Eeuwig begint vandaag (The next 100 begin today)

The Netherlands Aerospace Centre (NLR) is the Dutch knowledge organisation in the aerospace field. A worldwide authority, based in the Netherlands, whose mission is to make the aerospace industry more sustainable, safer, more efficient and more effective.

NLR operates in a complex landscape in which the challenges in the aerospace industry are always bigger than the current possibilities. Physical security and cybersecurity are growing themes worldwide, but so too are the relentless expansion of international air traffic, digitalisation and European developments in defence and security policy. These all impact on the organisation. And in 2019, the NLR celebrates its centenary.

Put it all together and you have enough good reasons for the NLR to draw up a new strategy that will ensure it maintains and expands its authoritative position as it heads into the future. Because the next 100 years begin today.

The key task facing the NLR is to become an agile learning organisation that can continuously adjust and adapt to new developments in the sector and operate at the forefront of knowledge development and innovations. This requires a culture in which professionals can be open, discuss and learn, and in which responsibilities are placed lower in the organisation. The NLR asks PROOF to help it in this challenge and create alignment around the new strategy.

Begin with an appealing, visual story

Our first step is to translate the strategy into an inspiring, pride-stimulating story and a simple one-page visualisation that makes the strategy clear. The story places the employees in the context of the NLR’s heritage, the organisation’s vision for the coming years, the steps to be taken and their role in this.

A concept provides coherence

Drawing on the NLR’s first hundred years and its ambition for the future, PROOF develops the 2019/2119 concept. Because why shouldn’t the NLR continue to exist for another century? Or more? But being a leader for the next 100 years is a step-by-step process. Remaining an authority doesn’t happen by itself. The NLR must earn that position year in year out.

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A clear communication cycle fosters consistency

Next, we set up a communication cycle to kick off the drive to a future-oriented and learning organisation. This cycle helps the NLR increase the consistency of its internal communication.

The strategy launch is set for June 2018, at a summer party for all employees. PROOF helps the NLR conceive and organise the gathering in which interaction and a good balance between content and fun are central. It’s a moment to look back and to look forward and provides a platform for the management team to personally include employees in the strategy. And it gives employees the chance to share their own perspectives. In the plenary part of the event, for example, they can use a Catchbox microphone, a soft, throwable mic, to give their reaction. They can also hang their wish for the future of the NLR in one of the wishing trees that decorate the site. The day garners positive reactions and gives employees a taste of the new strategic and communicative wind that is going to blow through the organisation.

Managers central in the transition to Agile

While developing the event, the NLR has also started working with its managers. The focus is on collecting input so it can create an optimal match between leadership development and its managers’ wishes and needs. Interactive workshops discuss topics such as giving and accepting feedback, storytelling and thinking in terms of opportunities rather than problems.

These sessions are an important first step towards realising the transition. To claim authority over the coming 100 years, the NLR will need a leadership style that focuses on the future and supports a learning organisation. The next 100 begin today.