Wendbaar, flexibel, agile: what’s in a name…

Het publieke domein is volop in beweging. De maatschappij verandert, digitalisering en toepassing van nieuwe technologie worden steeds belangrijker, decentralisaties zorgen voor nieuwe relaties met inwoners, burgers en cliënten. Jan Rotmans spreekt zelfs van een verandering van tijdperk, naar een maatschappij die decentraal, bottom-up en horizontaal functioneert.

 

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Organisaties zien ze zichzelf voor de vraag gesteld: hoe gaan wij om met alle veranderingen om ons heen? En zelfs fundamenteler: hoe zorgen we ervoor dat we in het algemeen effectiever kunnen reageren op veranderingen? Onlangs hoorde ik zelfs iemand zeggen: eigenlijk willen we nooit meer hoeven te reorganiseren. Veel vraagstukken in het publieke domein binnen Het Zuiderlicht hebben op dit moment in meer of mindere mate te maken met dit soort uitdagingen: het vergroten van het adaptatievermogen van de organisatie, het organiseren van wendbare en flexibele organisaties. Een trend die we over het gehele publieke domein zien: provincies, gemeenten, uitvoeringsorganisaties, zorgorganisaties en onderwijs.

Deze vraagstukken beginnen bij de kernvraag: waartoe waren wij er als organisatie ook alweer? Wat is onze ‘why’? Dat gaat altijd terug naar de essentie, naar de waarde die wordt gerealiseerd voor stakeholders. Voor burgers, voor cliënten, voor patiënten, voor politiek en bestuur, voor financiers, etc. Vanuit de darwinistische gedachte dat organisaties die zich niet aanpassen en dus onvoldoende waarde toevoegen het uiteindelijk niet gaan redden.

Overigens betekent dit niet dat het opfrissen van de reden van oprichting van een organisatie voldoende is. Het vraagt een fundamentele beschouwing van het bestaansrecht, nu en in de toekomst. Want een veranderende omgeving kan een organisatie ook gewoon irrelevant maken.

Wendbare en flexibele organisaties, opgavengestuurd werken, horizontaal organiseren, ‘agile’ organiseren, holacratie: allerlei actuele benaderingen van hoe een organisatie zou kunnen functioneren op een wijze die aansluit bij de veranderende omgeving. Maar wat betekent dat? Welke organisatorische opgaven staan er dan te wachten? En hoe komen we daar waar we willen zijn?

De afgelopen jaren hebben we vanuit Het Zuiderlicht onder meer het volgende gezien aan kenmerkende bewegingen in zo’n nieuw ‘soort’ organisatie:

  • heldere duiding van wensen, opgaven, verlangens vanuit de buitenwereld die primair leidend zijn voor de organisatie,
  • anders vormgegeven werkwijzen en processen: mèt de buitenwereld in plaats van voor de buitenwereld,
  • het benutten van talenten van medewerkers: naar flexibele rollen, tijdelijke opdrachten en inzetten van onbenut potentieel in plaats van vaste functies en uniforme loongebouwen,
  • ruimte bieden aan initiatieven en experimenten: naar bottom-up, verantwoordelijkheden laag leggen, vertrouwen in plaats van top-down, plannen maken en control,
  • denken, doen en leren tegelijk: naar kort cyclisch veranderen a la scrum in plaats van grote PDCA-gestuurde jaarlijkse planning & control cycli,
  • effectieve facilitering hiervan: talentontwikkeling, informatievoorziening, huisvesting, hospitality die aansluiten bij de nieuwe werkelijkheid,
  • gewoon goede bedrijfsvoering: het financieel-administratieve huis orde,
  • korte en effectieve communicatielijnen: frequent, kort, interactief overleg in kleine groepen en benutten van social media in plaats van regulier, periodiek, informerend werkoverleg met een hele afdeling,
  • besluitvorming op basis van ‘geen bezwaar’ in plaats van consulterend op zoek naar breed draagvlak,
  • leiderschap dat mogelijk maakt: veel meer coachend dan directief sturend met veel ruimte voor persoonlijk leiderschap en ontwikkeling van medewerkers,
  • een organisatiestructuur die niet hindert maar juist bijdraagt en mogelijk maakt: horizontale en flexibele teams op basis van wensen/opgaven uit de buitenwereld in plaats van vaste, verticale structuren vanuit interne ratio,
  • nieuwe vormen van medezeggenschap: in een vroeg stadium betrokken met respect voor formele posities en niet alleen vanuit wetgeving.

En zo is er ongetwijfeld meer te zeggen over de centrale elementen in eigentijds organiseren. Zie ook mijn eerdere weblog over Reinventing organizations. Een mooi voorbeeld uit onze eigen praktijk is provincie Fryslân. Dit filmpje illustreert dat op treffende wijze. Mooi om te delen, zodat ook andere organisaties dit soort ideeën kunnen benutten. Overigens werken we aan een publicatie over dit traject die komend najaar beschikbaar komt.

Toch zit er ook een fundamentele observatie achter. Bovenstaande bewegingen zijn geen ‘rocket science’ en zijn grotendeels te herleiden naar de principes van kwaliteitsmanagement, zoals die zich in de loop der jaren hebben ontwikkeld. Niet voor niets wordt Lean vaak in één adem genoemd met benaderingen als Agile en Scrum.

En dat zet aan tot reflectie: zouden organisatie die altijd veel geïnvesteerd hebben in kwaliteitsontwikkeling daar nù juist voordeel uit (kunnen) halen? Hebben zij een groter aanpassingsvermogen? Zijn zij ‘wendbaarder en flexibeler’ omdat zij gewend zijn om vanuit klantperspectief te werken en te organiseren, processen centraal te stellen, verantwoordelijkheden laag in de organisatie te leggen en continu te werken aan verbetering? Een boeiende vraag om het komend jaar verder in te duiken!

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