Alistair Sharpe-Neal

Senior consultant, Campbell Tickell

Ian Wright

CEO, Disruptive Innovators Network


Welcome to our second joint research report between the Disruptive Innovators Network and Campbell Tickell, exploring how operating models are evolving as we move into a new phase of the Covid-19 pandemic.

This research explores the experience of the past two years in highlighting organisations’ ability to: reassess core purpose and priorities; evolve flexible service models that respond to the emerging ‘hybrid’ world of service provision; and measure true value as delivered against purpose.

The all-hands-on-deck response necessitated by the pandemic – which no one’s corporate risk analysis foresaw – has shown businesses that they can still operate with a high level of effectiveness, even when faced with unexpected and extreme external challenges.

Innovation catalyst

What really matters can still get done, even when the usual rules, structures and ways of working do not apply. Unscripted initiative-taking and self-reliance are what ultimately got us through. This realisation is now acting as a powerful catalyst for driving innovation and new thinking, increasing efficiency and effectiveness, and ultimately building lasting resilience.

In this report, senior leaders within the housing, not-for-profit and commercial sectors offer their insights into the thinking that is driving emerging operating models. They ask fundamental questions of what we do and how we operate, and for who’s benefit do organisations ultimately exist.

The key questions

  1. How can housing organisations reconnect and rebuild relationships with customers?
  2. How can local presence and community connection be achieved within a hybrid-working environment?
  3. How can change be accelerated and innovation facilitated without a morale-sapping centralised transformation programme?
  4. How do we build business models around data and insight rather than process and technology?
  5. What are the most appropriate measures of success moving forward?

This report lays out the context and seeks to answer these and other questions.

While presented as a series of chapters, each perspective in the report covers an aspect of an emerging operating model. This covers everything from redefining the customer offer, to organisational and operational refocusing, as well as embedding digital process transformation, scaling while maintaining a strong local identity and presence, at the same time as considering wider outcomes and sustainability.

We believe the central question housing leaders should be asking now is: How can we build flexibility and resilience into our operating models in a way that directly benefits the service relationship with our customers?

Ways forward

A subtle shift in the lexicon of operating model development is emerging, as leaders reflect on the true purpose, shared values and inherent strengths of their organisations.

Emphasis is being placed on continuous evolution and building solutions around people. Organisations are investing to improve, by designing in flexibility to services and operations, optimisation, and scalability, while recognising the wider benefits that can be achieved through collaboration, facilitation and empowerment.

As businesses seek to reaffirm their purpose and to reset priorities, our aim is for this report to help stimulate discussion at a fundamental level. We hope it helps engender long-term relationships with customers and in defining flexible and sustainable operating models that deliver true value beyond traditional measures of success.

While no two businesses share current target operating models, it is also true there is no one-size-fits-all approach or shared pathway. Housing providers can learn from the approaches adopted by others within and from outside the sector, adapting them to meet their own needs and circumstances. However, what is shared by all is the goal to provide solutions that meet the fundamental human need of a secure, safe and affordable living space.

We interviewed a number of leaders and specialists as part of this research. Their quotes are intended to illustrate various points, but should not necessarily be taken as representing the views of Disruptive Innovators Network or Campbell Tickell.