Photo - Danika Perkinson

Operating System Canvas

The OS Canvas is a concept described by Aaron Dignan as part of The Ready in The Operating System Canvas.

TODO: Much of this information is behind books I need to source.


The OS canvas process described in The Operating System Canvas appears vaguely like retrospective processes I've encountered in the past.

What differs from retrospectives I've been a part of is the content and context. Instead of talking about sprints, or quarters, what is being discussed is the organization itself. They discuss 12 dimension

It seems to work first on building up tensions and vulnerability, then allowing the emotion to level out through positive reflection before trying to draw the members of the group into sharing more deeply and charting a path forward.

Open Questions


There are roughly 12 dimensions laid out (copied from the post): >


How we orient and steer; the reason for being at the heart of any organization, team, or individual.

  • What is our reason for being?
  • What is meaningful about our work?
  • How does our purpose help us make decisions?*


How we share power and make decisions; the right to make decisions and take action or compel others to do the same.

  • Who can tell others what to do?
  • How do we make important decisions?
  • What is safe to try? What is not?*


How we organize and team; the anatomy of the organization; formal, informal, and value-creation networks.

  • What is centralized? What is decentralized?
  • Within teams, how do we approach roles and accountabilities?
  • How does our structure learn or change over time?*


How we plan and prioritize; the process of identifying critical factors or challenges and the means to overcome them.

  • What are the critical factors that will mean the difference between success and failure?
  • How do we develop, refine, and refresh our strategy?
  • How do we use strategy to filter and steer day-to-day?*


How we invest our time and money; the allocation of capital, effort, space, and other assets.

  • How do we allocate funds, effort, space, and other assets?
  • How do strategy and planning influence resource allocation?
  • How does our approach enable us to respond to emergent events?*


How we learn and evolve; the creation of something new; the evolution of what already exists.

  • Who participates in innovation? Who has the right to innovate?
  • What is the role of failure and learning in innovation?
  • How do we balance the short term and the long term?*


How we divide and do the work; the path and process of value creation.

  • What is the relationship between our workflow and our structure?
  • How do we maintain visibility across all our projects?
  • How are projects initiated, canceled, or completed?*


How we convene and coordinate; the many ways members and teams come together.

  • Does each of our meetings have a clear purpose and structure?
  • How are meetings facilitated and documented?
  • How do we improve or eliminate meetings that are no longer serving us?*


How we share and use data; the flow of data, insight, and knowledge across the organization.

  • What information is shared freely?
  • What information is contained or controlled?
  • What tools, systems, or forums support storing and sharing?*


How we define and cultivate relationships; the boundaries and conditions for entering, inhabiting, and leaving teams and organizations.

  • How is membership (in the org or team) gained? How is it relinquished? How is it revoked?
  • What do all members expect of one another?
  • How do members move between teams and other boundaries?


How we grow and mature; the journey of self-discovery and development; our approach to nurturing talent, skills, and competence.

  • What is our approach to learning and development?
  • How do we give and receive feedback?
  • How does competence influence the roles we inhabit?*


How we pay and provide; the wages, salaries, bonuses, commissions, benefits, perquisites, profits, and equity exchanged for participation in the organization.

  • What is our approach to compensation?
  • What mechanisms have we put into place to reduce bias in compensation?
  • How are changes in compensation triggered and conducted?