Contact Me

Tel: +31 611 526 090

joan.vandenbrink@arabaconsulting.com / info@arabaconsulting.com

Amsterdam, Netherlands

@joan_vd_brink

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© 2019, 2020 by Joan van den Brink . Proudly created with Wix.com

Recipes

They say that chemists make great chefs.  I love to cook, both tried and tested favourites and trying out new ones; learning new techniques, using novel ingredients or adapting recipes using my instincts and what I have in my storecupboard.  The way I work with clients is just like cooking; together we determine what result you want to achieve and what ingredients to use - people, data, resources - and either used tried and tested strategies or develop new ones unique to your situation.  We learn from each stage, reviewing the outcomes and adjusting as needed.

 

Below you will get a flavour of the range of situations and solutions that I have developed with clients.  If you like these receipes and want to learn more about how I can work with you, please contact me (see details below).

Professional Capabilities

Becoming a professional is hard.  Because of your education and working background, it will be assumed you are already fit for the job.  Added to that, the fast pace of change in an increasingly VUCA world means that, as professionals, you need to constantly review and, in many cases, reinvent the way that you add value to your organisation.  One key element to this is upgrading your professional capabilities – the skills, knowledge and abilities that you employ in your work.  In this recipe I show you an approach that I used to do this for the Procurement function.  You can adapt this to suit your own needs, and of course, different areas of your organisation. 

  

Ingredients:

Clear direction from the leadership team and commitment to development for all

Executive sponsors for the project

Multi-disciplinary project team comprising client & consultant persons

Research on external views on the future of Procurement

Interviews with external thought leaders and internal professionals

Expertise in learning, organisational development and culture change

Critical insight to how the function contributes to realising the business strategy

 

Method:

  1. Clearly state your aim: The CPO lays out her vision for Procurement, to be the “partners of choice” for business and suppliers and what she believes is needed – granularity on the skills, knowledge & behaviours (capabilities) that procurement professionals need to demonstrate to secure their seat at the table as trusted business advisors.  She set a clear goal of a 20% uplift in their capabilities within 2 years.

  2. Select the project team: The executive sponsors for “Procurement Excellence” select individuals from across the function, with the drive and energy to realise this strategic priority, to form the core project team and engage me for my expertise and experience in translating strategic priorities into tangible people outcomes.

  3. Do your research: Views from thought leaders, professional organisations, reports, papers etc. are garnered to understand future trends and the changing nature of supply chains.

  4. Start to socialise the ideas: Canvass input and views from representatives across the organisation – different levels, roles, local, global, regional – on the critical issues & priorities and the resultant needs in terms of Capabilities.

  5. Create a ‘straw man’: The various inputs are synthesised into a Framework of 9 Professional Capabilities that define the ‘must have’ and ‘supporting’ capabilities (in areas such as strategic partnering, risk management and data analytics).

  6. Validate the content: Internal workshops are then run to test and refine the content of the Framework.  Three versions of the Framework are built to cater to different types of use – the full, detailed document, a 2-page summary, and a 1-page infographic for in-depth understanding of the requirements, a high-level overview and visual reminder, respectively.

  7. Articulate the rules of engagement for adopting the Capability Framework: The core team and executive sponsors have working sessions to elucidate: the value propositions at individual, function, business levels; principles of use; communication needs; the high-level implementation strategy and how to measure success.

  8. Find ways to engage and hook your target audience: The core team works with graphic designers to create a colourful and engaging e-book version of the Framework as an interactive pdf.  They introduce the Framework via a teaser campaign prior to a full launch.  Physical and virtual training is given to all individuals and line managers on the purpose of the Framework and how it will be used to facilitate personal development.

  9. Gather data on current accomplishment levels: 360o feedback surveys are created to measure performance against the Capability Framework that are tailored to the requirements of the 16 generic role profiles within the Procurement function. The 360o process is rolled out over the whole function over a period of months to allow the data collection to not over-burden people giving feedback. 

  10. Analyse the outcomes at macro level: In-depth analysis of the results allowed identification of clear priority areas for development and a baseline for tracking improvements. 

  11. Develop a range of learning solutions: The client is adopting creative solutions, for example, micro-learning, video, home-grown content etc. to curate a range of learning options and solutions to strengthen existing capabilities and move the needle on function performance.

