Understanding Our Organizational Operating Systems

Successful Entrepreneur and renowned business consultant Aaron Dignan’s new book, Brave New Work, comes out this week. In a podcast interview, he did with Michael Covel, he shared what he calls his organization operating system, or the OS Canvas. By using these factors, he helps organizations and teams to understand and define the factors that drive their ongoing business operations, and ultimately their success or failure. 

These twelve points are applicable to any business of any size. Think about each of them (please note: these are from my notes and may be slightly varied from what he actually presents):


1.       Purpose: how we orient and steer our organization 

2.       Authority: how we share power and make decisions 

3.       Structure: how we organize and team/partner (functional, project, silos, etc.)

4.       Strategy: how we prioritize and make decisions at the individual and team level

5.       Resources: how we invest our time and money, (budgeting, resource allocation)

6.       Innovation: how we learn and evolve

7.       Workflow: who does it touch and why, what value is created within the organization

8.       Meetings: How we maximize productivity and minimize wasted time when gathering over work

9.       Information: how we share and use data, including transparency and privacy (ex. What leadership does and doesn’t share, including when and why)

10.   Membership: who is in/on what team and why

11.   Mastery: learning and development for all employees at all stages

12.   Compensation: how we pay and reward people 


While the list is high-level, it’s fairly exhaustive. Line these up against a business plan and see if they’re all addressed (spoiler: they won’t be). Better yet – whichever items made you say, “yeah, about that…” Give them some specific focus. Those are the areas to consider what the smallest achievable change could be to make incremental progress.


Dignan stresses starting small and then staying persistent. When we stay mindful of these factors, we can “start the way we mean to finish.”  Now that’s something to aim for.