Choosing humanity over bureaucracy, every single time!
by Stephan Janssens – Unbossers Fellow
I would like to take you back 15 years…
It was a sunny day in The Netherlands.
I was attending an internal meeting at Rabobank where I worked at the time. A fairly unknown Dutchman, entirely dressed in black, was coming onto the stage. The stage was in the shape of a catwalk and this story deserved every inch of it. The man was Jos de Blok, founder of Buurtzorg.
A system was broken.
Buurtzorg is the Dutch organization that reinvented healthcare forever. The company is set up as a group of self-managing teams for neighborhood care. Care organizations in the Netherlands had become ‘stopwatch organizations’. They took pride in giving as many injections and changing as many bandages as possible within a set time. A nurse, putting on the socks of a patient, can spend 45 seconds max, otherwise, the nurse may not reach pre-set targets.
Patient centricity at its best
Buurtzorg turned that around entirely. They focus on helping their patients as best as possible, no matter how much time is needed. They made it their mission to allow people to live longer in their homes with a higher quality of life. Its competitive advantage: a maximum of time spent on patient care and as little time as possible on the rest. That way, Buurtzorg realizes a 50% reduction in total hours of care, improves the quality, increases work satisfaction for the nurses, and reduces the cost to the Dutch healthcare system by 40%.
How? Through self-managed local nursing teams.
Ingenuity at scale
Buurtzorg became one of the prominent business cases of the past 2 decades. If you read ‘Reinventing Organizations’ by Frédéric Laloux, and ‘Humanocracy’ by Gary Hamel and Michele Zanini, you will have heard about Buurtzorg. What started in 2006 as 1 team of 4 nurses, has grown into an enterprise of more than 14.000 people, active in 24 countries. Only a back office of 45 people and 15 coaches works to support the 850 self-managed teams.
Self-management is and remains their core operating principle. It is about choosing ‘humanity over bureaucracy’, every single time! Not surprising that Buurtzorg has since inspired many organizations! Jos de Blok has truly shown himself as a changemaker for human organizations!
A love that never fades!
I had the pleasure of spending 2 days with Jos again at the end of last year. We both remembered that catwalk event. And his story remains mind-blowing. Buurtzorg truly became the change he wanted to see.
Jos, thank you for being such an inspiration!
I also genuinely believe that people are perfectly capable of managing themselves and organizing their teams and their work.
Become a changemaker!
So many people want to hear the story of Buurtzorg and cannot wait to begin with it.
My good friend and business partner Nick Van Langendonck (@nicktheunbosser) worked closely with Jos and his son Thijs to organize working visits for people to listen, learn and adopt ‘self-management at scale’.
The next working visit to Buurtzorg in The Netherlands is on 10 & 11 May 2023.
To book your seat at the table, click here: https://unbossers.com/event/a-visit-to-buurtzorg/
On 31 March at 8h30, there is a 20-minute virtual info session to learn more about the visit and ask any questions you may have: https://unbossers.com/event/info-session-on-buurtzorg-event/
our Unbossers Network
Build a people first-organization the unbossed way:
Do you want to learn concrete steps on how to combine the pursuit of business success with putting people first? Just take a look at our Unbossers Network which offers low-key accessibility into global connections and teachings for you and your organisation.
We will be happy to welcome you there!