Saturday, January 24, 2015

Maps and the Target Operating Model

I was asked a question about my post on getting stuff done and then noticed a relevant but unrelated tweet by Tom Loosemore

.... so I thought I'd better answer. Does the map represent your target operating model? No, but not for the reason you might think.

My original post discussed more the process by which you get something started, a key part of which is creating the map to determine, communicate and then challenge what is to be done. One this has been done the map gives you an initial target (see figure 1)

Figure 1 - Initial Target

From the map you have a set of user needs, numerous components to meet those needs (a chain of needs or value chain), a necessity to use multiple methods (due to changing characteristics), a division into small teams, use of components from others, delivery of components to others and a set of strategic plays ... read the original post for details.

Now, a few things are worth noting.

1) The map is imperfect (all maps are). So other components and needs are going to emerge on route.

2) The map is not static. All components evolve due to competition (supply and demand) and hence their characteristics, how you might treat them will change.

3) Others will develop systems which impact your map i.e. provide opportunities for either re-use of their components or supply of your components to them.

The map is a guide not a target operating model because the map is not static. It will change and you will have to adapt as it changes. Maps of a competitive environment are fluid - evolution doesn't stop because you're building a big project. This actually can be extremely useful because you can use timing to assist you. In very long projects, you can de-prioritise selected components for as long as possible to give them the maximum time to evolve to more industrialised (e.g. commodity) forms.

I'm not a fan of the target operating model concept because it implies that a static, steady state can be achieved. That's a rare exception in my view and whenever I have been able to reach it, I've generally found that life has moved on and I need to change again.