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Fortune Magazine  has  visited    LEF  in  the  Netherlands.  The  place  which  has  drawn  the world’s  a<en=on  as  to  how  the  Dutch  have  managed  their  traffic  and  water  related issues  by  shiCing  paradigms  and  seDng  new  world  class  standards.  LEF  is  the  Future Center  of  the  Dutch  Ministry  of  Water  Management  and  Transporta=on.  Here  they have  turned  what  seemed  to  be  impossible  poli=cal  challenges  into  sustainable  no nonsense  solu=ons.  And  it  all  started  four  years  ago…..

When you  walk  through  the  doors  at  LEF,  the  first  impression  you  get,  is  a sense  of  ambience.  From  all  corners  of  the  interior  there  are  sounds  of ac>vity.  In  the  far  end  corner  a  group  of  engineers  is  working  intensely  on a  new  traffic  management  system.  In  another  place  people  are  working out  a  project  plan.  The  smell  of  freshly  brewed  coffee  comes  from  the lounge  area  not  far  from  where  I  stand.  People  are  hanging  out  and drinking  coffee,  reading  a  magazine  or  engaging  in  conversa>ons. What  strikes  me  about  the  room  is  the  feeling  of  space  and  ac>vity.  It’s almost  like  a  bazaar;  where  goods,  are  exchanged  with  thoughts,  ideas and  plans.  There  are  large  and  beau>ful  pictures  hanging  on  the  wall  and in  the  center  of  the  room  is  a  big  virtual  earth  which  works  like  a  search engine  of  projects  on  a  global  scale!


Flex-­‐posi=on The Flex-­‐posi>on  is  in  the  centre  of  the  building.  The  Flex-­‐posi>on  is  an interac>ve  exposi>on  room  showing  finished  projects  and  work  in  progress. Right  now,  a  mix  of  people  are  working  in  small  groups,  and  some  others  are, apparently,  just  enjoying  the  exposi>on. Watching  more  closely,  there  is  a  high  level  of  interac>on  opening  up opportuni>es  for  visitors  to  come  with  sugges>ons  on  solu>ons  or improvements.  The  room  challenges  and  s>mulates  the  senses  in  many different  and    playful  ways.  With  an  abundance  in  images,  colours,  light  and even  fragrance,  the  Flex-­‐posi>on  really  invites  to  get  involved!  All  this  is  part of  the  LEF  way  of  doing  things.  They  believe  that  this  enriches  crea>vity,  helps to  break  down  mental  barriers  and  be  ready  and  open  to  change.  LEF  has been  opera>ng  now  for  four  years  and  the  first  results  are  visible,  not  only here  at  the  LEF  Future  Center  Flex-­‐posi>on  but  also  in    Dutch  society!


Figh=ng Dragons  One  of  the  first  clients  of  LEF  was  Mr.  Leeghwater.  His  project  on  Dynamic  Traffic Control  is  the  current  exhibiCon.  Fortune  asked  him  what  LEF  means  to  him

You were  the  first  client  of  LEF,  what  made  you  decide  to  become  a  pilot project? “For  me,  this  was  a  very  difficult  project,  with  huge  technical  and  poli>cal  issues. Dynamic  Traffic  Control  is  about  traffic  conges>ons  and  how  to  avoid  them.  And, in  Holland,  both  the  parliament  and  the  Dutch  people  always  know  beRer  when  it comes  to  cars  and  roads.  But  I  knew  as  soon  as  I  started  working  on  this,  that  this wasn’t  going  to  be  a  technology  or  ICT  driven  solu>on  right  away.  The  concept  of LEF,  however,  was  at  that  stage  preRy  vague  to  me.  It  really  felt  like  taking  a  big risk  by  consul>ng  them.” Why  did  you  decide  to  work  with  LEF  then? “Some>mes  you  simply  have  to  choose  to  work  in  a  different  way  than  what  you are  used  to,  because  you  feel  that  the  tradi>onal  working  methods  won’t  give  you the  answer.  Actually,  I  really  didn’t  have  a  choice.  The  dragon  was  too  big  for  me to  fight  all  by  myself.”


