DUTCH SOCIAL WELFARE
Combining Organisational Growth and Customer Orientation in a Political Arena.
It’s usually a big challenge when organizations have to merge in a commercial setting. It is an even bigger challenge when this merger takes place within a government setting! This is what happened in the realm of Dutch Social Welfare Services. Several cities had to join forces and become one regional Social Welfare Service. Where to start?
Client is one of the largest welfare organisations in The Netherlands. They assume that every individual wants to be independent when it comes to their own life. Should there be a (temporary) lack of indepency, they can offer support by means of work, income and care. Work comes first as a means of being independent. As a consequence this has the biggest focus.
First and foremost: several cities had to join forces and create one Social Welfare Service organisation. An incredibly difficult task to complete working on the inside.
Two main issues:
- How do we structure this new organization? What are the central themes and what are the main results we have to deliver?
- How do we align our cultures? What characterizes our cultures and which of these characteristics match our new purpose?
At a glance it looks like the organization is changing. When I look closer, I must admit that I see my colleagues energetically developing their behaviour, aligning values and realizing our core business.
After noticing lack of return on investment from individual training programs and well intended change management, it was decided to return to the drawing board.
A new perspective emerged in the shape of a clear vision on the central business themes. Each theme was cared for by a sponsor. Each sponsor then started the ‘hunt’ for supporters from within the organization. The result was a total of nine teams that emerged through self-selection. Highly motivated and somewhat sceptic about the amount of work they seemed to face sailing on a ship that wasn’t ready yet in mostly unknown waters….
Each team was challenged to pitch a business proposal to central management. Also they were invited to discover the strength of the psychological contract that connected them. This was based on the level of connection between personal values, team values and organization values.
With this firm base of business focus and culture clarity they went to work. Literally developing their new organization with nine teams working both separate and in sync with each other. Weekly work sessions, trips abroad, bench marking, interviewing customers, etc. were used to develop the business.
During this process it was discovered that different behaviours were required. Each discovery was followed by support to develop themselves, thus shaping the culture best suited to deliver the business results needed.
Combining both business and culture oriented initiatives gives relatively quick AND sustainable results.
They had to learn this the hard way by spending a lot on individual training programs first.