10,000 employees. No managers. Great results.

AgileAus17 keynote speaker and Workshop leader Sami Honkonen (CEO, Tomorrow Labs) discusses a unique example of distributed leadership: the Buurtzorg phenomenon.

Buurtzorg is one of the companies studied for Fredrik Laloux’s book Reinventing Organizations. I and Panu Liira visited Buurtzorg in November 2015 to see what it was all about.

Founded in 2006, Buurtzorg has taken the home care industry in Holland by storm. It has a lion’s share of the market. Clients rate Buurtzorg as 9.1 out of 10. Buurtzorg has been selected as the best place to work in Holland 5 times in a row.

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Buurtzorg is divided into independent teams of nurses who manage themselves. Each team is responsible for a certain geographical area. They plan their work together. They hire when they see the need. They make decisions together, without a manager.

What if there’s a conflict they can’t solve? When the team can’t externalise their issues to a manager they have to come up with ways to resolve matters themselves. The team can ask for one of the 20 coaches at Buurtzorg to help facilitate discussions, but the coach has no authority over the team and will not make any decisions for them.

We joined two nurses on their rounds to actual clients. When the nurses went into a client’s home it was like friends visiting. The nurses knew the family. They teased the kids. They took care of the patient with great empathy.

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Most of the nurses have not even heard of Laloux or his book. Most nurses don’t see the Buurtzorg model as being that remarkable. They feel that they’re just using common sense. They’re focused on doing their work well. And the results are phenomenal.

To learn more I suggest you listen to my interview with the Buurtzorg CEO Jos de Blok on the Boss Level podcast.

Keen to learn more from Sami? Register for his AgileAus workshops in Sydney (21 June) or Melbourne (26 June).

This blog was originally published on Sami Honkonen’s blog.

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