Now you  sound  just  like  LEF,  talking  about  comfort  zones. “Well,  I  really  got  to  know  their  working  methods,  that’s  for  sure!  It’s  funny how  quick  you  get  to  feel  comfortable,  energe>c  and  crea>ve  at  LEF.  OK,  it  was a  long  journey,  but  never  a  dull  moment!  Kind  of  being  introduced  to  your dragon,  but  s>ll  having  to  find  out  yourself  how  to  fight  it.  That’s  what  you learn  along  the  way.” And  are  there  any  results? “Oh,  yes  there  are.  We  have  found  a  sustainable  solu>on  that  in  the  end  is  so simple,  that  everybody  loves  it.  Even  the  opposi>on  in  the  Dutch  parliament does!  The  solu>on  could  be  used  immediately  –  hence  the  exhibi>on  now,  only four  years  later.  By  the  way,  it  turned  out  not  to  be  technological  at  all.” Next  =me,  would  you  consider  consul=ng  LEF  as  well? “Not  for  all  assignments.  Some  problems  can  s>ll  be  tackled  in  the  tradi>onal way.  LEF  is  great  in  helping  you  think  in  different  ways  and  se[ngs.  So, whenever  these  big,  mul>disciplinary,  poli>cally  tough  projects  come  up,  that need  to  be  considered  differently,  then  I  know  where  to  find  LEF  for  assistance and  advice.  And  my  boss  supports  me  in  that  now.  In  the  end  he  was  impressed by  the  results.  I  really  look  forward  to  mee>ng  my  next  dragon  and  fight  it together  with  LEF.” Can  you  tell  me  more  about  the  process  of  working  with  LEF All  through  the  process  of  working  with  LEF  our  organiza>on  and  especially  the project  team  has  been  challenging,  provoca>ve,  suppor>ve  and  surprising.  I think  you  can  say  that  we  have  had  a  cri>cal  best  friend  in  LEF.  A  friend  that trusts,  supports  and  cares  about  us,  but  also  a  friend  not  afraid  to  ask  the  hard ques>ons.  This  has  become  apparent  both  in  approach  and  methods  used throughout  the  process.  We  have  been  taken  through  7  phases  in  the  process: engagement,  contracCng,  design,  realizaCon,  evaluaCon,  follow  through  and sustaining  the  learning.  We  are  s>ll  in  the  last  phase  where  we  are  guided  and coached  by  the  team  of  LEF.  Throughout  the  process  the  LEF  team  has  been what  I  call  change  agents.  Not  only  helping  us  finding  really  good  solu>ons,  but also  in  a  change  of  mind.  In  our  daily  opera>on  we  are  now  more  conscious  in our  thoughts,  ac>on  and  behavior.


Phase 1,  engagement. First  >me  I  met  the  LEF  was  at  a  café  in Utrecht  where  we  discussed  the challenge  we  were  facing.  The  mee>ng was  unlike  what  I  have  tried  before. Under  the  discussion  the  guy  from  LEF drew,  and  wrote  on  the  tablecloth.  What happened  was  that  it  helped  me understand  my  problem    beRer,  and when  I  got  back  to  the  organiza>on  it was  both  a  fun  story  to  tell,  but  showing the  tablecloth  actually  also  helped  me explain  the  others  in  my  team  what  had been  going  on.  A`er  the  mee>ng  I  was surprised  about  what  had  happened  but also  energized  and  op>mis>c.  I remember  that  I  called  them    a  couple  of days  a`er  agreeing  to  set  up  a  new mee>ng  with  more  people  to  discuss more  in  depth  if  and  how  we  would work  together.

Phase 2  Contrac=ng In  the  contrac>ng  phase  the  LEF  team proved  to  be  very  competent  in  handling that  process.  They  were  very  good  at clearing  expecta>ons,  and  se[ng  up  a framework  for  ways  of  working.  In  this phase  they  also  introduced  us  to  some guiding  rules  and  objec>ves  which  we have  followed  throughout  the  process. When  I’m  looking  back,  this  phase  was really  important,  since  it  was  in  this phase  that  the  trust  between  my  project team  and  LEF  was  build.  We  had  faith that  we  would  be  guided  through change  in  a  professional,  challenging  and playful  way.


