Open Program

Designing Operating Models

Align your operations with your business strategy.

This three-day program, run in conjunction with PA Consulting, gives you the tools to transform your business through higher margins, increased sales, or both.

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Designing Operating Models

Upcoming Dates

09 Jan 2017 - 11 Jan 2017

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24 Apr 2017 - 26 Apr 2017

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Program Overview

An operating model is the operational design that makes it possible to deliver the business strategy. Operational design follows strategy, but the relationship also works the other way around, which means that ideas for operating model improvements can lead to changes in business strategy. This program is about the intersection of business strategy and operational design.

The operating model defines how the company will deliver the capabilities and financial outcomes required by the strategy. An operating model covers six elements making up the acronym POLISM:

  • Processes and activities – the work that needs to be done
  • Organization and people – the people doing the work and how they are organized
  • Locations, buildings and other assets – the places where the work is done and the equipment in those places needed to support the work
  • Information and other links – the IT (and other links) needed to support the work
  • Sourcing and partners – those outside the organization supporting the work
  • Management system – the planning and performance management of the work

Each element of the operating model needs to be designed to contribute to the success of the organization, and will have an impact on both the income statement and the balance sheet. This program will introduce tools and frameworks that help participants understand and communicate the existing operating model as well as challenge the status quo and design a target operating model.

Participants on the last two programs rated the value to them as individuals, as 8.7 out of a possible 10. The net promotor scores were 67% and 70%.

Content and Structure


Before the program you will receive pre-program reading and be asked to prepare a case study. This will help you focus your thinking on the topics of the program.

Residential Phase

During the program you will discuss well-established tools and explore new and evolving frameworks.

The program covers the following topics:

  • The difference between a business model and an operating model
  • The design process, in particular how to turn a business strategy into design principles by clarifying capabilities
  • How to represent the operating model in diagrams or pictures
  • How to link operating models and financial outcomes
  • Tools for documenting business strategy in a way that is helpful for operating model design
  • Financial analysis tools, such as the Dupont Model, for linking operating model choices to financial outcomes
  • Tools for capturing the processes and activities of the organization
  • Tools for designing organization structures, decision rights and people models
  • Tools for linking IT to the operating model
  • Tools for analysing suppliers and designing supplier relationships 

Operating model and stakeholders Operating model canvas

Sessions will involve input from the faculty, written case studies and examples drawn from the participants in the group and from PA Consulting’s experience. As well as building a useful toolkit, there will be a strong emphasis on discussing real-life situations and practical examples. One day is spent working through a case study using the tools, led by an executive from the business.

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  • Your program tutors may facilitate a conference call after the residential phase so that the group can share experiences and continue learning together
  • New ideas will be shared with you on the Ashridge Operating Models blog and there are active discussions on this topic in the LinkedIn Group – Operating Models
  • You will become a member of the Ashridge Alumni network where you can continue your personal development and networking
  • Ongoing support and further learning opportunities are available with Ashridge Momentum

Related content

View related programs  The Ashridge experience   Customize this program 
All Ashridge Open Programs are taught in English, find out how we can help you to improve your English.
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 Participant feedback

Feedback is provided here from six types of participants:

  • Operations Professionals
  • Transformation, Change and Lean Professionals
  • HR Professionals
  • IT Professionals
  • Strategy Professionals 
  • Consultants

From Operations Professionals

“Worked examples bring the theory to life. Andrew and Mark were great course tutors.”

Steve Curry, Assistant Director of Operations, Health Board

“Ten out of ten”

Eric Sabates, General Manager, Imperial Tobacco

“This course had de-mystified the subject and will help me plan the future models.”

Paul Hill, Operations Services Director, Manheim

“My benefit came from applying actual business challenges to the models.”

Matthew Ward, Head of Funeral Operations, Central England Co-Operative Society

From Transformation, Change, Lean, etc. Professionals

“Excellent course - practical, thought provoking and useful.”

Adrian Twyning, Head of Business Transformation, British Gas

“Great course. It provided insights into my current organization.”

Devand Singh, Senior Business Change Manager, Cambridge Assessment

“Met my needs and expectations. Got great value from the other participants too.”

Charlotte Eimer, Programme Director, BBC

From HR Professionals

“I learned a lot. A very good use of two days." (Attended two day course).

Carol Madeley, Head of Business HR, Belron International

“Very good course. It will be even better in the three day version.”

Scott Schoenbrun, Talent and OD Director, SPX Corporation

“Will help me support the business managers I am working with.”

Head of Global HR Business Partnering, Consumer Goods

From IT Professionals

“Very good grounding. Presented numerous tools to develop an OM from scratch or transform an existing one.”

Nick Ouston, Management Information Manager, EDF

“Great course, I found it very challenging (in a good way).”

Oliver Dickie, Systems Process Specialist, Matthew Clark

From Strategy Professionals

“Good introduction for those working on target operating models.”

Assistant VP Strategy and M&A, Major UK Bank

"Well structured. Has helped me illustrate the operating impact of a new strategy."

Carlos Alpizar, Director Strategy, Questamoras

From Consultants

“A thoroughly well thought our course. Content provided the right level of tools and approaches to Operating Design.”

Merryn Horneman, Principle Management Consultant (PCubed)

“The course was very useful and gave me real world, practical tools that my clients in the public sector  need, as they are changing to face future challenges to government.”

Brendan McCarron, Consultant, McCarron Heal Limited


Program fee

Price: £2,950.00 + VAT
What is included in your open program fee?
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Who is it for?

You currently have a role in a business improvement, strategy or advisory function. You may be a member of a lean team, managing projects as part of a transformation team, a business architect or strategist in operations, IT or planning. You may work as a consultant or an analyst in business improvement or process excellence. Or you may be a strategist or business partner in human resources or IT.

Whichever of these roles you have, you want to ensure that your operating model is efficient, innovative and aligned with your business strategy. You need to better understand the operating model of your business, and have more influence over the major choices made.

Benefits to you and your organization

  • You will be able to produce a visual representation of your organization’s operating model for debate with other executives
  • You will have the skills to challenge the status quo and encourage innovation
  • You will have the tools you need to check the robustness of the current model or any proposed design
  • You will know how to lead a project aimed at designing a target operating model.

Faculty Team

Andrew Campbell

Andrew Campbell


Read more about Andrew

Mark Lancelott

Mark Lancelott

Read more about Mark

Mikel Gutiérrez

Mikel Gutiérrez

Read more about Mikel