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Jurgen Appelo calls himself a creative networker. But sometimes he's a writer, speaker, trainer, entrepreneur, illustrator, manager, blogger, reader, dreamer, leader, freethinker, or… Dutch guy. Since 2008 Jurgen writes a popular blog at www.noop.nl, covering the creative economy, agile management, and personal development. He is the author of the book Management 3.0, which describes the role of the manager in agile organizations. And he wrote the little book How to Change the World, which describes a supermodel for change management. Jurgen is CEO of the business network Happy Melly, and co-founder of the Agile Lean Europe network and the Stoos Network. He is also a speaker who is regularly invited to talk at business seminars and conferences around the world. After studying Software Engineering at the Delft University of Technology, and earning his Master’s degree in 1994, Jurgen Appelo has busied himself starting up and leading a variety of Dutch businesses, always in the position of team leader, manager, or executive. Jurgen has experience in leading a horde of 100 software developers, development managers, project managers, business consultants, service managers, and kangaroos, some of which he hired accidentally. Nowadays he works full-time managing the Happy Melly ecosystem, developing innovative courseware, books, and other types of original content. But sometimes Jurgen puts it all aside to spend time on his ever-growing collection of science fiction and fantasy literature, which he stacks in a self-designed book case. It is 4 meters high. Jurgen lives in Rotterdam (The Netherlands) -- and in Brussels (Belgium) -- with his partner Raoul. He has two kids, and an imaginary hamster called George. Jurgen has posted 145 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

Who Needs a Head Office?

03.24.2013
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Some years ago I was in a meeting with the marketing coordinator of a local office of Rabobank, one of the three big Dutch banks. They wanted to know more about social media marketing, and I had just little bit of experience in that area. (Remember, that was some years ago.) While discussing their plans for using Twitter and Facebook I asked them if they needed some kind of approval from Rabobank’s head office. The lady started laughing. “Not at all,” she said. “If head office doesn’t give us what we want, we simply do it ourselves. Nobody here waits for the head office.

Rabobank is a strange bank. It is actually a cooperation of many local businesses, who operate under the same name. The Rabobank head office doesn’t own the local banks. The local offices own Rabobank! Of course the local offices can do what they want. They are the boss!

With a structure like this, it is no surprise that Rabobank is known as the most stable, friendly, innovative, and profitable bank in my country. It is the only big Dutch bank that did not ask to be bailed out by the government (unlike ING and ABN AMRO, and several small ones). They don’t have a head office with an ego bigger than its wallet. What they have is common sense empowerment, distributed over a network of many small egos. (Sure, Rabobank makes mistakes too. But just small ones, that are safe-to-fail. Not as spectacular as those of the other banks.)

I’m working with my friends on my own version of Rabobank, called Happy Melly. It is similar, but with two important differences:

  1. We don’t trade in money, we trade in happiness.
  2. We don’t have a head office, we have a Constitution.

Who needs a head office when local offices can make joint decisions easily with modern technologies? A head office is sooó 20th century.

And… we have good news for tax payers:

With no head office capable of simultaneously growing its ego and shrinking its treasury, we will never ask anyone for a bailout either!

Published at DZone with permission of its author, Jurgen Appelo.

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)