Due to the population growth and climate change, the water supply company PWN has to draw up scenarios for the future. The central question: "How can we guarantee that drinking water will continue to be available?"
PWN NORTH HOLLAND WATER SUPPLY COMPANY
The core task of the North Holland Water Supply Company (PWN) is the production and supply of drinking water to private individuals, companies and institutions in the province of North Holland. In order to successfully carry out this task, over the past decades it was enough to manage existing production sites.
Due to population growth and climate change, the management of water resources will eventually no longer be sufficient to continue supplying drinking water. For the long-term security of supplies, new extraction sites are needed, sources need to be better protected and efforts are being made to conserve water.
Michiel Mudde of Boer & Croon led a project as a project manager with the assignment to provide an answer to the following question:
How will PWN make sure that in spite of population growth and climate change, drinking water will always be on hand for all customers in North Holland?
Before the start of the project, confidence in the long-term security of supply was under pressure. This topic and issue attracted a lot of attention, both internally and externally. It was up to the project team to build up the confidence that PWN had a grip on the situation, by mapping out the feasibility of potential solutions and formulating a strategy that would enable PWN to safeguard its security of supply. The biggest pitfall of the project was that it would become mainly a technical exploration from an 'ivory tower', while at the same time, pressure would be put on the project both from within the organisation and from external stakeholders.
APPROACH AND RESULT
For a period of one year, from the initiation to the completion of the project, a manager from Boer & Croon led the project in the capacity of project manager. Despite the pressure on the project from within the organisation, time was first carved out in order to work out the project with those involved and to form a team. This ensured that the project team was in control of the project together, rather than leaving it to stakeholders outside of the project.
In order to make sure that a strategy was put in place that could count on internal and external support and that would give PWN a grip on the future, Michiel structured the project around three pillars:
1. Transparent research process:
Prior to starting the exploratory research, the framework on which the research results would be evaluated was established together with key players and decision-makers from the organisation. This framework has also helped to define the research needed and made it possible to plan the work. As a result, the project became transparent to internal and external stakeholders and the much-needed calm was restored to carry out the research properly.
2. Proactive communication:
From walk-in hours, meetings with experts, soapbox sessions to strategy workshops, the entire project team was aware that an open door was not enough to build up support within the organisation. Therefore, the project was discussed within the organisation at each stage, both to obtain targeted feedback from the experts and to involve the entire organisation in the project.
3. Involving the surrounding community:
The realisation of new drinking water extraction sites is dependent on a large number of parties. That is why the credo was not only to explore options around the research table, but also to enter into a dialogue with other parties in the vicinity at an early stage. By being open to the interests of other parties, several collaborations have been established that have greatly increased the feasibility of a number of explored solutions.
STRATEGY WITH A SUPPORT BASE
Even during the project, confidence grew that PWN had a grip on the security of the future supply. With this strategy, the choice was made to invest in several directions for solutions so that PWN will be prepared for the most important future scenarios. This entails investing more now, with the assurance that PWN will always be able to supply reliable drinking water in the future. There is a great deal of support for this among experts, decision-makers and the shareholder.
Michiel: "It's wonderful to work within a company where people have so much heart for the organisation and the product. To lead a project in that context which is at the centre of attention of the organisation, the management board and the Board of Commissioners, is also quite challenging. It is with a great deal of pleasure and pride that I now see that we, as a project team, have succeeded in transforming this level of engagement into broad-based support and trust."