The Target Operating Model (TOM) is a crucial tool for organisations undergoing change, providing a blueprint for how resources are arranged to deliver value to customers. Yet, traditional TOMs often fail to keep up with the pace of change in today’s digital era. A new approach is to view the TOM as a ‘garden’ that needs regular tending, rather than a ‘machine’ that is built and then left to run.

A ‘garden’ TOM is organic, flexible, and adaptable, able to respond to the changing needs of customers and the organisation. It is not a one-off exercise but a continuous process of nurturing and growth. This approach requires a shift in mindset, from controlling to enabling, and from planning to learning.

Four principles underpin the ‘garden’ TOM. Firstly, the customer is at the heart of everything. Secondly, the organisation must be able to adapt quickly to change. Thirdly, the TOM should be simple and clear, with no unnecessary complexity. Lastly, the organisation should learn and improve continuously, using feedback and data to make informed decisions.

This ‘garden’ TOM is not a panacea but offers a more realistic and sustainable approach to organisational change in the digital age. It recognises that change is not a project with a start and end date, but a continuous journey of learning and adaptation.

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