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Learning History tool helps province by network approach

Today's world is more dynamic than ever and new developments are everywhere. Organisations respond to new challenges. Local authorities are experimenting with new forms of management, such as networked working (network governance) in the province of Zuid-Holland. TNO is supporting this organisation as it learns and introduces this new way of working using elements from a tried and tested tool for innovation projects: the Learning History.

Increasingly, our world is organized into networks; the complexity of issues is increasing and the influence of government is shrinking. The province of Zuid-Holland sees an opportunity to respond to these developments in the form of networked working. This new method of working can also be a solution to some other of today's challenges. In this connecting role, they need to cooperate with local actors when designing and executing their policies. That means there's a lot of work to be done, but because of the current budget cuts there is not enough money to use the traditional approaches. Networked working offers an ideal solution that could enable the province to achieve its ambitions in spite of everything, because:

  • networked working is better suited to the dynamics of today's modern society
  • it promotes cooperation through the sharing of knowledge and open dialogue
  • it provides more scope for individual initiative
  • this means it is more challenging and inspiring for employees
  • it is more flexible and effective than traditional bureaucratic methods of working

Learning History as an effective tool

In 2012 the province set up four pilot schemes in order to experiment with networked working. TNO was contracted to help facilitate this learning process and to help make results more visible. To do this, TNO is making use of elements of the Learning History. Learning History is a method of distinguishing between what factually happened and how those involved experienced what happened. To complete the story, this is all supplemented by a critical review by independent experts. This ensures that all the possible angles are covered: personal experiences, successes as well as any controversies or hot potato issues. This makes Learning History an effective tool with which to share and deepen learning experiences.

Making the most of organizational potential

TNO has successfully used Learning History in order to build and enhance the quality and effectiveness of innovation processes in organizational networks. These are usually complex processes and generally not much time is set aside for learning. But in the province of Zuid-Holland, the learning process has focused primarily on making a mental shift. A networked organization will operate much more on the basis of people's real motivations rather than orders from above; the emphasis will be on actions, sharing knowledge, cooperation and open dialogue. This requires managers and employees to learn to let go of their control and allow people space to use their initiative. Not everyone is capable of this. The Zuid-Holland employees and managers chosen to participate in the pilot schemes for networked working were selected with great care. They looked at who would be motivated to work in this new way and who already had some experience of this, in order to make the most of the potential of the organization.

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