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Case drechtwerk - new shoes today

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  • 1. 1 NEW SHOES TODAY • ROAD TO CREATION, INNOVATION AND CHANGEPROUD TO BE DIFFERENT!DRECHTWERKParadigms Shift in Social EconomyDrechtwerk is a company with and for special people. Founded in the 1970s asan organisation for people distanced from the labour market, mainly becauseof physical and/or mental disability, it grew into a company of 2000 people.They work in several departments with activities ranging from a metallurgicalfactory, catering, packaging... to the cultivation of plants.The company became trapped in the dilemma of being commercial versusbeing social, a difficult stretch in the current timeframe where these twothemes are more and more interconnected. And as in every business, the chal-lenges and necessary changes are big. Production is under pressure. Prices aredropping. Government is reducing subsidies. The building, machinery andworking habits have become outdated.The figures had already gone into the red some years ago. All financial andorganisational ‘short term tricks’ had been implemented. Enthusiasm for thefuture was very low. Only a fundamental turnaround could save the company. Peter Kuipers, interim manager, explains: ‘When I arrived at Drechtwerk it was clear to me that the challenge for this turn around was huge and that it couldn’t be achieved in the “usual way”: by cost-cutting, closing down some departments, reshuffling hundreds of people. And it’s also obvious that laying off part of the workforce is not an option in this organisation. So we had to make this company profitable again and keep all the people on board. The answers came to me from within the company. Our inspiration is the people themselves, their cheerfulness, their disarming honesty, their firm desire to prove their abilities, despite years of discouraging reorganisations. I have never worked in a company where people are so special and inspiring. And they deserve better.’New shoes today was invited to help facilitate a radical change in the organi-sational structure and policies. From now on we would build on the strengthsand development skills of the individuals and groups, and link them with cur-rent market needs.WWW.NEWSHOESTODAY.COM
  • 2. 2 NEW SHOES TODAY • ROAD TO CREATION, INNOVATION AND CHANGETwo major paradigm shifts were introduced: 1. The only way to cope with these issues is to look at the problem on a bigger scale than company scale alone. We redefined the challenge from ‘Let’s create regular work for people with a handicap’ into ‘How can we let the world share in the added value of these people?’ 2. As long as we regard the company as being part of civil service, they will never develop entrepreneurial drive. So we chose two values as underlying forces for the process of change • Dare to experiment • Dare to dream and become a heroKick-offWe started with a surprise meeting, gathering 40 people from all over thecompany and letting them experience the energy that an experiment is ableto generate. The driving force would not be plans, everlasting meetings,perfectionism, budgets and overall visions, but acting today, experimenting,building on hidden potential and inviting as many people as possible tohelp realise the turnaround.Everybody was presented a target just a little too high to reach in an easyway, but always within the scope of their talents. This represented the (shortterm) challenge. Countless new activities, products, services were tried out.New ways of monitoring the development of workforce skills. Splitting upthe big company into 10 new companies. Tearing down some parts of thebuilding and rebuilding new facilities. Negotiating new contracts with thelocal municipalities. Setting up joint development learning projects with alocal engineering school.Some innovations were successful, many weren’t. But the overall result is newenergy with all parties involved. And a turnaround in the figures, putting usback in the black.New activities also mean new ways of communicating about the change: • near the canteen we created the ‘inspiration lane’, a major corridor which was painted brilliant red and where all of the departments put up showcases of their latest innovations • a musical brainstorming session with the workforce to get ideas on how to approach municipalities as clients • the ‘Nearling of the Month Award’ to get accustomed to the attitude that it’s better to make a mistake than to do nothing • celebrating new successful activities with as many collaborators as possible inviting all neighbouring companies to a big nice-to-know- you-BBQ…WWW.NEWSHOESTODAY.COM
  • 3. 3 NEW SHOES TODAY • ROAD TO CREATION, INNOVATION AND CHANGEIt took a few months to change the mood from cynical to hesitant to enthusias-tic. But what’s most important, we started to question some of the fundamen-tals the company was built on. A paradigm shift is on the way.Your DreamThe next step was to invite people to bring in their own dreams as a basisfor further action – the dreams of all employees, dreams of middle manage-ment, dreams of managers.When we asked the workers what they would like to offer to the people in thecity, some of them said: ‘We would like to make them smile.’ It is a nice exam-ple of the exact opposite of the mainstream attitude in our social economy.These people are not deplorable. They deserve to be brought back intosociety, into the economy, to be able to add their special value, to bring inthat which makes them different.Then we asked the managers, and they came up with a new vision for thefuture: several independent companies, cooperating with or joining othercompanies, who insure a healthy mix in the workforce, who monitor andpromote the development of a higher degree of independence in the work-force, with all parties participating in developing and emancipating the mindand the activities.Become a HeroManagers were invited to become leaders of this process of change, to stepinto the light and make their dreams come true. To facilitate this transformationwe used ‘the path of the hero’ inspired by Joseph Campbell.WWW.NEWSHOESTODAY.COM
  • 4. 4 NEW SHOES TODAY • ROAD TO CREATION, INNOVATION AND CHANGEThirteen managers are opening up to their ‘hero potential’ and are taking upleadership for a new company under the umbrella of the Drechtwerk Group.Here’s how they have experienced their hero programme. Daphne Uyterlinde:‘I know now that when I change myself, I change the organisation.’ Erwin VanSchaick: ‘At first the programme acted as a mirror for my current role withinDrechtwerk but now it brings me to a deeper level. It leads me to the ques-tion of what is my personal calling in this world…’As Einstein said: ‘Problems are not solved at the level of thinking thatcaused the problems in the first place.’ To solve the problems of social econ-omy we need thinking and acting on a deeper and broader level, we need aparadigm shift.WWW.NEWSHOESTODAY.COM