Corporate rebellious about Buurtzorg

Three core beliefs:

Buurtzorg's team management is based on three core beliefs:

  • Employees (Buurtzorg calls them 'professionals') are self-reliant
  • Employees do the right things
  • Employees can be trusted

They believe that team management can only be properly implemented if everyone shares these beliefs. 


These beliefs provide direction to Buurtzorg's vision on team management.

  • You have to think along
  • The team decides and is responsible
  • Focus on quality
  • No anarchy

They make it clear that team management does not mean anarchy, but quite the opposite. Teams are expected to work within the broader organizational framework.

This framework is established by the top management team and is the same for every team. It's about 'what' needs to be done by the teams.

'How' things are done is entirely up to the teams. They are encouraged to develop their own interpretation of the framework. Team management takes place within this framework.

The broader organizational framework emphasizes the following: 

  • Teams must strive for self-reliance
  • Each team is encouraged to find solutions to its own problems
  • Team tasks must be divided by the team members themselves
  • Teams are always jointly responsible for team performance

The concept of team management is based on 3 core beliefs about employees: Employees (1) are self-reliant, (2) do the right things and (3) can be trusted.

Clear team responsibilities

Teams enjoy a lot of autonomy in making decisions, but also have far-reaching responsibilities. This concerns three areas:

  1. Customers
  2. Each other
  3. Managing the team

1. Teams are responsible for their customers: As teams strive for self-reliance, they are encouraged to ask the following questions and use their skills and resources to deliver the best care possible:

  • What can I do/fix to meet the customer's needs?
  • What can the team do/fix to meet customer needs?
  • What can be done/solved within the broader organization?
  • What can be done/solved outside the broader organization?

2. Teams are responsible for each other: Just as teams are encouraged to find their own solutions, they are encouraged to care for each other by doing the following:

  • Monitor the team's workload
  • Always makes it possible to discuss difficult situations
  • Get help if someone on the team needs it

While teams are encouraged to take care of these points, they are also encouraged to conduct themselves as follows:

  • Respect each other's differences
  • Think along and work together
  • Ensure a fair distribution of benefits and burdens
  • Focus on using personal qualities
  • Solution-oriented thinking and acting

Team solution orientation is guided by the following behaviors:

  • Communicate based on wishes
  • Provide advice only upon request
  • Everyone participates in team processes
  • Strive for consensus among each other

3. Teams are responsible for managing their team: Members are responsible for managing their own team and for dividing the tasks necessary for it among themselves.

The division of tasks (such as planning, housekeeping, mentoring, etc.) follows six guidelines:

  1. Each team member must have 1 or more tasks
  2. Tasks should be divided based on each team member's talents
  3. Tasks should rotate periodically
  4. Everyone should participate in important team decisions
  5. Everyone is equally responsible for leading the team
  6. Everyone is equally responsible for the team's performance

Team meetings

Regular team meetings encourage all members to participate in managing the team. They are guided by the following:

  • All team members must participate in every meeting
  • Team members are jointly responsible for the progress and results of each meeting
  • A clear meeting format should be followed
  • Goals must be set in advance during team meetings/discussions
  • Team meetings/discussions should focus on finding consensus
  • Irrelevant comments should be avoided

Important decisions can only be made in team meetings. The decision-making process has six guidelines:

  1. All team members have an equal voice in the decisions to be made
  2. Decisions are made by consensus
  3. All decisions are temporary
  4. No team member is authorized to make a team decision without the consensus of the entire team
  5. Decisions are binding until another is reached by consensus
  6. Everyone should be willing to make sacrifices

Reach consensus

It may now be clear that reaching consensus is important in the concept of team management of Buurtzorg.

They argue that consensus is best achieved when team members shift from talking to listening. Behaviors that support this shift:

  • Don't try to be right
  • Don't try to convince others
  • Feel free to ask each other questions
  • Come up with proposals
  • Everyone can say something
  • Thinking out loud
  • Cherish different opinions
  • Listen to each other
  • Ask each other clarifying questions
  • Search for solutions together
  • Indicate when you need something
  • Talk to each other, not about each other
  • Indicate when you find something difficult
  • Revisit things that don't feel right
  • Don't fill in the blanks for others

A healthy team environment

The guidelines encourage teams to cultivate a healthy environment similar to what you would want in your personal life. They characterize this environment in four behaviors:

  1. Be transparent with each other
  2. Be curious about each other
  3. Wish each other the best
  4. Trust each other's good intentions

Being transparent means that you sometimes have to address each other. They suggest things to consider when you do:

  • Do it right away - don't bottle up frustrations
  • First investigate, then judge
  • Hold someone accountable by being open, honest, and curious
  • Use a feedback protocol and/or a coach in the process


Finally, five behaviors that hinder team management:

  1. Being too dominant
  2. Always wanting to be right
  3. Being too flexible, or not flexible enough
  4. It lacks entrepreneurial spirit
  5. Trying to arrange too many things

Based on an article by Joost Minnaar of Corporate Rebels

Gus Geisen

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