Director of Youth Affairs
2.3.2016 MBA, AaltoEE
Helsinki Youth Department
• Mission: Make the entire
city a great place to be a
• Methods: Youth clubs,
skate parks, leisure
activities, street art,
• 1,4 million contacts /
year, 2000 hobby groups
• 400 employees, 60
• Annual spending 31
During my first year I visited all our venues.
Four main findings and reactions to them.
1. We do amazing work but people did not know about it.
Solution: New narrative
2. We needed a bigger frame for our work.
Solution: From running services to improving a city.
3. There was no crisis.
Solution: First culture and operations, then structure.
4. People want to work with us and want us to succeed.
Solution: identify change ambassadors
Listening, Building trust
in new management,
Participatory design, PR,
Behaviour change on
staff-level 2014: Staff workshop
2013: President of the Republic visits a youth club
353 employees spent a
10 Open Staff Forums
10 Planning Groups
5 Staff Events
50 Team Discussions
2 Events for Managers
Appr. 100 Personal
All material in intranet
1. Youth work is local and needs to be
planned based on every neighbourhood´s
needs. This means more power to young
2. The role of the professional is to help
young people and other organisations to do
good things for young people.
3. Empathic skills are the new urban skills.
1. From function-based to an area-based
2. Matrix organisation for development.
3. Recruiting new top management.
4. All managers change units.
5. Youth workers get to change their unit if
6. Planning staff : from experts to service
• Helsinki´s leading
department in job
• More contacts to
• More and better
• Bigger budget
Examples: From running the city's youth services to making
Helsinki a nice place to be a teenager.
New and stronger partnerships
with arts institutions, police etc
Participatory budgeting with
Annual report on the state
of young people
Summer job voucher for all 15-
year-olds (appr. 5500 teenagers)
2,2m € donation for
Joint building projects like an
event venue in a gasbell
Day 62 of the new organisation
1. Day-to-day operations running
2. New management works well as a
team. Combination of insiders and
outsiders works well.
3. Managers under a lot of stress. But
there is a desire to make this work.
4. As managers changed units,
different practices became visible.
The issue is not fixed in a day.
5. Should have invested more in
change management for planning
6. We have built very high expectations
for the change. Now it is time to
1. The frame you choose defines the
resources you have.
(department vs. Helsinki)
2. Find pockets of existing good practice.
(visits to youth clubs regularly, social
3. People see the big picture if you think
(workshops, seminars, working groups,
4. Allow some people to do more.
(ask for volunteers)
5. Be frank but empathic.
(invest in a fair process)
6. Make pain and anxiety visible.
(online barometer for mapping flow)
7. Invest in management.
(change management training)
Director of Youth Affairs
City of Helsinki, Youth Department
PL 5000, 00099 City of Helsinki
tommi.laitio (a) hel.fi