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  • Publication date: 2010
  • Date added: 5 July 2010
  • Organisatie: Stichting NOVO
  • Homepage:
  • Postadres: Postbus 9473
    9703 LR Groningen,
    The Netherlands




Rating: NOVO changes on the basis of trust

NOVO changes on the basis of trust

2010 – The foundation ‘NOVO’  is an institution for care for disabled people with over eighty sites in the Dutch provinces Groningen and Drenthe. NOVO cares for: stay and treatment of children, day care centers for children, housing and service centers for adults, day activity centers, a guest house, family support and outpatient services. More than 1,300 employees of NOVO work for over 2,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities.
NOVO has gone through an organizational change in order to act according to their vision: giving disabled people control over their lives. Unit Heads were responsible for the overall direction of this change process and they started a dialogue with the employees at the workplace.

Why this is workplace innovation
The unit managers have given away the overall direction for this project and started a dialogue with the employees about what they find important in their work and how that may be reflected in the operation.

To realize an improvement in the quality of care, guided by the vision: to give disabled people control over their own lives.

For years regional manager Rik Bakker is dreaming of allowing  clients with intellectual disabilities to participate in society as normal as possible, for example by allowing them to work at a hospital or in a bakery. He also wanted to bring about changes in the relationship between the supervisors and the intellectual handicapped. The client must be the supervisors and the coaches should support them in taking the direction. For six years he wrote roadmaps for the unit heads to achieve this; no avail.
NOVO then attended a project of the Association of Disabled People in the Netherlands (VGN). NOVO was supported by Maaike Smit of the training company Kessels & Smit. Maaike Smit asked Rik Bakker: 'Which room your staff have to do it differently than you want? "Here he had no answer. Bakker realized that unit heads needed self-direction for a change project, for the change to occur. Caring disabled people is all about people: people do this work because they want it and find it important. These people cannot  be directed by roadmaps coming from the higher management. In order to ensure that employees carry out the vision of NOVO, confidence was needed. The trust that people indeed are able to do so, will make the right decisions, are intelligent enough and have enough self-confidence to learn from mistakes. This required a lot of Bakker, who was accustomed to managing by sending.
And unit heads could no longer sit back, since it was not specified  for them what to do. They got and took the direction and room to control that was needed; they took decisions about steps to take, the pace, the locations, the distribution of functions, and so on. In the meantime, both the unit heads and Bakker himself  started talking to the staff about what they find important in their work and how they bring or could bring  that in to practice. In some teams they started immediately, other teams are more cautious here.

At the moment 30% of the clients made their choice for a workplace or activity program. Employees can choose where they would prefer to work as well, mobility is possible. However, this movement is still a modest change, but implies that it is no longer obvious for employees nor for clients to work or live somewhere. Moreover new locations have been opened and new workplaces created for the clients, such as in the nursing house the Gabrielflat in Hoogkerk. Teams coordinate their daily work themselves. No longer there is calculated for them what they need, but they can manage themselves. Employees write their own business plan.
A concrete example of the changes is the clients consultation in which tasks are divided and activities determined. Previously this was always chaired by a member, now by a client.

You can find more information about NOVO on
The article Loslaten! Op de handen blijven zitten valt managers zwaar  (Letting Go! Remaining on their hands is not easy for managers) (2010) by Linda Huijsmans in Slow Management, is attached.