A new operating model positions a Canadian not-for-profit organization for growth

A new operating model positions a Canadian not-for-profit organization for growth


Our client was a C$800 million turnover Canadian not-for-profit organization that employs 11,000 staff and provides services to millions of people each year.

The organization needed an operating model to support growth

The organization’s services portfolio had expanded to meet diverse needs across a large area. Decentralized growth had led to inconsistent service offerings and standards – and widespread back-office duplication – contributing to confusion over roles and responsibilities. As the first phase of a multi-year transformation program, the organization engaged Nous to develop a high-level operating model that would make delivery more effective and support functions more efficient.

Co-design created buy-in to the new operating model

Nous used our proven organizational design process to guide development of the operating model. Working closely with the client in a co-design approach we:

  1. analysed the current operating model and defined the drivers and case for change
  2. identified the new core operating model components (activities and functions that are critical to serve members)
  3. crafted design principles and evaluation criteria to assess design options
  4. identified four distinct options
  5. iterated and developed the options
  6. homed in on a preferred option.

Close collaboration between Nous and client stakeholders meant we completed the high-level design rapidly, positioning the organization for the next development phase.

The new operating model eliminated duplication, clarified roles and delivered on strategy

Nous is working with the organization to develop the detail of its new, fit-for-purpose way of organizing and working. Key features include:

  • centrally-coordinated business support functions, which will bring consistency and efficiency to back-office functions
  • central coordination of complex, highly-specialized social services, which will deliver common, high service delivery standards
  • a geographic divisional approach to less complex social and religious service provision, which will bolster community engagement and cross-referrals between different front-line service provision teams and units.

These changes will enable the organization to improve specialist services standards, remove duplication in back-office functions, streamline and simplify access to services for frontline workers and strengthen community engagement and holistic care through joining up the different service providers in each geographical area.

What you can learn from this organization

  • High growth and widespread change means it’s the right time to review your operating model.
  • Sincere stakeholder engagement and effective co-design are essential to identifying the right model.
  • Dividing the operating model redesign into phases keeps large-scale organizational change on track.