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Definition of Modus Operandi in Business

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Last editedJune 20212 min read

Definition of modus operandi in business

How predictable is your behaviour? One way to assess patterns in business is to look at an individual or group’s modus operandi. We’ll take a closer look at the modus operandi meaning below, along with how this term can be useful in business management.

M.O. definition: what is modus operandi?

Often shortened to M.O., the Latin term ‘modus operandi’ describes someone’s usual way of operating. It could refer to either an individual’s typical behaviour or the routine processes of an organisation. By looking at patterns of working behaviour over time, you can make better predictions for the future. This is useful not only in understanding how businesses operate, but also in investing.

What are modus operandi synonyms?

The M.O. meaning translates to ‘operating mode’ in English. You can gain a greater understanding of this concept by looking at some modus operandi synonyms:

  • Manner of working

  • Method of operation

  • Method of functioning

  • Approach

  • Process

  • System

  • Technique

While the M.O. definition is more extensively used in fields like criminology, you’ll see these synonyms frequently applied to the business world. The term relates to a business’s daily methods of operations, its functions, and its typical processes.

How does modus operandi work?

What drives modus operandi at an individual or organisational level? If your business experiences success with a particular marketing approach or process, you’re likely to continue pursuing this approach in the future. Similarly, individuals tend to follow predictable patterns of behaviour over time. Marketers can study and compile this data as part of a demographic analysis, driving business decisions.

It’s also important to note that a group’s behavioural patterns might be specific to its industry, region, or culture. As cultural values change over time and demographics shift, so too does a business M.O. For example, there has been a cultural shift in the past decade towards sustainability and corporate responsibility which has changed the everyday working processes in many businesses.

How is modus operandi useful?

Now that you understand the modus operandi meaning, how can you put it to work in real life? One prime example would be within investing. You can analyse the investing patterns – or modus operandi – of successful investors like Warren Buffett. Most have a typical M.O. that they follow for investment and risk management, which you can adapt to suit your own portfolio.

Understanding the shared M.O. of your target demographic is also useful in marketing. Are there certain patterns of behaviour that your target audience shares? Do they interact with your website in a similar way, or purchase certain products at certain times of year?

From a business security perspective, modus operandi is especially useful for thwarting cyber-attacks before they happen. Predictive profiling analyses group patterns to detect red flags of an impending attack on business systems. When successful, you’ll detect unusual behaviour early enough to step up your online security based on this criminal intent.

Real-life M.O. meaning and examples

We’ve already given a few examples above of how M.O. works and why it’s useful. Here are a few additional examples of what modus operandi looks like in the real world.

  1. An onboarding policy is to take all new hires out for a one-on-one lunch with the director of the company. This M.O. creates a personal connection with the business for each employee, aiding in team management down the road.

  2. When attending a networking event, a sales representative’s M.O. might be to provide each new contact with a business card while introducing herself.

  3. A Ponzi scheme is defined by its M.O. of recruiting new investors, using their start-up funds to pay off existing investors. The scheme is upheld by this illusion of returns but collapses if the structure is unable to continue recruiting investors.

The bottom line

Modus operandi is defined by its repetition and order, but it’s also important to remember that M.O. can change both on an individual and organisational level. If your current M.O. is becoming less effective, it’s time to adjust as necessary to create a new pattern for business growth.

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