I am always interested in the frameworks used by consultancies because they are working regularly with clients, and, hence, should be learning the most about how to do operating model work. So I eagerly read a BCG article by Miquel Carrasco, Kyle Peters and Peter Geluk on agile operating models for government.
The article argues that government should adopt agile methods, but without giving any compelling example or anecdotes. The main point of interest is the framework that they called “BCG’s Agile Operating Model Framework” – see below
My immediate interest was to compare it with the Operating Model Canvas to see if I could learn anything. First, there are a good many overlaps. “Processes” is the same although the visual in their processes box does not look much like a process. “Structure”, “Culture and behaviour” and “Leadership and talent” overlap with “Organisation” in the Canvas. Although the emphasis on leadership is interesting. “Technological enablers” covers the same ground as “Information” in the OMC. “Measurement framework” is similar to “Scorecard”.
This leaves “Governance and funding” which appears to overlap partially with “Management Calendar” in the OMC. But the focus on funding is clearly different. Thinking about this, funding is a major issue in government as it is in charities. So special attention on this topic seems sensible. The link with governance also makes sense because the funding comes from the government. However, the wording in the article does not throw much light on this category: “Organizations should move to a more flexible, capacity-based funding approach, with regular reevaluation of initiatives to ensure that they are on track and merit continued funding.”
The final box in the BCG framework is “Purpose, strategy and priorities”. This has some connection to the “Value Proposition” and “Customer” parts of the Canvas.
What is interesting is that “Location” and “Suppliers” are not part of the BCG framework. Given that one of the core ideas in agile working is the bringing together of cross functional capability into a single location so that they can work closely together, the absence of location in an agile framework feels like an omission. Furthermore, since agile is about moving fast, government departments are likely to need to work with suppliers who are more used to reacting in a few days rather than a few months. So some attention to Suppliers would also seem important to designing an agile approach.
As is normal, when comparing frameworks, there is something to learn and something to teach. BCG’s attention to leadership is worth thinking about. As the authors point out, in an agile environment, leaders need to be good at articulating purpose and constraints, assembling teams and then giving teams the freedom to act. Not a natural style in government. But one that is well articulated by Stephen Bungay in The Art of Action.
More broadly almost every new operating model requires changes in leadership behavior. So maybe the “Organisation” box in the Operating Model Canvas, should include special attention on the leadership behaviors needed to make the new model work. Some of this is captured in “Management Calendar”, but more thought about leadership behavior is probably warranted.
BCG’s focus on funding is also worth attention. In a commercial organization the funding issue is part of the business model, and hence excluded from the operating model thinking. But in government, the distinction between business model and operating model is less useful. Hence it may make more sense to blend the two as BCG appears to do.
On the teaching side, BCG might benefit from adding location and suppliers to their framework. They also lack any concept of customer or beneficiary in their framework. No doubt this is included in their “Purpose, strategy and priorities” space, but, even in government, it is important to keep a focus on who the beneficiary is.