Interview with Maarten Holland, Consultant at House of Performance

01 September 2017 3 min. read
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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.