How do we make our network organisation flourish?
How can we work more as a 'community'?
Can we move to a new structure without reorganising?
How can we become more flexible as an organisation?
The traditional organisation as a model is stumbling and faltering. In all sorts of places, alternatives are emerging that are better equipped to deal with increasing internal and external dynamics. Think of self-managing teams, agile organisations with a flexible shell and network structures. Processes and relationships are more important than the structure in which you cast them. At the same time, structure is also necessary. So how do you design a smart model and ensure that it works together? We can help you with both.
Towards more effect
At Kessels & Smit, we look at your organisation as a process rather than an object. You have a certain goal in mind and staff is grouped around new or existing tasks, objectives or projects necessary for that goal. And after a while, you will need to re-group again, because situations change, and tasks change. A strong shared vision or 'purpose' and strong mutual relationships are more important in this way of working - and more lasting - than job descriptions or procedures. That's why we put a lot of attention into such organisational elements.
People as the main building block
People are the most important building block of any organisation. The paradox is that the organisation becomes more agile when the people are more stable. Meaning that they know what they stand for, what drives them, what talents they possess. Such a solid foundation helps them to quickly find their way in new settings. And to face changes with confidence. Therefore, in addition to 'the big picture', we also pay attention to each individual story.
Our experience as a pioneer
What we have to offer on this topic is more than ‘book knowledge’. Kessels & Smit has been the living proof of an innovative organisation for over 25 years. What unites us as consultants and how we want to work together, determines our structure. And so it varies over the years, as our group changes. Every now and then, we re-investigate all dreams and needs within our company. And tune our organisation so that it meets these ideas. In our structure and way of working we balance individual autonomy with strong connections and a responsibility for the whole. Re-organising ourselves as a group ensures that we stay in the same story. Our structure is not just an organisational chart, it is a living set of principles agreements that guides us. We are happy to use this personal experience to help your organisation find its own answers.
A start-up within a large organisation
Building a learning community online
Two years ago, a large multinational set up an entirely new service aimed at protecting our climate. A group of about 12 people from all over the world pioneered this unique task (you can find that story here). The big question was how to build a learning, largely virtual, community that produces results and in which people can work safely and healthily - within a larger organisation with structures and protocols that are designed for a completely different type of work process. All this, in times of rapid growth.
We supported at the kickoff and then stayed on board one day a week to search and build from the inside out and on-the-go.
Coordinating a flock of sparrows
Online organisational development in a consultancy firm
After the departure of its owner-founder early in 2020, an ecological consultancy firm continued as an employee owned company. The approximately 25 consultants organise themselves like a 'flock of sparrows'. There is no hierarchical management and everyone is co-owner of the company. In addition to customer projects, employees also take on all management tasks - managing and building the organisation together. Whoever takes the lead on a particular subject varies from time to time. Everyone works from home and freedom is an important value.
A challenge lies in the area of coordination - essential in a flock of sparrows, and not so easy to achieve in practice. That is why the company sought support at the beginning of March for the question: 'how do we organise better coordination within our organisation?
Since the national covid-19 related regulations in themselves had little impact on their ecological field work and because the firm's workload always rises sharply during the summer season, the consultants wanted to get to work on this - despite the fact that it was no longer possible to get together physically. After all, the issue was still highly relevant, or perhaps even more so. But how?››
From conflict to dialogue
A productive strategic conversation at a time of tensionA national transport organization was faced with a disgruntled workforce regarding their work schedules. The dissatisfaction was so high, that it led to a strike. Which made it important to come up with a quick and sustainable solution as soon as possible. The concrete request to us was to evaluate the annual process by which the schedules and work packages had been created. In addition, they wanted to use this evaluation as a basis to design a new process in which the different demands of staff satisfaction, operational costs and feasibility could all be balanced. The question was complex in terms of content, but the real challenge lay in the fact that the parties were in conflict with each other. How could we arrive at a productive strategic discussion? Approach We handled the two questions at once chose our working methods carefully. For the evaluation, we held in-depth discussions with various parties involved. We used those to reconstruct the process by which the work packages and schedules were created. Thus, we gained insight into the different process steps, the bottlenecks and the differences in perspectives and interests of various stakeholders. ... ››
A structure that supports ambition
Revitalising a small businessA small company with four partners – that began as good friends starting a business together - noticed that they had lost the pleasure of entrepreneuring together. The once so energetic meetings with entrepreneurial plans and beers had been replaced by periods of radio silence. The friendly focus on each other had watered down to conversations about, rather than with each other. And the organizational model that was supposed to provide the friends with entrepreneurial space, a solid income and sorrow-free retirement, lately only resulted in difficult conversations about money, turnover and ‘receipts procedures'. In the hope of regaining momentum, one of the partners asked us to help them to have an in-depth conversation with each other. Taking into account that not all parties were open to such support. Approach In a first step, we spoke to all the partners separately. The intention was to make real contact with them. And to examine the individual perspectives on the state of their collaboration and get a sense of possible ways for improvement. ... ››
Creating a new structure in a bottom-up manner
From steady start to fast trackA large national volunteer organization in the care sector wanted to transform itself from 12 separate regional organizations into one national organization with provincial departments. The organization offers a wide range of activities for the chronically ill and their caregivers. In the regions, this multitude led to a fragmentation of manpower. Each professional combined many different roles and areas of interest. As a result, they were overwhelmed by work, were often unable to provide the volunteers with sufficient support, and operational issues required so much attention that innovation was lacking. The director wanted to set up a more efficient provincial structure and at the same time maintain the strong sense of ownership and responsibility with staff and volunteers at the regional level. That is why he envisioned a participatory process through which the organization could evolve towards one structure without teams feeling that they were being taken over or absorbed by each other. Approach A project group with directors, heads of department and voluntary chairmen from all provinces set a framework. Subsequently, an intake with each regional team took place. Using Appreciative Inquiry interviews, we brought the individuality of each team into focus and the team members were able to make clear what was important to them in terms of moving towards cooperation with other teams from the same province. The common thread was 'looking for synergy'. ... ››
Making an organisational design come alive
Developing a new structure collectivelyA regional inspectorate in the field of environment and safety was faced with a major cutback in the form of a reorganisation, that was approached in a very top-down manner. The whole process initially led to a lack of clarity about the division of tasks, work processes and governance. In addition, people felt that they were being 'changed' - they felt little influence. And this didn't sit well with them. The director was looking for a breakthrough. On the one hand, his goal was a clear and supported organisational structure in which everyone would be clear on who has what role and responsibility. On the other hand, he also wanted to strengthen leadership and cooperation. Approach An organisational structure is much more than an organisational chart. It is in fact a cohesive system of agreements on aspects such as division of tasks, management responsibilities, mutual relationships, division of power and communication lines. Together this set provides an answer to the question 'how do we want to cooperate with each other so that we can achieve our greater goal’? If these arrangements are not clear to people, are experienced differently or do not feel logical, it does not work. ... ››
Building a community within a company
Pioneering in existing structures
John, an experienced director with a large multinational, faced the biggest challenge of his career: to design a new startup, within the existing company structure. There was a lot at stake. And fast results were expected. In order to be able to pioneer, the team needed the power, agility and rapid learning to be able to do so. The organizational structures hat were commonly used were not suitable for what John had to build. But what was the alternative?››