Strategy & Leadership

Change methodologies in the drinking water sector

March 13, 2014 | 1 min read

Which change methodology best suits the drinking water sector? That is the question that Patrick van der Wens, Manager Production Planning and Control at Brabant Waters, answered in his study in conclusion of the Executive Master in Public and Non-Profit Management. Brabant Waters is one of ten drinking water companies in the Netherlands.

Image: © Nationale Beeldbank

The first step in van der Wens' study involved an inventory of the change methodologies that had been applied in the drinking water sector in previous years. To that end, he used the typology of Homan. In his book Organization dynamics of 2011, Homan observes two criteria for the categorization of change methodologies: the degree of spontaneity and the contribution of employees (vocality). Homan distinguishes between four types of change methodologies in this way: systematic (1), participative (2), natural (3) and generative (4) (See illustration). Van der Wens then assessed each type of change methodology based on two criteria: the degree of success and the degree of unrest among the employees.

Verander methoden Homan

Figure 1.

The systematic change methodology was found to be most often used in the drinking water sector. The natural change methodology was applied the least often. The systematic change methodology proved to be the most successful, though the differences compared to the other methodologies were minor. The systematic change methodology also proved to cause the most unrest among the employees. The generative change methodology caused the least unrest. Van der Wens could therefore conclude that the generative change methodology is most suitable for drinking water companies. This methodology is virtually as successful as the other methodologies, but leads to much less unrest among the employees.

Change managers did not share this conclusion of Van der Wens. They prefer the systematic approach to change and opt to put up with the unrest among employees. Van der Wens wonders whether they can continue to afford settling for this preference. The future generation employee requires more influence in change processes; influence that may be necessary should the dynamics of society penetrate the (until now) stable waterworks.

In the next section, Jenneke van Pijpen puts forward the question of how co-creation in the health care sector can be organized in such a way that the quality of care is improved.

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