Interview with Maarten Holland, Consultant at House of Performance

01 September 2017 Consultancy.uk

Maarten Holland, a consultant at Dutch management consulting firm House of Performance, reflects on two major trends that are impacting the business world – data and gamification – and provides his take on what sets greats leaders apart from the rest.

Data is a hot topic globally as companies increasingly leverage it to improve their operations and commercial processes. What do you see as the main challenges in the field?

The biggest challenge with data is to really make an impact on the work floor. This goes beyond just leveraging insights from data, but also using those to inform your decision making.

Just the availability of data is not enough. Once this data is available and the organisation has the capabilities, competences and the will to use this data, it can then be used toward a ´High Potential´. The next step is to become a ´Data-driven Star’ by using the resources from business intelligence to create impactful insights and a real change readiness on the workfloor. This is really about continuously improving the use of data. 

Gamification is another trend that is touted to be a game-changer. How is this reshaping business?

At House of Performance, we strongly believe that gamification is a game-changer. Using gamification we use different classic gaming principles in the real working environment. It starts at the target behaviour. What behaviour do you you want to change? And how could you make use of gamification to make this change happen?

Maarten Holland - House of Performance

As 70% of your personal development is done in practice, this is where you want to engage your workforce. When your people start to look at their work as a game, they tend to be motivated intrinsically by improving step by step. Using different techniques, we can increase our value added using less consultancy hours (for instance with the use of apps). The power of gamification is that it is universal, it remains useful even in different countries and cultures.

Despite all the technological trends that are coming at businesses, knowledge remains one of the most powerful assets. How important is to be “a learning organisation”?

This is very important. Learning is about people. Through the constant exchange of experiences, knowledge and ideas, their behaviour continuously adapts. A learning organisation develops its human potential by ensuring a healthy connection with the outside world. Learning organisations recognise that, in their everyday life, there is always space to continuously improve efficiency and customer value, while working simultaneously toward long-term goals. A learning organisation requires a delicate setup, the willingness to both experiment and to learn from mistakes. This form of organisation may well be the best way to survive a more rapidly changing business environment.

Lastly, what makes a great leader in your opinion?

According to a recent post-doctoral research study by a colleague at House of Performance, Lean Leadership has a set of defined characteristics. Effective Lean Leaders should be able to listen well to their employees. Both in meetings and in the workplace, this appears to be the most crucial behaviour. The research shows that in addition to active listening, the following four core behaviors are shown most often by effective Lean middle managers: build trust; support and actively encourage; facilitate learning by team members; and set a good example.

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Robert Park on the launch of his consultancy RWG Enterprises

18 April 2019 Consultancy.uk

Following a lengthy spell as a General Manager at an international materials corporation, Robert Park was keen to rediscover his inner entrepreneur. With the launch of his new consulting firm, RWG Enterprises, Park spoke with Consultancy.uk to outline his hopes for the future of the company, and how he believes his boutique will be able to challenge the market.

Robert Park commenced his career in retail, taking up a string of General Store Manager positions with companies – including Poundstretcher and The Gadget Shop – before making the 2005 move that would lead him to a 13-year stay with Morgan Advanced Materials. First taking up a role as Production Supervisor with the organisation, Park quickly worked his way to the upper echelons of the group. By 2013, he held the role of UK Operations Manager for the company’s UK ceramic core business, Certech UK, before seeing out his final four years at the firm as General Manager, leading the senior management team and strategic direction of the business.

Despite his success with the firm, however, Park found himself getting itchy feet. A change of career seemed increasingly appealing, and by February 2019, the time to take a new path had arrived.

Park explained: “I was losing the ability to to use the entrepreneurial flair that I had enjoyed in the past; the organisation was moving more towards a structured and common approach for doing things, and that made me feel restricted. I also really enjoy the troubleshooting, problem solving side of my role. However, having been in my last post for four years, the troubleshooting and firefighting was long behind me. I realised that I am really energised by tackling difficult issues or turning around things that are clearly struggling.”

New consulting firm RWG Enterprises launches

His criteria for a new career seemed to point conclusively in the direction of management consulting, and while his CV has no formal experience in the sector, Park believes his career to date has provided him with a wealth of transferable skills. During his time with Certech at Morgan Advanced Materials, he became a Senior Manager at the age of just 21, and went on to succeed in a harsh factory environment where six former candidates had previously failed to deliver results.

Later, he became the group’s youngest General Manager in its history, and was involved in the turnaround of numerous departments. He also developed vast experience dealing with a wide range of ‘people’ challenges, including re-organisation, talent development, talent acquisition and leadership development. Along the way, Park noted that he learned to deal with large, blue chip organisations such as Rolls Royce, securing major long-term contracts worth upwards of £25 million.

Now, he hopes to take that know-how and apply it to the diverse world of consulting work. Park elaborated: “I really want to be able to help organisations that feel that there is no hope or have lost faith in the business… Having been there myself I know how helpful it would have been to have someone to refer to in times of crisis… The firm will also focus on leadership development, as I spent a lot of time with the global graduate program during my corporate career… and I was really motivated to see these individuals grow and develop… helping them to find their own way through challenging situations.

New enterprise

Park’s new Derby-based consultancy, RWG Enterprises, will focus on five key operational fronts. As stated, leadership development and business rescue will be two of these areas, as well as manufacturing – where the firm will tackle challenges such as new product introduction. RWG will also offer financial advisory services and strategic business planning offerings.

While Park is understandably guarded about the firm’s initial engagements, he revealed that he has been “speaking at length to a well-known university and business school about providing mentoring and coaching support to students.” In the long-term, the aim is for RWG Enterprises to take on engagements from clients across the industrial spectrum. He added that as “the company is very embryonic”, it would be “foolish” to become too focused on target clients at this stage.

When asked how RWG Enterprises intends to differentiate itself from the rest of the pack, in an ever-more-crowded UK consulting sector, Park is undaunted by the task ahead. He stated, “I think the main differentiator is that we are small... I have operated at a very senior level for many years but I have enjoyed a very diverse background having worked in most functions within my last organisation. I also won’t take on any work or clients that I feel I cannot deliver value for, I am honest and ethical and am really motivated by seeing others become successful… The main thing I am focused on is 'can I add value' and 'can I help?'”