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Co-Creation of an Operating Framework

How did we develop "buy-in" and a sense of ownership to co-create an operating framework for members of a diverse global professional association in a short time period?


  • Change Management

  • Team Alignment




  • Shared understanding and buy-in in record time

  • Interactive prototype co-creation


    CFA Institute is a global, not-for-profit professional organization that provides investment professionals with finance education. It aims to promote the standards in ethics, education, and professional excellence in the global investment industry.


    An operating framework is a guide that sets the way a company conducts business and promotes its corporate culture and identity (definition by Chron)

    CFA Institute, a global association with 155 local chapters of members and 6 global offices, experienced rapid change over the past 5 years. Institute brought together a global community of CFA Societies under one roof but most of the local chapters were operating individually making independent choices in their local markets. The organization needed an unified agreement about operation, brand and culture at the same time allowing for the local specifics and nuances.

    Most influential and largest CFA societies were invited to contribute to the creation of the updated operating framework. The challenge was to engage a very diverse group of timestarved executives, create the environment for open discussion and new ideas, and create a usable prototype for the operating framework.


    We planned the project using our WakeMake model. The start was to connect people, context and surface the challenges. We carefully designed and facilitated a two-day session with 20 people focused on creating a safe space where people could freely express themselves and collecting feedback on work done so far.

    Next step was to co-create a vision going forward and how each chapter sees themself contributing to the organizational vision. We helped participants articulate the essence of their work and contribution through various co-creation exercises.

    With developed shared understanding we moved on to commitment and created a small group of volunteers that would meet over a 4 week period and develop a draft operating model. We facilitated the co-creation process for this small group and synthesized their input into a prototype framework.

    To spread shared commitment we designed and facilitated larger stakeholder group consultation.


  • 2 months from start to finish

  • 1x in-person, 2-day co-creation session, 20 people

  • 2 x virtual, 2-hour co-creation session, 8 people

  • 8 individual feedback and discovery calls

  • 1 x in-person full day co-creation session, 10 people

  • 1 x in-person feedback session, 30 people

  • Results

  • 1. Designed optimal approach to complex problem solving with time starved executives.

    2. Shifted the traditional top-down approach where the framework is not a preconceived product “rolled out or launched” by one party, but a mutual agreement.

    3. Created the mindset shift that things don't need to be "finished", "perfect", or "done" before they are shared.

    4. Introduced the design thinking approach for re-framing the challenge from a human-centered perspective.

    5. Introduced and facilitated divergent thinking, as the behavior needed for problem-solving as opposed to the sole solution focused convergent thinking.

    6. Developed an interactive prototype the client feels confident sharing and developing further.


    "WakeMake's approach to the project created an equal playing field for participants and a safe space for each to use their imaginations and offer unique perspectives. No one person from either the larger organization or the chapters dominated via opinion or vision, so the output was a collective one. This was immensely important for creating buy in for an operating framework meeting the needs of all future users. The resulting product is a comprehensive and interactive model for the working relationship between these 155 separate organizations and for future chapters which may join our dynamic and growing network.” - Randi Tolber, Project owner, Society Relations Global Head, CFA Institute.

    Iva made design thinking enjoyable and was very clear on expectations of the session. She had unique ways to engage all of us for fun and a structured and unique way to provide feedback (visual cards). One of my favourite parts was sharing my proudest moment but more importantly hearing what others shared as their proud moments. ~ Participant.

    Overall I received a good framework for developing prototypes that is easily transferable to other projects to help others understand the process. - Participant.

    It's an enjoyable process and definitely made me stop and focus on things I wouldn't normally pay attention to, (ie: what is my best working group/team.)" ~Participant


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