Municipality of Dilbeek tomorrow; A story of courage, daring and release

2016 – The municipality of Dilbeek in Belgium has introduced the principles of the Innovative Labour Organisation (ILO) in all its departments and centers, or is still doing it. In the offices and services of this town 700 people are employed. In the section ‘Good practices’ of Flandres Synergy’s Members Magazine an article about the project was published. This article is summarized below. 

Workplace innovation
In Dilbeek they have redesigned all processes, products and services in process streams and self-managing teams were created inside these streams. The teams have an objective and KPIs. The flows are customer or product-oriented, namely: Police, Recreation, Open Space, Building & Entrepreneurship/Civil Affairs, Welfare. And there is a stream: Support services and Specialists.
Previously, there was an organizational structure based on functions: sport, culture, etc. and services; each agency or service had a Department Director and there were Team Leaders. Now there are only Team Coaches. The management style has changed from ‘check, standardize and enforce’ to ‘advise, train and support’. 

In 2010 a new Township Secretary/ General Director came in. She thought that the municipal offices and services did not function properly. The main criticism was that customers and civilians were not treated well; that employees did not feel responsible for the service and that the work was fragmented what made that it was not done when someone was sick or on leave. The Township Secretary soon received support from some other senior managers of municipal services and an in 2013 newly elected Mayor. They sought advice and expertise on alternative organizational forms and eventually found the ideas of the Innovative Labor Organization and decided that would be the new road. Thus, it was decided at the top of the organisation that the decision-making should be placed as low as possible in the organization. Indeed they themselves found that contradictory, but this is what often happens when a hierarchical organisation intends to change. 

Initially, the new organizational concept was implemented in two departments. But after the election of a new Council, the Aldermen and Mayor in 2013, it was decided to redesign the entire municipal unit. The first step was a leadership program with workshops in which the management team and the municipal Board formulated, a new vision, mission and values. The second step was the search for a suitable new organisational structure. All processes, services and products were described and rearranged in customer or product-oriented streams. This was a time consuming process, it took a year and a half. And it was still mainly a top-down process. In the third step a project with a project manager was established for each stream. Thus each stream could choose its own change process and there was room for employee participation. In this last stage the formation of the teams was the most important thing. The staff was educated and trained for their job in the new team, when they were still in their old job. Once a team was ready to start, and the people went to work in their new team that was celebrated. Leaders who could not or would not fulfill the role of team coach, got another job, such as a specialist. 

The article does not report any results.

Lessons learned
The Dilbeek’s experience is summarized in the following guiding principles:
• Rearrange your organization in a process-driven way
• Keep processes together from start to finish (think-do)
• Create self-managing teams
• Introduce job enlargement
• Put the discretion as low as possible in the organisation
• Brainwash your organization on the role of support services
• Always keep the customer in mind. 

Moerenhout, Ann. ‘Een verhaal van lef, loslaten en durven. Dilbeek naar morgen (Dinamo)’ (‘A story of courage, daring and release. Dilbeek tomorrow.’) In: Flandres Synergy Members Magazine – Number 8 – 2016. Pp. 12-16. Goede Praktijken. The article is attached.