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BÄST (BEST) from a citizen’s perspective

Bromölla municipality realised that they were not providing the quality they should be doing for the community’s residents. At the same time, sickness absenteeism was high among municipal employees, and many did not like their work. So they started an ambitious project: to convert their entire organization to that of an organization that thought in terms of systems.


Bäst intervention

(Caption) Project BEST – analyzes sickness absenteeism and work organisation. Photo: Arne Persson

The local inhabitants’ demands and needs were of prime importance in the project. To determine the purpose of their operations was important.

”In simple terms, we wanted to know how the local inhabitants felt in an attempt to understand what is of help, and what is not of help when they make contact with us,” says Patrik Öhman, one of the project leaders for BÄST, an abbreviation of Bromölla Är SystemTänkare (Bromölla is a Systems Thinker).

”We have been looking into this since 2007, and we have tried to find out what it is that causes these problems and if there is a way forward,” continues Patrik Öhman.

Bromölla municipality analysed the background to the problems of high sickness absenteeism and the fact that taxation was insufficient to provide the service they wanted to provide. It was discovered that the problems were related.

”We cannot look at for example work environment issues as a separate matter, it’s just a part of the problem. If you have an organization and a system that prevents you from doing a good job, it decreases motivation and reduces your capacity to work. We strive to help municipal employees to see the entire operation, otherwise we cannot deal with work environment issues,” says the project’s other leader Jennika Anderberg.

Bromölla municipality has previously tested most of the traditional methods for skills development, such as sending staff on courses. But nothing seemed to make any difference.

”Traditional skills development methods do not change the system, we did not get the effect we wanted. Now it’s different, we combine operational development with skills development and we are changing the entire organization through systems thinking,” says Patrik Öhman.

This is done by using the English Vanguard method, which is a tool used to implement systems thinking.

”In practice it is all about acquiring knowledge about how operations function and the thinking behind how we have chosen to organise our work. Only when we understand it, can we achieve sustainable change,” says Patrik Öhman.

Jennika Anderberg uses the home help services as an example. A small group is created, where the entire chain of service is represented, from nurses to occupational therapists. Together with management, you go through how the work actually works. When you have finished, it never looks like you thought it would. 

”In particular, management are usually surprised as to how decisions, policies and guidelines often create undesirable effects within operations and that this affects how we perform,” says Jennika Anderberg.

And the response from both the municipal workers as well as the citizens is good.

”Increasingly, the employees express themselves explicitly and say ”I will never work the way I used to before.  That is rather a good testimonial,” says Jennika Anderberg.

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