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Becoming agile and saving money in the midst of a crisis






Behavioural change

The Dutch railway company NS had the the highest customer satisfaction ever. But then Corona hit, causing almost empty trains and employees working from home. We helped the NS manage the crisis and reassess their strategy, while making savings and becoming agile in the process.

NS had just formulated a new strategy and expressed the ambition to become more agile and improve results. Due to the Corona crisis, the plan to improve results was put on hold. In the process, cost-cutting, results management and behavioural change go hand in hand. Not an easy task. To have a chance of success, you really have to understand how everything is connected, what the root causes are for (un)desired behaviour and which knobs to turn.

&samhoud was asked to guide the Top 200 executives into their new role, whilst developing a leadership development program to ensure continuity for a sustainable strategy.

Our approach for change

Together with the Management Team, a company-wide root-case analysis was carried out. This revealed accelerators and blockers of the new strategy within the current ways of working. Intimate sessions and reflection dialogues lead towards the formulation of desired leadership behaviours and profiles. Using behavioural science, fun and inspiring interventions were designed for leaders in order to practice and role model the desired behaviours in their respective teams.

With their MTs, we worked to translate the desired cost savings, steering behavioural change to the different business units and integrate them with ongoing processes. On the other hand, we ensured that the new behaviours would stick, by addressing the root causes of behaviour.

We adjusted formal mechanisms such as steering, structure, processes, KPIs and policies. But also to informal drivers, such as unwritten rules and social norms, in order to remove blockers. In doing so, we also used smart techniques such as nudging and gamification to subtly stimulate the desired behaviour and create new habits.

What really changed?

With NS, we chose a collaborative approach to identifying and understanding behavioural accelerators and blockers of strategic objectives. This in itself creates awareness and connection among senior leadership. On top of that, the approach led to an efficient yet sustainable cultural change. A culture where desired behaviours trickle down from senior leadership throughout the organisation through active role modelling.

The impact

  • Realisation of the desired savings
  • A smaller organisation that responds more quickly to new developments
  • Leaders are equipped to lead the transformation and take ownership to get the job done
  • Employees show the desired behaviour: daring to speak up, with willingness to change, more trust and connection
  • Clear roles and expectations
  • Simple decision-making processes

Want to know more?


Want to know more?

Roosmaryn Spliet
Managing partner