Polinfra - Gardening & Infrastructure
2012 – ‘Polinfra Gardening & Infrastructure’ in Achterberg, the Netherlands is a company for earthworks and civil engineering. It is a small company with 12 employees. It is an innovative firm by setting the goals together with all staff and by the introduction of self organisation.
Teunis van de Pol, the entrepreneur was in a classic vicious circle: in order to survive, he had to innovate, but he was so busy surviving, that he had no time for innovation. Thus it was time for a radical change of the organization. Fortunately, in 2010 Van de Pol came across ‘Mijn Bedrijf 2.0’ (My company 2.0), an innovation-program of the province of Utrecht which includes the Hogeschool Utrecht , Twynstra Gudde and Syntens. “Teunis van de Pol had two questions" so recalls Brigitte Slegers of Syntens (a Dutch public consulting agency for SME’s). “First of all: how could he make his business and the employees more self organising in such a way that he would get more space and time to develop new things. Because he felt that the company was too much depending on him.
The big question is: what did Van de Pol do to make his company self organising? “Yes, actually I already started in 2009 by collecting all employees and saying: ‘Guys, we’re doing no good, the market will go back even further. What would you do if you were standing in my shoes?’ Initially they were shocked, but it has also brought a lot of good ideas. They said they did not like it that I arranged odd jobs for them when there was little work. Rather they would take free or do maintenance on the machines. If you don’t talk about things, you don’t know. So now they take free when there is no work and work harder when it is needed."
To help him in this process Van de Pol hired Pure View, a consultancy firm that helps companies to set goals and to implement improvements. Pure View established performance indicators and divided roles and responsibilities together with the staff. “We have drawn up our goals for 2011 in a session together with the staff. This made it a shared story. By working with a dashboard it looks like a game: it became a sport to achieve the objectives. ‘I have scored a stop light for you,’ they would say to each other. That gave a whole new dynamic to the company. We already achieved many goals; we had thirty percent growth in turnover compared to the highest figure ever, despite the poor market.”
However not all problems are solved, emphasizes Van de Pol. For example there are people who do not abide by the agreements or take holidays in the middle of the busiest period. “In the past I had control that myself but now they fix it mutually. They call each other to undesirable behavior. Look, that’s what you want to see. Then I can keep pretty busy with innovations," he says and he continues talking about ‘tekenjetuin.nl’ a new software program for designing your new garden yourself. With this new drawing tool Van de Pol expects to make individuals enthusiastic for gardening. Then there is a chance that they will choose for a gardener to realize the design. “The big advantage for us is that the client has thought already about what he wants. Normally we are called and then you go there and talk to them about what they want. Based on that conversation you make a proposal. That whole preparation phase is deleted, so you can get started immediately." But what makes the tool extra interesting for Van de Pol is that he offers it to other gardeners as well. They pay an annual fee, which delivers an additional and especially stable income for Van de Pol. Besides he offers suppliers of materials for the garden, an opportunity to advertise on the platform.
Now there is time for working on innovation of products and services. There has been developed a new product de website: www.tekenjetuin.nl. There was a growth of revenue of 30%.
Interview Syntens / Ben Kuiken: https://www.syntens.nl/socialeinnovatie/inspiratie/Sociaal-innoveren-om-te-innoveren.aspx.
And see the company’s website: www.polinfra.nl