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.

“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

“During the start of this project, I firstly began by listening extensively. I engaged in conversations with the various data analysts in the expertise team and the stakeholders surrounding the analysts. Consequently leading to the identification of three themes that guided me towards a suitable approach for this assignment.”

Promoting Group Cohesion and Collaboration

“The group of data analysts lives and works across the Netherlands. To enhance collaboration, I implemented several quick wins. One simple but effective measure was creating a Teams chat and WhatsApp group to facilitate easier communication. Gradually, people began using these channels to seek help with their daily tasks. Another quick win was scheduling team days. These were not just about working side by side, but about engaging in activities that benefit from physical presence, such as brainstorming sessions or workshops, always accompanied by a shared lunch.

Additionally, we started a regular Monday morning check-in to discuss progress, obstacles, and support requests. At the end of the week, we share our ‘weekly wins’. This was important for fostering a positive atmosphere within the team. Regularly showcasing the significant and minor achievements and milestones built greater trust and pride in our work.”

Setting Team Goals

“To create a clearer focus for the team of data analysts, I introduced the OKR methodology, which stands for Objectives & Key Results. This method brought two essential elements to the team: a focus on realistic and measurable goals each quarter but also a framework ensuring we actively work towards these goals. The shared objectives motivated collaboration on underlying projects and the development of our expertise. Examples include standardizing reports and optimizing processes using AI. By the end of the quarter, we collectively executed our planned OKR initiatives instead of them being overshadowed by daily tasks. Through retrospectives, we consistently review the results and processes, which we then incorporate into the next quarter.

This methodology positively impacted the expertise team, leading to a request for me to introduce this way of working to the other four expertise areas and coach them. This is great, as it makes team development a collaborative effort across the entire Customer Insight team, aligning goals with the department’s overarching annual objective.”

Achieving Measurable Results

“What was still missing was a way to measure the results we achieved as a team and track progress. I provided the team with a method they further developed. Together, we mapped out almost all available (and desired) metrics within RVO and created a measurement plan. This plan is now a fixed element in SVT project proposals. The measurement plan details the what, how, when, and who of result measurement. For example, if you want to measure the conversion rate of a new online RVO application form, you need to know this before developing the registration procedure so that tracking code can be embedded. This ensures teams think not only about the activities needed to achieve a goal but also about the value and results these activities yield.”

Innovating Together

“To continue innovating as a data team, we have been working on a DataThreedays initiative alongside the quarterly projects. During these days, various departments from all corners of RVO (an organization with over 6,000 employees) come together to find innovative solutions for data-related issues within RVO. One concrete outcome is accelerating the analysis of call notes from the customer contact center. Data specialists spend about 20 hours a month reading call notes, a process that can be automated using advanced AI text mining tools.

Realizing this, I collaborated with several analysts to set up a new project. My role in this project primarily involves stakeholder management, finding the right entry points to bring together various experts in this field, but also securing funding, and facilitating the surrounding sessions. My experience with cloud and data projects has been very useful here. I believe this could become a compelling business case that saves 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.”


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