Solid support. When you’re trying to change tracks.


What was the brief?
How can we help our station supervisors and their managers to feel more secure in their changing roles by helping them to develop, manage and run railway stations and the adjoining areas?

What were the key features of the context?
Dutch Railways (NS) wanted to focus on making its stations more pleasant for travellers, and on promoting the interests of local retailers, residents and working people.

How did Innova transform the situation?
We developed a 12-month learning pathway consisting of four modules, based on four core values. Every three months we held a training session, an in-company workgroup, a job-oriented session and a result-sharing session. The four core values were:

  1. Working together: create purposeful collaboration
  2. A market and customer focus: learn to see things through customers’ eyes, fine-tuning with the internal organisation and promoting interaction with the customer base
  3. Entrepreneurial: exercise influence by addressing the concerns and interests of the various parties involved
  4. Result-based: clearly distinguish between means and ends.

Staff from all the regions worked in small training groups on operational improvements and renewal:

  • In the job-oriented sessions, we worked with internal or external partners on improving professional expertise
  • At the end of each module the participants presented their results to other station supervisors, regional managers, Dutch Railways senior management, and customers. These all gave us feedback, which we then incorporated into the next module.

What has changed?
We fleshed out the station supervisor’s changing role with a set of job-specific 5-point scales. This enabled us to measure the improvement from start to finish. We aimed for an average improvement of 1.0. The result was 1.4. Here are some of the responses we received:

  • Station supervisor: ‘I used to do more by email or phone. Now I see the importance of getting people round the table, face to face.’
  • Manager (about station supervisors): ‘They’re taking more initiative, are more critical of their own roles, and are good at motivating others.’
  • Director (about managers): ‘Relations with our stakeholders have improved.’

‘It was fascinating and exciting to see the practical relevance and impact on our daily routine, which had been resistant to change. Johan and Marret effectively delivered structure, meaning and content through their personal, result-driven approach, and by being bold and brave enough to experiment. We also found them very nice to work with.’

Paul FölscheDirector, Operations Management, NS Railway Stations