Customisation is high on the political agenda, but how do you make it work? Many public organisations are struggling to find an answer to this question. Which steps are essential to effectively implement made-to-measure solutions within an organisation. The Leiden Leadership Centre (LLC) is organising a three-part series ‘Missie Menselijke Maat’ (Mission Human Dimension) during which practitioners and scholars discuss how to realise customisation in policy and the day-to-day practice of public organisations. During the first lunch meeting that took place on 4 November, guest speakers Alinda van Bruggen (Consultancy Firm WagenaarHoes) and Bregje Mooren (Municipality of The Hague) were more than happy to pass on their experiences, vision, and knowledge on the ‘customisation steps’ and the programme ‘Maatwerk en Regie’ (Customisation and Supervision) on to the more than twenty practitioners and scholars that were present.
Steps for the human dimension
The field model ‘bouwstenen voor de menselijke maat’ (steps for the human dimension) was developed based on experiences in the field on applying customisation. Alinda van Bruggen discussed the seven steps for successful implementation and application of customisation within an organization. Customisation has become an established concept within the public domain. Which is why it is important to establish a common ground of what is actually referred to within an organisation when discussing ‘werken volgens de bedoeling’ (intention-based working). Which is a concept that has become almost synonymous for referring to customisation. Apart from clarity on what customisation exactly is, being able to adequately recognise when to deviate from an existing procedure is instrumental for the human dimension. Being able to correctly, proactively, and accurately recognise when something goes wrong, will help an organisation prevent an influx of complaints by civilians on the backend of the support process. A previously discussed characteristic of customisation is creating discretionary room for the practitioners to actually be able to implement customisation in their daily routines.
Equally important as giving practitioners room to operate is creating room for accountability on customisation and expertise. The how and when accountability on customisation is required within the organisation and in politics is one of the steps. Building on this step, the characteristic of creating trust for both administrators as well as practitioners is also important. It is seen as a prerequisite for implementing customisation within an organisation. Apart from the steps on effective implementation of customisation, ‘system learning’ is central to customisation. It is crucially important that lessons are learned from various custom situations in order to be able to identify what needs correcting within the system in order to improve the system.
Programme ‘Maatwerk en Regie’
Implementing customisation within an organisation requires continuous attention. Bregje Mooren took us on a tour of a programme that has been implemented by the Municipality of The Hague: ‘Maatwerk en Regie’ (Customisation and Supervision). The mission of public organisations is to ‘assist citizens properly straightaway’. Customisation is seen as a means to achieve this goal. The programme also helps the organisation to refine its procedures by learning and reflecting on current systems. The programme attaches a lot of value on the concept of learning together. Where various practitioners from various departments, organisations and networks can learn from each other by sharing experiences and information. A central part of the programme is ‘de Doorbraak’ (the Break-through) in which several professionals with various backgrounds combine their perspectives to create customised measures and learn from each other.
Lunch meeting series ‘Missie Menselijke Maat’
The second lunch meeting will take place on 2 December 2022. The meeting will be conducted in Dutch and is titled: ‘Het leeratelier Maatwerk en Regie’ (The Customisation and Supervision Studio). During this meeting, we will address the impact training programmes on customisation have on an organisation, such as, for instance, the Municipality of The Hague. You can find more information (in Dutch) on the lunch meeting of 2 December here and register here.