The CPO was delighted with the “great work we did in partnership”.  Her reflection was, “There are many ingredients needed in this recipe, but I strongly believe leadership vision and commitment to people development is the differentiator.”

 

Success factors: There are many factors that contribute to the success of this initiative so I will highlight the ones that I find most important. Firstly, the CPO has a broad view of how her people should increase the value that they provide by operating at a more strategic level internally and externally.  The executive sponsors from her leadership team provide counsel and guidance to the project team and remove any roadblocks.  They also keep the rest of the leadership team briefed and on board.  Finally, the consultant is respected for her subject matter expertise and welcomed as a trusted advisor.  As such the consultant become an integral part of the project team that shapes and delivers this initiative as described above.

Collaborative Leadership

Ingredients:

Principal & leader of SEE Change Net Foundation

7 Senior Advisors from NGO Lead Partner Organisations in South East Europe

Key members of SEE Change Net Foundation engaged in the SEESEP project

Experience from 1st cycle of Project

Expertise in leadership and how to develop strong leaders

I had the wonderful experience of working with the SEESEP partnership, which comprises 17 partners in 7 countries across South East Europe, comprising NGO’s, WWF, Bank Watch and SEE Change Net Foundation (SSECN). The Partnership has an innovative approach to influencing policy that seeks to “go beyond protest” and provide fact-based solutions to difficult development issues.  Internal and external evaluations at the end of the first 2-year cycle of the project revealed the need to stratify the organisational structure and enhance the leadership capabilities of the lead partner group as the SEESEP Partnership embarked on a critical year of activities in the first year of the 2nd cycle.  I worked with this special partnership to help them build stronger collaborative leadership skills both as a team and as leaders of the partnership in their respective countries.

 

We know that great work gets done when we collaborate with others within and external to our organisations.  This is because we can harness the unique abilities of different people to gain wider perspectives on situations and develop solutions that are built from the knowledge and experience that the group has rather than relying on just one person.  However, doing this well takes a special type of leadership where members are able to let go of their egos to put the interests of the group and what the group is trying to achieve first.  I have used the key steps that I took whilst working with the SEESEP as the basis of a recipe for you to instill greater collaborative leadership in your working groups, whether they are composed entirely of internal persons or some combination of internal and external partners.

 

Method:

  1. Clear direction from the group leader: The Principal and leader of SEECN briefs the consultant on the goals of the SEESEP project, the experience of the first cycle of the project, and his aspirations to enhance the leadership capabilities of the group.  He wants to craft a mutual understanding of collaboration and what that means in practice.

  2. Get perspectives from the group members: The consultant conducts 1:1 interviews with each Senior Advisor/member of SEECN team to get their perspectives on the project objectives, success measures, how effective the group is at collaboration, what they want to get out of the workshop and to understand the dynamics in the group.

  3. Design the intervention: The key themes emerging from the interviews are synthesized and used as input to design the intervention, in this case a 2-day workshop.  The consultant builds the design and works with the group leader to test and refine it and clearly define and delineate their respective roles during the workshop.

  4. Build up relevant knowledge and content: There are a range of activities – personal sharing exercises, games, individual reflection, small & large group discussions to address the various topics. The content of the workshop provides a framework for understanding:

    • the spectrum of collaborative relationships.  This allows the group to determine their expectations with regards to the amount of teamworking versus transactional, independent delivery of task; and

    • the attributes of skillful collaborative leaders.   

Success factors: There were a number of elements that contributed to the success of the workshop.  Principally, the consultant established relationships with each member of the group prior to the workshop and got some insight to how aligned their perceptions were. The key themes were played back to the group so that they could see where their own individual views lined up with the group and where they were outliers.  The consultant and leader of the group worked together to create a safe environment in which each person could be heard, surface their frustrations and define clear norms for future collaboration. 

 

The participants got a lot of value from the workshop.  They learnt the concepts of Collaborative Leadership and applied that to their experience of working in the SEESEP Partnership. The personal sharing through telling stories brought the group much closer together.  The workshop provided a strong foundation for this group to step up to their leadership task in the months ahead.  “I have to admit I expected a lot less in terms of constructive knowledge about this very difficult topic essentially.  My expectations were exceeded!”  “I was not sure would it work to achieve what was needed but it exceeded my expectations.” “We need more…once off is not enough.” “Still, good weekend and useful for personal development also.”