Guest insight from Nick Prudhoe - creating high-performance through operating model change

over 3 years ago by Lee Murray
Nick Prudhoe Operating Models Blog 0920

Nick Prudhoe, CTO of City Facilities Management, joined us at our recent Head Resourcing IT Leadership Forum where we exchanged ideas and experiences of future operating models. The context for the forum was exploring future operating models as a route to embedding team performance & cultural change within organisations, whilst responding to the immediate impacts of Covid-19.

In this guest blog, Nick shares the journey he and the Development Team at City Facilities Management embarked on as they resolved team challenges with a shift in thinking and transformation in operating model. Over to you Nick!

When I joined City FM last year the company had been through a period of significant business growth and the Development Team had grown rapidly in line with that. The team were experiencing growing pains, with processes and a structure they had outgrown and a knowledge retention problem due to an over reliance on contract colleagues brought in at pace.

My team and I knew we had to focus on the people within the department; building their knowledge, maximising the efficiency of how they work and engaging them in the process. We also recognised the need for a structure that could adapt to almost constant change and growth, due to a business strategy that relied on being immediately responsive to the needs of our clients.

Choosing the right model

As the basis for the necessary cultural transformation, we looked to the concepts laid out in Dan Pink’s book Drive, which sets out the key intrinsic motivators of knowledge workers as Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose. We took a view that supporting our team in these areas would lead to higher engagement and better outcomes, putting people at the centre of our strategy.

We chose the Spotify Agile model as the best fit for what we were trying to achieve. It supports giving people a purpose through setting clear OKRs (Objectives and Key Results). It supports mastery through bringing similarly skilled people together across teams in chapters and guilds to share experience and learning. Finally, the model supports giving people autonomy through the very fibre of agile working and squads being responsible for the outcomes of the work they produce.

The changes were met positively by colleagues and, although a number of people were new to roles and had not experienced an agile environment before, they organised themselves well and began to build out strong ways of working and processes. Our agile coaches were able to support and look for best practice across squads, but the squads themselves created their own identities.

OKRs as a motivation pivot point

What we have found so far is the model comes into its own when we need to adapt rapidly. In the last six months I have seen squads spin up to deal with focus areas such a cloud platform cost control, security and application performance. The squads are formed from individuals that best fit the focus area, they quickly address the issues, hand back to business as usual across the squads and disband. In each case these squads were highly motivated around short-term OKRs and were very successful in achieving them. From a colleague perspective we have seen engagement rise from the mid-sixties to the mid-nineties, contract resources join us on a permanent basis and attrition drop to next to zero.

Where do we go next?

The bigger challenge has been aligning our agile model to the way the business plans change. Control of inflow, prioritisation and delivery times for work have all been tested. This will be our focus moving forward, with next steps so far identified including better establishment of Product Owners within the business and the introduction of quarterly business reviews.

In summary, we are still on a journey with business alignment top of our agenda. However, the model we have implemented has proven to engage and empower our people and be highly flexible to our needs. As we head into an uncertain 2021 for all businesses, we expect the model to serve us well.

Let's talk

If you’d like to talk in more detail about how implementing new operating models can have a radical transformation on your team, please get in touch with me over here, or connect with Nick on LinkedIn.

​The information contained in this article does not constitute business advice and should not be acted on as such. This content is based on our understanding in September 2020. Head Resourcing are not liable for the information contained on any third-party websites linked to this article.

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