Every work activity, everything that you and I see, everything we do not see, and how we understand our worlds, are determined by invisible structures of practices, technologies and interpretations. We give the name operating system to these structures. They shape our understanding of the world, our actions, and our customers’ experience. An organization’s viability depends first upon its capacity to keep open to new possibilities, and upon its capacity to take care of those possibilities it is capitalizing upon. To stay competitive and flexible enough to evolve, the operating model must orchestrate and support the networks of people, processes, and tools that keep the company’s people attuned to its markets and customers.
Attempt to change an organization without paying to its operating system and the “hidden instructions” of the existing operating system will turn your work into more of what you’ve already got. At the same time, the operating system is the strategic framework for interacting with a company’s capabilities at a critical moment in its history and market situation.
Changing the direction of a human enterprise is never a trivial matter. Deliberately making big changes in how people work, and repeatedly succeeding at it, does, in fact, require an unusual mix of study and sophisticated business acumen, combined with down-to-earth pragmatics: conviction, commitment and action.