Improving and innovating business performance is what we’re passionate about, and in our daily practice we come across many great and inspiring examples.
Transforming a working class city into a trendy hot spot
Transforming a working class city into a trendy hot spot
Ever since the first skyscraper of the Netherlands was built in Rotterdam (Het Witte Huis, 1898), the city is known for it's high-rise architecture. Though not always consistently acting accordingly, Rotterdam adopted an architectural culture to develop large-scale daring projects that fiercely mark the city's layout.
With the plan to reshape the city centre after the destruction of nearly all buildings after the bombardment, a spacious lay out was introduced. The idea was to facilitate the car as the main means of transport. Only when the open spaces in the centre were fully filled again a balance was found between the modern architectural landmarks like the 'Markthal' and the revitalisation of the existing small-scale housing. This resulted in a suddenly emerging new visitors' experience of exciting and liveable modern architecture.
An important reason for the positive vibe in the city is the development of the sloppy left riverbank area 'Kop van Zuid' including the newly built Erasmus bridge. With this large-scale project, Rotterdam extended and connected the city centre with the southern part of the city. Also, the city council chose to keep investing in high- and railways, even during the economical crisis. It financially supported the continuation of building projects when large building contractors feared bankruptcy. Witte de With street is a vivid example of Rotterdam’s transformation. It changed after intense city council interference from a run-down neighbourhood with louche cafes and illegal casinos into a cool place to stay at every hour of the day with bars, terraces, restaurants, art galleries and city monuments.
To steer its development, Rotterdam adopted the principles of city marketing. In this approach basic marketing principles are followed like goal setting, the definition of target groups and the fulfilment of their needs. Rotterdam decided to attract families to the city centre, to support the arrival of innovative businesses and revive hospitality and nightlife. In 2014 The Academy Of Urbanism named Rotterdam Europe's best city at the Urbanism Awards.
It voted Rotterdam winner, also for its unique approach to governance. The city's marketing is centrally organised and deployed in close cooperation with the main departments of the city council. The city brand is based on the city's traditional strengths: architecture, the harbor, the multidiverse population and the 'can do' mentality. Recently it is further extended by adding an arty, trendy and entrepreneurial flavour.
Though numbers are not staggering most performance indicators for city development are up. The cities population is growing, Rotterdam welcomes rising streams of tourists and as the city gets more and more interwoven with its vicinity (over 1 million people) the metropolitan functions in the region accumulate. In comparison to other European regions, Rotterdam distinguishes itself with the location of top-500 multinational companies, international research partnerships and of course the harbor: the fourth largest harbor in the world. To further evolve, it plans to bundle forces with 23 local authorities into the Metropolitan Area Rotterdam Den Haag to improve accessibility and strengthen the economic business climate.
Customers expect flexibility
Customer needs and expectations regarding energy change quickly. Clients expect flexibility and collaboration in searching for solutions for their energy challenges. Liander has developed an ambitious roadmap for new services. At the same time she actively supports clients with innovative transport and connection services to help them realise sustainable energy supply.
Precondition for successful development of new services is to understand social and client’s challenges and work together in solving them. This happens more and more in eco-systems together with other market players such as installation companies and energy suppliers.
Operational excellence ánd innovative
Quickly responding to changing needs requires a well-oiled process for implementing new products and services. The operations department (operations) of Liander focuses on operational excellence and is strongly process-organised. Changes compared to the standard processes are implemented through "releases". In reality, the implementation of new services is very difficult and time consuming due to different priorities between the innovations department and operations. Therefore there is a need for a way of working that closes the gap between innovations on the one hand and execution on the other.
Development in co-creation and co-operation
Roelof Mulder, manager Product development and management, has developed a new way of working for co-creating and co-operating with clients, operators in the sector ánd the internal organisation. In close collaboration with TNXTO.
This way of working consists of five phases, starting from ‘Ideation’, through ‘research’ and ‘development’ till ‘implementation and eventually ‘management’. Per phase key deliverables are set to stimulate cooperation with clients and colleagues.
For example the deliverable to describe a clear social need and market potential based on real social insights, in the first phase. This ‘forces’ the developers to be in close contact with clients and the markets from the start of their project. The way of working is based on a close collaboration of ‘product owners’ (developers) and ‘process owners’ of operations. Hereby ownership is shared from the early phases, which makes operation more involved.
This approach helps developers by setting clear expectations and deliverables for every phase, including suggestions to involve clients. Moreover, it ensures a common language and connection with operation. Altogether with the aim to innovate faster, more effectively and with close connection to the market.
By now, the first projects are executed through the new way of working. Reactions of clients, market parties and operations are very positive. At the same time there are certainly next steps to embed it fully and sustainable in the organisation.
Innovation is about social value
Roelof Mulder about innovation: “Acquire more insights in social challenges. Share your ideas with clients and parties around you. Involve clients in the development of your service delivery. Go out to invalidate your ideas. That way only the most relevant and viable ideas will be elaborated.”
“Furthermore, the past couple of months proved us how important it is to align with the process-oriented way of working of operation. An understandable and simple way of working with common ‘language’ helps in getting together. And that is a necessity to successfully face the social challenges of the energy transition.”
Marlien Groot Bronsvoort
Marlien is an experienced project leader and all-round strategy & marketing expert.
Marlien was involved in the development of the new innovation approach at Liander co-creating and co-operating with customers, other organisations and the internal organisation.