Avivo tours the Netherlands

Thursday 9th Feb, 2017

We have been hearing lots about organisations in the Netherlands that have local self-managing teams.


I wanted to see how they really worked, so in the last week of January seven staff from across Avivo went to the Netherlands to learn about how these teams function and are structured.

We had people on the trip that would see things from different points of view. The group included Dannielle Wenn from Geraldton, Mat Brown from Western Beaches, Christine Gibson from Northern River, Helen Chivers from SE Ranges as well as Jenny Webster and Kate Fulton from Executive.

We visited three organisations Buurtzorg,  JP van den Bent and  ZorgAccent.  All of them have self-managing teams, where members are collectively responsible for their results. 

So how does this work?

The clearest example is Buurtzorg which translates to Neighbourhood (Buurt) Care (Zorg).  A team starts with four people who want to work together (often they know each other) in a neighbourhood or community. They check out a neighbourhood, the potential numbers of people who need care and support, the referrers, the community resources and make a plan for how they can take the referrals and provide the services between them.  They choose to utilise some help from a coach to do this and once they have a plan they start.

In the first three months they work hard to establish their team, get known, and provide services to their customers. They have fixed hour contracts, with flexibility to increase work as the number of customers increase.  All of them provide services and there is no one boss.  Team decisions are made by consensus, so that everyone can take responsibility for the decisions.  A coach is available to support and advise the team when they need help to work things out.

They share the tasks to help them work as a team. For example one will do the schedule or roster, one promotes the team for referrals, one will do the housekeeping and one may lead recruitment for new team members and team skills.  As their work increases they recruit new team members and bring them on board. If the team grows to 10- 12 team members, they divide or create another team to meet the needs of the people in the neighbourhood.

They manage their budget and have user friendly IT that ensures they have the information they need to do their work well. The 'back office' supports the teams to perform their work, advising them and management as well as doing tasks that are specialised for the teams, such as working with funders. 

We were really impressed by Buurtzorg as their teams self-organise really well. On the visit we all got to go out with one of the team members for a morning.  They started about ten years ago with their first team and now have 10,000 employees – amazing!

JP van dent Bent and ZorgAccent have transformed from traditional hierarchy organisation to self-organising teams and had lots of learning about changing to this way of working. This kind of change takes lots of time and effort with everyone involved along the way.

The trip was really inspiring and exciting. Avivo can learn a lot from these organisations and we will do a lot of thinking and talking with our employees and customers, about how we can develop and support our own local teams.

- Rosie Lawn (Avivo CEO).