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News / 19 March 2024

Both ENDS – quite special

Both ENDS has no management team, hardly any team meetings and certainly no 'director who is boss over everyone'. Both ENDS has had a flat organizational structure since 2016, based on the principle of shared responsibility. This, too, reflects our goal of 'Connecting people for change'.

The home groups

New to most people are the home groups – a safe home port for each Both ENDS employee. Home groups are heterogenous groups, and the members of each group don't necessarily have much to do with each other in terms of their work or position within the hierarchy. They can talk about everything in a safe environment, have serious intervision sessions and do fun things together. And there is always room for discussing the content of our work. There are four home groups, each with eight to ten members. At the 'head' of each group is a home group coordinator – a role that rotates every few years. The coordinator is the HR manager's right hand, and the first point of contact for employees if they have 'something' they are concerned about.

The main processes

The organizational strategy is developed and safeguarded through four main processes: Content, Fundraising & Acquisition (F&A), Partners, and PMEL (planning, monitoring, evaluation and learning) & Quality. The process groups are in effect small management teams with a considerable mandate over their own process. To arrive at widely supported decisions, they involve the relevant colleagues. To do that, they use the RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed) model. The idea of a process group is to make sure that what should happen in a process actually happens (for example: that there is a partner policy and an organizational strategy, that funds are raised, etc.). A process group does not necessarily have to implement these processes itself (the groups are primarily 'roles' rather than functions) but it must ensure that they are embedded in the organization. Each process has one head process owner and three process owners who are divided among the home groups.

Supportive processes

Next to the main processes, there are some supportive processes that do not necessarily have a representative in each home group. These are not roles, but functions: communication, office, finance, ICT and HR. Each function has a primary point of contact. They can identify organization-wide issues through the home groups or at the weekly presentations on Tuesday. Everyone in the organization joins these presentations to inform each other of the latest developments, such as decisions or the results of someone's work.

The challenges

Is it always easy? No organizational form is easy and ours also has its challenges. Ample opportunities to provide input and participate in processes, combined with dedicated people, can lead to a lack of clarity about why a specific decision is ultimately made. Our organizational form also calls for a lot of discipline from everyone with a role to play (in processes and home groups) and an active attitude from all of us in which we take account of employees' diversity.

The results

Both ENDS has been working with this model now for eight years and succeeded in keeping many of our employees closely involved during the COVID-19 period. During that time, the home groups made a real contribution to how we dealt with the major (personal) changes affecting everyone and kept them close and committed to the organization. Many current and former employees experience a strong 'family' feeling at Both ENDS. Connecting people for change means that there really must be a connection. In our vision, that is only possible if there is trust and a shared understanding of the need for change.

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