Phase 3  -­‐  Design I’m  amazed  at  how  the  LEF  team  managed  to  put  together  a  powerful  divers group  of  people  to  guide  the  process.  The  first  thing  we  did  was  to  make  a quick  scan  analysis  of  the  environment  and  the  current  situa>on  to  get everybody  on  the  same  level,  and  agree  on  the  need  for  change  and  the importance  of  ac>on. A`er  this  we  created  a  vision  for  the  project  and  laid  down  a  strategy  and project  plan  of  how  to  do  go  about  it.  In  the  project  plan  the  LEF  team  was  very keen  on  planning  for  short-­‐term  results  as  well  as  the  long  term  goals.  Later  in the  process  of  implemen>ng  this  really  helped  keeping  people  focused, engaged  and  energized  about  the  project.  The  LEF  team  was  through  this  phase very  visual  which  helped  us  translate  it  further  into  our  organiza>on.  Also  in this  phase  we  were  challenged  to  test  out  our  plans  and  actually  produce  small pilot  projects  and  prototypes.  Then  evaluate  and  refine.  The  process  of  quickly prototyping  helped  us  get  out  of  our  heads,  so  thinking  and  doing  go  hand  in hand.  (One  of  the  ground  rules  of  LEF)


Phase 4  -­‐  Realiza=on Realizing  the  project  was  a  very  challenging  period  since  the  project  is  so  big and  complex.  We  did  involve  all  the  stakeholders  in  the  process  and  tried  to have  our  ears,  eyes,  all  our  senses  open  all  the  >me  to  adjust  the  plans according  to  the  feedback  from  the  outside  world.  We  really  learned  that  the plans  never  match  the  territory.  The  LEF  team  helped  us  stay  on  track  by forcing  us  to  evaluate  and  reflect  con>nuously  and  adjust  along  the  way. They  helped  us  form  a  communica>on  plan  to  make  sure  that  as  many  others would  understand  and  accept  the  vision  and  plan  we  had  developed.  We  also worked  very  hard  on  involving  all  stakeholders,  opening  up  possibili>es  to  help this  become  a  reality.  As  men>oned  earlier  we  also  were  consistent  in  showing results  along  the  way  and  celebra>ng  them  to  keep  up  the  good  spirit.  The  LEF team  was  in  this  phase  very  determined,  really  pushed  us  to  the  max,  and always  driving  for  change  a`er  change  un>l  our  goal  was  reached.  But  they  did it  in  a  way  so  we  as  a  team  and  organiza>on  understood  that  it  was  crucial  not to  give  up  or  take  the  easy  way.


Phase 5  -­‐  Evalua=on As  part  of  the  process  so  far,  the  LEF  team had  made  us  evaluate  the  project  o`en and  then  change  it.  But,  we  didn’t  only evaluate  the  project,  we  also  evaluated, personal  behavior  and  development.  I think  that  this  helped  us  be  more  proac>ve and  conscious  about  what  choices  we  take and  the  effect  of  them.  We  were  also asked  to  evaluate  how  the  process  of working  with  LEF  had  been  so  far,  so  they could  use  it  to  improve  their  internal organiza>on.  The  evalua>on  is  an  ongoing process  that  con>nues  today,  and  has become  one  of  our  new  habits. Phase  6  –  Follow  through This  phase  is  what  I  think    makes  LEF  unique. The  commitment  from  the  LEF  team  didn’t stop  a`er  the  realiza>on.  They  con>nued  to follow  and  guide  us  for  several  months  a`er, to  follow  the  project  through.  In  this  phase they  worked  more  like  coaches  and  mentors and  provided  us  with  tools  we  could  use  to hold  on  to  the  new  ways  of  doing  things  and make  sure  that  our  new  goals  are  met  in  a way  so  they  replace  the  old  outdated  ways  of doing  things. They  helped  set  up  an  advisory  board  to  help sustaining  the  project,  and  introduced  LEF awards  and  diplomas  which  were  given  to  the team,  persons  or  the  organiza>ons  when  a milestone  was  reached  or  a  remarkable ini>a>ve  was  taken.  Internally  it  meant  a whole  lot  to  receive  an  award  and  people  felt very  proud  when  they  got  one.  It  helped  keep the  ‘fire’  burning  and  going.  I  personally  think that  this  is  LEF  ‘s  greatest  advantage,  that they  see  themselves  as  a  ‘World  Class’  service provider    to  the  rest  of  the  organiza>on.


