Vanboeijen, Regie on location

2011 – In Drenthe, a province in the Netherlands, Vanboeijen offers care and support to people with intellectual disabilities. More than 1,600 employees support and coach over 800 children, youth, adults and older people in learning, living, working and leisure. Vanboeijen has several locations in the province.
The institution has a mission: a ‘Good Life’ for all people with disabilities, a  ‘Nice job’ for all employees and a financially healthy organization. Vanboeijen realizes these objectives together with clients, relatives and employees.
Marjolein Hoolsema (Chairman of the Works council), Michel van Everdingen (lean expert) and Jacob Halma (family and part-time involved in the process) tell more about this project at Vanboeijen in an interview.

orkplace innovation
In Vanboeijen they work with ‘Regie on location’, that is, working effectively to the objectives using their own strength and with participation of clients, relatives and staff. At Vanboeijen participation is not only having a say, but also participating in decisions. In other words, the responsibility and authority are to the location as much as possible. To realize continuous improvement the employees, relatives and team leaders are working together methodically.

The first initiative that led to ‘Regie on location’ originated in the council for relatives. From discussions about the periodic ‘client satisfaction survey’  it appeared that relatives would like to have stronger influence and more grip on the quality and content of care. This is shared with employees at the locations, and they were found to have the same feeling. From these discussions and the brainstorming sessions that followed emerged the idea that team leaders, staff and residents should be more active in their own location. This gave rise to the creation of a location council at every location. The location council consists of a number of representatives of residents (or their relatives), a number of staff and the team leader. In the location council issues are discussed and decisions taken that can be defended from all interests.
These ideas were shared with the Works Council. At that moment the Works Council was reflecting on how they could create more ‘participation’ and what form the contact with their followers could get. In consultation with the Director the idea emerged to increase the engagement between the Works Council and the locations by forming theme groups. In a theme group members of the Works Council, staff and clients or relatives elaborate on a theme voluntary. The assignment a theme group gets, is formulated by a directing team. Then the theme group is
completed  by issuing vacancies.
The fourteen members of the Works Council are distributed across different thematic groups which are complemented by staff and clients or relatives from the organization. As a result, there are more people involved, there is more input from the shop floor and there is more manpower available to elaborate on themes well. The result is an improved advising, new opportunities for employees to develop themselves and more involvement in the strategy of the organization and the decisions of the Works Council. This is financed with the budget that was available for the participation earlier. Besides the theme members there is a core team of three staff that deals with finances and Works Council topics. To realize this method, the Works Council in consultation with trade unions established their own regulations. At central level participation  is settled now in this way. In parallel to this process, the start of the project ‘Regie on location’ took place. With this project Vanboeijen secures participation, even at the level of the locations.

The ‘Regie on location’ project is inspired by the SENSE method of Achmea and LEAN methodology. To Vanboeijen the following elements are important in this context:
• Just do what is  important for the client;
• Prevent the production of waste;
• Improve continuously;
• Think in processes;
• Feel responsibility for your location;
• Use your own strength in your work.
In 2010, a steering committee was installed. The chairman of the steering committee is the director of Vanboeijen. And the following persons are in the steering committee: the manager of the project, a program manager from the line, two members from the Works Council and two members of the central council of relatives. So key stakeholders are involved.
In July 2010, they started a pre-pilot. During this phase, the methodology has been tested and the training material is tightened. Then in October 2010 six pilots started. After the success of these pilots, other locations also started to use the method. In March 2011, pilots started at 15 locations and in November 2011 the next round started again at 15 locations. The objective was that all sites had worked and implemented the methodology in early 2013.

Content of the path
A pilot lasts 16 weeks. It starts with an interview with the team leader of a location. During this conversation the exact goals are established. Next an initial meeting takes place with all employees, clients and relatives, as far as possible. By means of a presentation, the process is explained. The first four weeks are devoted to the diagnosis. This diagnosis is done by the core team of the location (team leader, lean experts of Vanboeijen, a number of relatives and of staff). Partly by means of a survey, bottlenecks are inventoried and prioritized by this team. After five weeks feedback is given during the second plenary meeting on location, the so-called intermediate presentation. Then the core team choses what problems will be worked on and working groups are compiled to start with solving these bottlenecks.
Depending on the type of problem the Kaizen method is used to find solutions. Subsequently, the location has 10 weeks for the improvement phase. The aim is both to solve problems and also that people get confident with the methodology and integrate it into their daily practice. At the end of the 16 weeks an evaluation takes place as well as a consultation on how the process can be secured. Afterwards, the job of the core team is transferred to the location council. There remains a ‘blackboard for problems that come up’ to identify bottlenecks continuously. For example where necessary the Kaizen methodology is used to solve these problems.
An important principle is: ‘do things deliberately’. Why do we eat ready-to-eat meals during the week? How often clients go smoking with employees and at what times? Are these conscious choices based on the needs of clients and the objectives Vanboeijen pursues, or there may be a better way? If there is something among relatives or clients, talk about it. Because you look at this kind of problems, you will come to very surprising conclusions and solutions, never thought of before. People feel taken seriously and are activated and inspired to participate. Some solutions have financial consequences. Because the teams are responsible for the finances of a location as much as possible, they can make their own choices and take the consequences for the decisions.

ROLe-model and guidance
The input process on the location is summarized in a ROLe model (Regie On Location model) where each phase is described in terms of content and planning. Each implementation is planned identically in terms of structure and this planning is kept in a disciplined way. Each implementation process is supported by a LEAN expert who conducts the first discussions, designs the kick off meeting and is the contact person for relatives, employees and clients on the location, during the process. A group of employees from Vanboeijen was trained by external consultants to become a LEAN expert. In the coming years, they will train new LEAN experts.
An important part of the entire project is to celebrate successes. This means putting fine examples under spotlights to ensure cross-pollination. On the other hand, it appeared that clients and locations are so diverse that different types of problems and solutions emerge at different locations. You should not impose any solutions. They just say, ‘go shopping elsewhere and get inspired’. At the regional level, there is regular consultation between team leaders about ‘Regie on location’ and you can see that the exchange of experiences takes place here.
Assurance is still an issue. ‘Through this way of working, we need other employees; this means a different recruitment profile. There should also be attention for this new way of working in the introduction program. Finally, the competence profile of the team lead is changing. By taking this in mind in HR policy you secure the method. Furthermore, also the management teams work with this methodology. This too helps.’ says one of the interviewees.

It remains difficult to measure results. There are some examples of things, where relatives or employees resent for a long time, that really have improved. For example, the look of a bathroom. Through a number of simple and inexpensive modifications it has become a pleasant room now. Relatives have realized this partially. The involvement of relatives and employees on the location is enhanced and there is more insight and understanding of each other’s situation.

Finally the interviewees provide a few tips:
• If you obtain successes and celebrate them, this gives motivation to keep going.
• Execute a project from your own vision; do not take a blueprint from another organization, be critical and make the method in such a way that it fits well with your organization.
• It is important to translate your goals and your vision and to put it in the center of the design of the project. Our goal is to live well and work nicely. The instrument is participation. Therefor the vision and the mission should be formulated powerful and clearly and recognizable for all involved.
• Lay decisional powers at the basis of the organization and determine the start of a track
in consultation with the location.

For more information about Vanboeijen please visit the website: