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10 Operating Model Examples: Shaping the Foundation of Business Success


An operating model serves as the backbone of any organization, providing a structured framework that outlines how it delivers value to customers, manages its resources, and sustains its overall operations. It is a critical component in achieving long-term success and ensuring that an organization’s strategies are effectively executed. In this article, we’ll delve into various operating model examples across different industries to understand how they play a pivotal role in shaping the destiny of businesses.

The below list of operating models outlines operating models used in different businesses. For more in-depth application, building and use of operating models, strategy journey’s operating model example allows us to better visualize how the operating model works and the importance of its use in the business lifecycle.

10 Different operating model examples

Franchise Operating Model

Franchise businesses exemplify a distinct operating model where the parent company, or franchisor, grants the rights to independent operators, or franchisees, to use its brand, products, and services. A prime example is McDonald’s, a global fast-food giant. The franchise operating model empowers local entrepreneurs to own and manage individual outlets while adhering to a set of standardized processes and quality standards. This approach allows for rapid expansion and scalability, while sharing the risks and rewards between the franchisor and franchisees.


Online Marketplace Operating Model

E-commerce giants like Amazon have revolutionized the way we shop and have established a unique operating model. They act as intermediaries, connecting buyers and sellers on their platform. This operating model relies on sophisticated technology, robust logistics, and extensive data analysis to optimize customer experience, seller management, and inventory. The success of such marketplaces lies in their ability to balance the needs of diverse stakeholders while providing convenience and selection to customers.

Subscription-Based Operating Model

Companies like Netflix have embraced a subscription-based operating model to monetize their services. Customers pay a recurring fee to access a library of content, and the company continuously updates and expands its offerings to retain subscribers. This operating model encourages customer retention and loyalty by consistently delivering value and maintaining engagement. It requires a strong focus on content curation, user experience, and technology infrastructure.


Manufacturing Operating Model

In manufacturing, precision and efficiency are crucial, and the operating model must reflect this. Companies like Toyota are renowned for their “Just-In-Time” manufacturing model, which minimizes waste and maximizes efficiency. By closely managing inventory levels and production processes, Toyota has set the standard for lean manufacturing. This approach has been widely adopted in the industry, emphasizing cost control, quality assurance, and responsiveness to market demand.

Asset-Light Operating Model

Asset-light operating models, common in the hotel and airline industries, involve outsourcing key functions like property ownership, maintenance, and staff management. Marriott International, for example, operates as a franchisor and management company, leasing properties instead of owning them. This model minimizes capital requirements, allowing for rapid expansion and risk mitigation. It also offers a balance between control and scalability, contributing to long-term success.

Gig Economy Operating Model

The gig economy, exemplified by platforms like Uber and Lyft, presents a unique operating model centered on connecting independent workers with customers. These platforms leverage technology to match supply with demand, ensuring flexibility for workers and convenience for customers. The gig economy thrives on a balance between worker incentives, customer satisfaction, and regulatory compliance. It has disrupted traditional employment structures, offering both opportunities and challenges for society.

Hybrid Operating Model

Some businesses operate with a hybrid model, combining elements of traditional brick-and-mortar and e-commerce. Retailers like Walmart have successfully integrated their physical stores with online channels. This approach seeks to provide customers with a seamless shopping experience across both digital and physical platforms. It requires a robust technology infrastructure, inventory management, and workforce adaptability.

Financial Services Operating Model

Financial institutions, such as banks and investment firms, operate within a highly regulated and complex environment. Their operating models are built around risk management, compliance, and customer service. The core components include loan origination, credit risk assessment, asset management, and customer relationship management. In this sector, the operating model must prioritize security, transparency, and adaptability to changing market conditions.

The Software as a Service (SaaS) operating model

has gained immense popularity in the software industry. Companies like Salesforce and Microsoft’s Office 365 have successfully implemented this model. In a SaaS operating model, software applications are hosted and provided to customers on a subscription basis, typically via the cloud. This approach eliminates the need for customers to purchase, install, and maintain software on their own servers. It allows for regular updates, scalability, and customization, all while generating recurring revenue for the SaaS provider. Key aspects of this operating model include subscription pricing, data security, and ongoing customer support.


Healthcare Provider Operating Model

Healthcare organizations, including hospitals and clinics, follow a unique operating model that focuses on patient care, regulatory compliance, and financial sustainability. In this model, core functions include patient intake and registration, medical treatment, insurance claims processing, and electronic health record management. Patient-centric care, accurate diagnosis, and efficient workflows are paramount. Healthcare providers must navigate complex regulations, privacy concerns, and evolving medical technologies. The success of these organizations relies on patient outcomes, financial stability, and maintaining high levels of trust with their communities.

These additional operating model examples further illustrate the diversity of approaches used by organizations to meet the specific demands of their industries. Each operating model is tailored to optimize the core functions and objectives of the respective business or sector, showcasing the adaptability and creativity required to thrive in today’s ever-changing global marketplace.


Operating models are the architectural blueprints that underpin the success of businesses in diverse industries. They define how value is created, delivered, and sustained, and they play a pivotal role in achieving strategic objectives. The examples discussed in this article highlight the versatility of operating models, each tailored to the unique needs and challenges of their respective industries. By understanding and optimizing their operating model, organizations can pave the way for sustained growth, profitability, and competitiveness in today’s dynamic business landscape. As technology, customer preferences, and market conditions evolve, businesses must continuously adapt their operating models to stay relevant and thrive in the modern world.

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