Goal oriented way of working at RVO

Urgency and goal

Several years ago, the Dutch Enterprise Agency (Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland, RVO) introduced the “Customer Insight” team. The Customer Insight team was established to enhance the customer experience for RVO clients, primarily entrepreneurs. From 2021, the team adopted a matrix structure, comprising four multidisciplinary Agile Service Improvement Teams (SVTs) and five specific expertise teams (customer research, customer journey, data analysis, service design, and Kanban). Each employee is a member of both an SVT and an expertise team. During this transition to the SVT approach, many employees took on new roles with new responsibilities. This new way of working and the numerous personnel changes brought about significant changes in a short period.

The upcoming period is all about building, learning, and experimenting, ensuring that the new way of working works for the teams. While much emphasis was placed on work in the Service Improvement Teams, how do you ensure that the collaboration and knowledge sharing of the expertise teams also receive sufficient attention?

In July 2022, RVO expressed the need to transform the team of eight data analysts into a cohesive and high-performing unit. We saw a good fit with Bliss freelancer Niels Blonk, an experienced manager with knowledge of the digital world who understands the essential factors for a well-functioning team.

Blokker partnered with Bliss to improve the customer experience for deliveries and returns of garden articles (and keep the customer service as a whole accesible and operational). To create lasting change through effective improvements and achieve results fast, Bliss organised a Design Sprint at Blokker. This Sprint was facilitated by Lize and Rogier, two experienced moderators, and functioned as a catalyst for creative initiatives and practical improvements to internal processes.

“Niels has the qualities to boost the quality of team service delivery and improve collaboration and job satisfaction through the structure he has established. He has ensured a clear and healthy focus on achieving our annual objectives. This definitely contributes to the impact of the Customer Insight team for both customers and RVO as an organization.”


Approach and realisation

“At the start of this assignment, I began by listening attentively. I engaged in conversations with the various data analysts in the expertise team and the stakeholders around them. Three themes emerged that guided me towards an appropriate approach for this assignment.”Promoting a sense of unity and collaboration “The group of data analysts is spread across the Netherlands. To promote collaboration, I implemented a few quick wins. One simple yet effective step was creating a Teams chat and WhatsApp group to make it easier for them to connect. Over time, people started using these platforms to seek help with the challenges they faced in their daily work. Another quick win was scheduling team days. These were not just for working side by side but for engaging in activities where physical presence was beneficial, such as brainstorming or workshops, always accompanied by a shared lunch. Additionally, we initiated a regular ‘check-in’ on Monday mornings to discuss progress, obstacles, and requests for assistance, and at the end of the week, we shared ‘weekly wins.’ This was important for fostering a positive atmosphere within the team. By regularly showing each other the significant, as well as small achievements and milestones, trust and pride in their work grew.”Setting team goals “To create a clearer focus for the data analyst team, I introduced the OKR methodology, which stands for Objectives & Key Results. This methodology provided the team with a focus on realistic and measurable quarterly goals and a framework to ensure active work towards those goals. These shared goals stimulated collaboration on underlying projects and the development of expertise. Examples include standardizing reports and optimizing processes with the help of AI. At the end of the quarter, we had executed our planned OKR initiatives as a team, rather than having them get buried beneath daily tasks. We conducted retrospectives to systematically review the results and the process. We then incorporated these insights into the next quarter.”Achieving measurable results “What was still missing was a way to make the results achieved by the team measurable and track their progress. I introduced a method to the team, which they further developed. Together, we mapped nearly all available (and desired) metrics within RVO and created a measurement plan, which was added as a standard element to SVT project proposals. The measurement plan describes what, how, when, and who should measure the results. For instance, when measuring the conversion rate of a new online RVO application form, it’s important to know this before developing the registration procedure, so tracking code can be integrated. This ensured that teams not only thought about the activities needed to achieve a goal but also the value and results these activities would yield.”Innovating together

“To continue innovating as a data team, in addition to quarterly initiatives, we organized a ‘Data Three Days.’ During these days, different departments from all corners of RVO (an organization with over 6,000 employees) came together to find innovative solutions to data-related issues within RVO. One concrete outcome was speeding up the analysis of call center conversation notes. Data specialists were reading approximately 20 hours of conversation notes per month. This could be automated using smart AI text mining tools. When I realized this, I worked with a few analysts to launch a new project. My role in this project mainly involved stakeholder management, finding the right approach to bring various experts in this field together, securing funding, and facilitating the associated sessions. My experience with cloud and data projects was invaluable here. I believe this can become a compelling business case that will save analysts a lot of time, costs, and frustration.”

Key deliverables

  • Introduced the OKR framework to the entire Customer Insight team
  • Optimized the meeting structure
  • Raised the level of knowledge within data analysis
  • Standardized workflows through various templates
  • Launched an AI text mining project
  • Fostered a more positive and efficient collaborative team

“What I’m most proud of is that during the last retrospective, the team themselves acknowledged that they have become a much closer-knit team, have started working with clear objectives, and know how to support each other effectively.”