In today's fast-paced business world, being flexible is super important for both people and companies to do well. To do that, companies need to rethink and change how they work—their Operating Model—which is like a plan for how they make and offer things to their customers. Standing out with this plan means making a work culture where everyone's eager to learn new things, think like an investor and care more about making progress than being perfect. I won't suggest a specific model since each company is different, but I'll highlight some key ideas that can help make a flexible, quick-to-change operating model.
A culture of customer obsession
At the heart of a forward-thinking workplace is a strong focus on customers, which we call 'customer obsession' in our company. It means making every move with the customer in mind—understanding their needs, finding solutions that really help them, and being a part of their journey. Instead of fitting customers into our plans, we see ourselves as part of their story. A customer-obsessed culture encourages employees to value and track customer happiness more than just meeting internal goals. To build this culture, we reward behaviours that put the customer first.
When culture eats strategy for breakfast
Constructing a culture that creates flexibility, understands and accepts the responsibilities for change is the key. It's all about having a mindset rooted in values and trust. This kind of culture is adaptable, creative, and supportive, promoting learning and growth. To make this happen, it's important to encourage teamwork, invest in training for diverse teams, and even welcome healthy disagreements at work. While strategy matters, a culture that's inclusive, empowering, and customer-focused naturally leads to a strategy that fits at every level of the organisation.
Data and research
A successful operating model is one that depends heavily on data and research. Research enables organisations to learn and stay ahead of industry trends. Data complements these efforts by enabling the organisation to derive meaningful insights into its performance and devise strategies through continuous feedback from customer channels on how to enhance its solutions. A good data operating model helps to break through the organisational and technical silos. A good business architecture will focus on how data is captured, curated and consumed across the organisation to enhance value for end customers.
Ability to pivot in accelerated timeframes
In the dynamic realm of contemporary business, the ability to swiftly pivot in the face of changing requirements is indispensable. Companies must be prepared to quickly realign and adapt strategies and operations, in dynamic response to changing market conditions or evolving customer demands. This requires a flexible and agile organisational structure, complemented by a proactive approach towards cost-effective and rapid experimentation. A well-built operating model will deliver value across value streams. Through the intentional development of a culture rooted in adaptability, organisations position themselves not only to weather uncertainty but to thrive amidst it.
Learnability and working out loud
At the fulcrum of organisational efforts in building adaptability and agility among employees is a strong culture of learnability. To really enable success in a crowded and competitive market, a high premium must be placed on learning, where employees are given ample opportunities and platforms to learn and enhance their skills in line with the latest in the industry. A workforce that does not learn will not grow –referring to quality over quantity. The culture must also allow for a culture of working out loud, where employees are given the freedom to work in non-siloed environments across teams, enabling them to congregate and collaborate in an internal marketplace of ideas, where not only the best survive, but the ideas keep coming. The power of community and connections cannot be overemphasised. Aligned to this is an environment where employees are allowed to fail fast, but to always learn in the process.
Adaptability is the linchpin of success in today's rapidly changing business environment. By establishing an operating model based on the principles of learnability, agility, and customer obsession, companies can forge an adaptable, resilient, and forward-thinking workplace that thrives and leads change, now and into the future.