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Time in transition strategy




We are familiar with several concepts of time. Horizontal, linear clock time, circular seasons and also vertical time (Caerus) that appears to be standing still. Now accelerating time is added to this: a concept of time in which changes around us keep accelerating. The last of these time concepts has a large influence on our culture and our organization methods.

Many organizations need to adapt ever more quickly to remain relevant to their environment. Not only are different services or products required, but adaptations within the organization with regard to the management model, structure and behavior as well. Those who succeed at this gain ground when it comes to relevance, competitiveness and continuity.

Such adaptations naturally take time. And it is precisely time that is now the scarcest production factor of all. If the changes occur faster than organizations can adapt, then how can we possibly make room for change? "We have no time to sharpen the axe, because there are too many trees to chop," many organizational professionals complain.

Making room within an existing structure for new ones that are created during the change... how to go about that? Small is the new big: if it works on a small scale it can grow naturally. A ripple effect like that is a transition strategy. The smaller and more powerful it is, the better.

Change strategies

Many organizational professionals (internal and external advisors, change managers, managers, directors) see that the crux of the change is the way of dealing with accelerated time. This explains the large amount of interest in methods such as agile, lean, scrum and other approaches that promise agility, flexibility and efficiency (and often achieve it, too). But these approaches have significant limitations.

o First of all, the applicability in organizations with long value chains is limited. For such organizations the changes are difficult to manage. You can't start small in these cases. If you do, you will most likely not be able to get the initiative off the ground, as it will take too long before any agreement is reached. This is an impediment in the health sector, for instance.

o Secondly, a value-chain has to be sufficiently predictable, and this is not always the case. If there is no process from which process steps and task and turnover times can be derived, the change will not be successful. Broad-based processes would be clear examples. This notion therefore applies to virtually all governmental organizations.

o A third problem occurs when the process is, in fact, manageable and predictable but there is no more room for a ripple effect. The required room will disappear when there is such a strong focus on reducing failure costs that all room, even the room for innovation, will be removed from the process. Innovation often starts with an idea. An individual professional who has a new personal value proposition, now has to request control over the necessary time. They will have to prove that it is a rational idea and that there is enough support for it, but this is not always a given for new ideas. And there is less and less time for these processes, too. Consequently, (social) innovation will not get off the ground – and when it does it will increasingly be inhibited. 

With some perspective you might be able to say that the improvements work in a world where the changes still occur more slowly than the time needed to adapt processes and arrange a way of managing the change. The assumption is that there is sufficient time and space for strategic planning and the big control cycle: Plan - Do - Check - Act (Deming). But what if the changes happen so fast that this cycle cannot be completed? What then?

Crisis in the organization?

Professionals feel dependant, held hostage, experience stress, fall ill or drop out. There are studies that indicate that large organizations only use 50% of the available potential. (We think they are right). This is a very important economic, moral, social and sustainable issue. These perspectives augment a widespread criticism on the above-mentioned approaches, stating the human element has been organized out. Increasingly, organizational professionals realize that they should be approaching the transition issue the other way around. For this reason, and with reason, there has been a lot of interest in stimulating more personal, service-oriented leadership, sustainable employability, self-organization, the ‘new way of working’, network management, social innovation etc.

But around these ambitions, a clear method is often lacking. The attention for employees’ individual development is, however valuable for those in question, not a transition strategy. This means that there is a niche for a transition method that starts off small, can also bring innovation to large value-chains, is also effective in unpredictable processes and not only increases efficiency, but also increases control. 

Personal leadership

Time seems to present itself as an obstacle to professionals and the organization, but in fact it is their greatest ally. Collaboration will improve when individual professionals are able to better define the limits of their possibilities. Learning to handle the accelerated time creates headspace, time as well as the creativity needed for innovation. "Don't hurry, because we have no time to lose." That makes working together inspiring, healthy and valuable. The organization can kill two birds with one stone: innovation in handling time creates time for innovation.

Control over time

That sounds wonderful, but how do you go about this? Let's start with the most elementary question: how do professionals handle time? Because if you can objectify, experience, mirror and diagnose this, and transform it into effective and healthy behavior, you have come a long way. Then you can certainly also delegate responsibility over it. That includes authority, otherwise the whole exercise has been pointless. Controll over time is a transition strategy. 

• A unique set of levers on a strategic, tactical and operational level for individuals, teams and organizations has been develloped to support this strategy. Tools, and processes are available for organisation professionals.

• Organisations that implemented this objective, solution-based, development-oriented transition path have actually gained control over time, improved productivity and innovation speed. Cases are discribed and scientifically evaluated.


A broad, value-oriented knowledge platform of stakeholders supports this new transition path. Archimedes is a network of professionals that apply levers and organise meetings during which the knowledge is passed on. Don’t hesitate to get in touch at info@archimedes.nu. 


Maarten de Winter

Geïnteresseerd in onze nieuwsbrief


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