Phase 7  –Sustaining  the  learning The  phase  we  are  in  now  is  educa>on  for the  whole  organiza>on  so  learning  is sustained.  This  is  done  as  part  of  crea>ng  a new  culture.  This  was  actually  a  part  of  the contract.  It  said  that  they  expected  from us  that  we  would  take  the  learning  phase as  serious  as  the  rest.  That  this  is  part  of  a healthy  project. We  hope  that  we  in  the  future  are  able  to carry  out  these  kinds  of  projects  by ourselves.  To  reach  that  goal  we  are  now teaming  with  LEF  ‘s    ambassadors  for change,  responsible  for  educa>ng  more people  in  the  organiza>on.


So who  are  actually  these  people  behind  the  scenes?  How  is  this  powerful workforce  of  LEF  working? The  first  impression  you  get  when  you  see  them  is  that  it  could  be  a  team  from any  crea>ve  business.  They  are  energe>c,  playful  and  when  they  talk  you  feel that  they  are  passionate.  But  these  people  are  very  carefully  put  together  so the  group  is  divers  and  supplement  each  other  in  the  best  way  possible.  You can  be  sure  that  they  will  have  conflicts  with  each  other,  but  only  because  they are  enthusias>c  about  there  work.  They  seem  however  to  be  able  to  work construc>ve  with  conflict  and  use  that  as  an  opportunity.  There  is  a  good  mix  of young  and  old  and  in  gender.  One  thing  you  can  be  sure  of  is  that  if  you  work with  these  people,  things  will  happen  and  start  moving.  So  be  ready  for  it,  they will  for  sure  have  the  guts  to  challenge  you  and  brake  down  your  mental barriers.  And  well,  then  they  are  also  really  good  story  tellers.


Fortune have  talked  with  the  CEO  of  LEF  Future  Centre. Looking  back  at  four  years  of  LEF  Future  Centre,  what  comes  to  mind? First  thing  that  comes  to  mind  is  that  we  really  pulled  it  off.  Then  follows  a sense  of  pride  that  we  indeed  delivered  on  what  we  had  promised. What  are  you  thinking  about,  what  has  been  delivered? Our  approach  and  the  interven>ons  resul>ng  from  it  have  had  a  dis>nct  impact on  Dutch  society.  For  instance  we  helped  reduce  the  amount  of  traffic accidents  measured  on  an  annual  basis  by  60  %,  traffic  jams  decreased  last  year by  a  good  30%;  the  program  ‘Beyond  the  Dykes’  has  been  able  to  avoid  forced evacua>ons  of  people  in  spite  of  the  drama>c  water  level  changes  in  de  Dutch delta  over  the  last  three  years.


You have  probably  one  of  the  most  densely  populated  deltas  in  the  world. What’s  the  secret  of  your  success? What  you  have  to  keep  in  mind  is  that  the  ‘LEF  way  of  working’  means: ‘Working  with  and  through  eight  thousand  (8000)  people  of  the  ministry  plus many  other  partners  in  Dutch  society  and  abroad’.  With  our  approach  we  have an  incredible  mul>plier  effect.  Fast  cycle,  full  par>cipa>on!  That’s  our  secret. And  of  course,  I’m  tremendously  proud  of  the  team  here  at  the  LEF  Future Centre,  who  are  the  first  ones  responsible  for  kick-­‐star>ng  all  this  great movement. When  you  started  in  2007,  or  when  you  began  your  thought  process  for  the future  centre  did  you  have  a  vision  for  the  future? Oh  yes,  we  sure  did.  First  of  all  we  wanted  to  make  a  significant  contribu>on  of making  Holland  the  most  dynamic  knowledge  economy  in  the  world!  This implies  working  through  and  partnering  with  many  ‘strands’  that  comprise  the whole  ‘fabric’  of  this  challenging  vision  for  Holland.  For  us  this  has  meant  to seek  diverse  partnerships  to  share  experience  knowledge  with  16  other  Future (like)  Centres  in  Europe  and  the  rest  of  the  world.  In  the  process  of  doing  this we  have  realized  that  this  is  nothing  more  than  finding  new  and  beRer  ways  to make  democracy  work!

Profile for Morten Pedersen

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