Pieterjan van Wijngaarden
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Pieterjan van Wijngaarden


Netherlands, UK

Change arises from personal conversations

A lot of the work that I do happens in large organizations, in projects that involve many people. That is very attractive to me: working with large groups always provides a lot of dynamics. “Large-scaled” tends to look like massive: ‘roll out’ a plan and everybody heads in the same direction. But that is not the way it works. Organizational development arises in personal conversations, the conversation between you and me. I don’t feel comfortable working in a group where I don’t know the people personally. That is why I always tend to start with an intake or a dual-acquaintance. To me, that is a kind of contracting. In the feedback of these conversations in the group, I reflect on what I have encountered, make patterns visible. That is how a joint process starts.  

Many of the questions arise from reorganizations or mergers. People have to connect to each other in a different way. There may be conflicts, or disturbed working relations. These are often caused by neglect, lack of interest or lack of appreciation. There may have been many changes in management or new managers are appointed to make a clean sweep.
I enter these conflict situations in a non-judgmental way. I use my connective qualities – by having individual conversations and feedback to the group. I ask if everybody feels heard enough and whether I did everybody justice. I also ask if they trust me enough to continue the road we started on. Without trust, there is no chance for success. And when there is no trust, I am just not the right person for the job.

I really enjoy making radio shows: shows that take an hour, with conversations on a theme, alternated with music. It has taught me to formulate fast and with sharpness. It provides a nice combination of deliberation and honesty. This also helps me in boardrooms. It is nice being able to give a thorough and quick response to people.
Making radio is a way to make an intimate conversation audible for a large (or select) audience. It can be a beautiful and effective intervention to bring lightness and playfulness in heavy matters, and so makes them more discussable.

In the LCL of the FCE, I facilitate the participants in working on strategical organizational issues and to acquire a position in which they are visible and are able to have influence.
A lot of what my colleagues and I do externally with clients, we also try to do internally at Kessels & Smit. To me The Learning Company is one big experimenting laboratory.



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