• Rik Berbé

Re-positioning Early Childhood Education Preschool

Updated: Apr 9

Stichting Peutercentra Arnhem (2014 -2017). Changes in legislation and in the childcare scene in the Netherlands pushed Stichting Peutercentra Arnhem (SPA) to distinguish itself from aggressive competitors in the region. [in-DOK] ChangeLabs helped the organization to rethink and transform its market position and to build a strong organisational identity over competitors.


Ms. Corine Hennekes, The director of SPA, tells that the transformation process begun initially after noticing the need to adapt to the changing world: “We realised that the world around us was changing and the change needed to be tackled somehow. We wanted to challenge ourselves by facing the situation in a completely new way – that’s why we decided to bring ChangeLabs to the process right from the beginning,” Ms. Hennekes describes.

“Thanks to this cooperation we got a better understanding of the change and its requirements, and we are now able to accept the fact that we are living in a commercial and competitive world. Together with ChangeLabs we have been shaping our organisation to meet with the new realities. It has been an organisation-wide journey involving our customers, the management teams, and the board,” Ms. Hennekes continues.

The transformation process begun in the autumn 2014 and included several workshops with all the organisational bodies from customer groups to the board level. In the workshops concrete steps were discussed, as well as how SPA could influence the environment instead of the environment influencing SPA and its values. “We started the process by rethinking the focus of our work – the children, in a completely new way. Instead of drifting to attempts to grow our organisation and its focus broader and broader along with the pressure from the competitors, we understood that our strength is to remain as a small local actor. That is something that draws us apart from others,” tells Ms. Hennekes.


Ms. Hennekes explains that she feels the organisation is now standing at a crossroad, right in front of the competitors. In this position SPA has to challenge the local government and its view to see SPA’s strength over the competitors: the small, local actor can contribute to a good start for all Arnhem's 2-4 year olds' primary schooling by supporting organic growth and providing flexible services to families. “Even though SPA already has 40 locations, by being small and acting as the local organisation we get the strength to be agile. The core idea for our organisation is now to grow in an organic way instead of growing in order to be the biggest player,” Ms. Hennekes clarifies.


An interactive collaboration platform creates flow between the Change Labs.


Hennekes tells that the most fruitful part of the process has been the work around the organisational identity by creating its story. Director Hennekes also highlights that ChangeLabs digital platform Howspace has been an enabler of the organisation-wide discussions, and thus in an essential role during the whole process. Even though the initial transformation process has come to an end, ChangeLabs and SPA are still cooperating in regular bases whenever there is a need for a change guide.


About the organisation:

SPA (Stichting Peutercentra Arnhem) is the umbrella organization of 40 different preschool centres in the municipality and region of Arnhem in the Netherlands. SPA’s centres are kinder gardens providing child care services for children aged 2.5 to 4 years old.

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