Governments become strategically flexible thanks to microprojects

Public & Social Profit sector


The City of Antwerp sets a good example in terms of strategic flexibility. An example that Prof. Hans Mulder likes to mention with pleasure. At the City of Antwerp, he experienced that change is only truly possible if the entire organization is involved in it: employees as well as executives. Furthermore, education plays a pivotal role. For the fourth time at AMS, we train employees from several different city services, Local Police and the Antwerp CPAS (OCMW). We were asked to develop a customized program, after management realized that the organization was in need of training to teach employees how to think innovatively.

Flexibility does not only mean making plans, but carrying them out as well. This ‘carry out’ part happens in the shape of microprojects, which are defined by executives, followed by employees, and then implemented in practice. Hence, this implies that strategy is not only ‘thinking’, but ‘doing’ as well.

Microprojects within government organizations

The profit is all in seeing how much you can learn from each other. Each executive ought to steer their own department and always look for ways to improve the processes within their department. The biggest obstacle seems to be ‘defining concise projects’. The bigger the project, the more cooperation it requires and the more chance of miscommunication and failure.

"The biggest obstacle seems to be ‘defining concise projects'."

For example, "improving the city by deploying Big Data” is too large an objective. To get a solid return, you have to create more concrete and smaller projects that are aligned with specific target groups and services. The course of IT projects says quite a lot about the cooperation between individuals, and technology only plays a relatively small role in this. After all, big data is a means – instead of a purpose in itself – to organize things better, to know what already lives in the city, to discover which information you already have on citizens, or to discover which services are unnecessary. That is a saving as well.

Results and talent management

Hence, there is not only a relationship between the size of the project and its success rate. Microprojects do not only produce results for the organization, but also contribute to talent management. Because you give your employees the opportunity to innovate their own processes, you provide them with a platform. Too many talents within the organization are only exploited outside the organization. Think about employees’ pastimes after working hours, such as voluntary work in associations.

"Let employees start up microprojects and present them to the organization. This way, you are not only building the company’s achievements, but the business culture as well."

If you give people the opportunity to carry out microprojects during their working hours, you will profile the talent management of your organization. By letting employees present these projects to all different organizational levels and management, employees can show how they contribute to the organization. This way, you are not only building the company’s achievements, but the business culture as well, in which change is allowed and fun at the same time!

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