As an IT consultancy, Incentro aims for happiness. Because of high competition for good IT people, they wanted to increase the happiness and engagement of the employees. They saw self-management as a means to achieve this. Pushing through this new way of working in a management style resulted in the opposite: people became disengaged. By using prototyping, the organization transformed step by step into their own unique way of organizing.
Using the Prototyping Work methodology resulted in a process, a method of continuous discovery and experimentation. In this way, they achieved maximum self-steering and the ultimate goal: higher engagement and retention.
“Through Prototyping, the employees have brought us in our own unique way where management wanted us to go”
Incentro is an IT consultancy organization whose mission is Digital Happiness. She focuses on the happiness of her 350 employees and believes that the results will follow. This turns out to work, the organization has shown solid growth for more than 12 years in a row. The organization is structured according to Eckart Wintzen’s cell model. The flat organizational structure is maintained by dividing the organization into different branches (cells) and the lack of staff. Each branch consists of a minimum of 30 and a maximum of 60 employees. The cells work completely autonomously and only take responsibility with only 1 KPI: the happiness of their employees.
In the Netherlands, where most of the cells are located, the challenge for the organization is to continue to attract talent and retain employees. More and more digital agencies are choosing happiness as an attraction for their recruitment and more and more people are being paid. The organization needs a next step to stay attractive and boost employee happiness even more. Engagement is an effective way to achieve this.
In order to remain competitive for recruitment, the organization wants to implement self-management. Self-management brings even more autonomy, freedom, and commitment (Kimberley Breevaart a,⁎, Arnold B. Bakker a,b, Evangelia Demerouti, 2013) to the employees.
According to the theory, this can lead to more happiness. Prototyping starts small and scalable. The experiment, therefore, started in a branch. Transforming into a self-managing organization means that on the one hand the management has to let go and on the other hand the employees have to learn to take responsibility. This is not a six-month project, but this is a process. Here, too, we have experienced that management is keen to manage this challenge. By throwing the management over the fence. Dividing people into teams, transferring responsibility and good luck with that!
This went completely wrong. If you want to go from situation A to situation B, you have to use B’s methods, not A’s. So we had to look for another way to enable employees to develop their own unique way of self-management. We need to prototype, experimentally investigate what works and what does not. And then start small. Starting with the team that wants, can, and may. It is important that we use the ownership model step by step.
Ownership only arises when employees receive sufficient information, understand this information, and gain confidence and space to take ownership. In a rhythm, the team starts its own experiments that contribute to the ultimate goal: more job satisfaction through more autonomy and responsibility.
The first team started to become more autonomous, the managers started to get less and less work. Gradually the management team was reduced from 5 to 2 people. Other teams were made enthusiastic by ambassadors from the first team. Because of this, they were also Prototyping Ready to Change because they too could, could, and wanted to change. Step by step, as in an oil slick, the branch was transformed into a self-managing branch. Eventually, the management team was disbanded and there were 5 teams of 8-12 people left. Everything was determined by the employees, from vacations to salary. Trust and transparency were 100%.
Happiness and commitment were constantly measured and in the months that this process lasted 13.5% grew. A Gartner survey revealed that only 13% of employees are fully satisfied with their experience. Recruitment attracted other people, more entrepreneurial people. This also contributed to the success of the organization.