Column: Moments of Truth

 In News

We at Van Duuren are very active in strengthening our internal culture. In this column, I would like to zoom in on how we do that. To begin with: working on your organisation’s culture may sound a bit soft, but it is anything but just that. Working on that culture is very practical and concrete. And: it is ‘daily business’. We work on it every day, based on the realisation that a culture doesn’t fall from the sky.

At Van Duuren we have introduced, among other things, the concept of the ‘Moment of Truth’. We describe concrete scenarios, and we discuss with each other what the desired behaviour of our employees is at such a ‘moment of truth’. For example: what do you do if you cannot attend an meeting? You give notice as early as possible, apologise for the inconvenience, explain why it didn’t work out and look for an alternative.

Another example: In steps, we then work out such a moment of truth as follows:

Imagine: Something goes wrong within van Duuren
1.            We start from the positive intention of the other department and our basic attitude is ‘that there must be a good reason why things went wrong/different’ (instead of talking negatively about the other department).
2.            We look for each other face to face (one-to-one and not via group app/mail) and act directly.
3.            We evaluate forward-looking and therefore look ahead
4.            We give feedback to the people concerned
5.            If necessary, we actively contribute to restoring relationships

It may sound simple, but many entrepreneurs will know from experience how often things can go wrong at such moments, because people panic, do not know what to do and look for a solution themselves – sometimes with the best of intentions – without involving others transparently. If you go through these kinds of moments with your colleagues, train them together and make good agreements about them together, you prevent people from looking for the wrong solutions ad hoc. They are prepared, recognise such a ‘moment of truth’ and know how to act.

Step 1 is therefore: make clear agreements about desired behaviour. As far as I am concerned, step 2 is: ensuring that those agreements are complied with and widely adopted in the organisation. To achieve the latter, we literally place the responsibility on the work floor. We don’t impose agreements ‘top down’, but we make them ‘bottom up’, together with colleagues. We asked each supervisor: what moments of truth do you encounter in your team? They then sit down with their co-workers and they peel off that question so that they can also name specific themes for their own team, in addition to the general themes that apply to the whole organisation.

Back to the idea that you have to make it concrete and practical: we support our people with videos, with a handbook we give to all new employees and with training courses, together with an external agency.

In this way, we are step by step coming closer and closer to a culture that, as far as we are concerned, belongs to our family business. And in the end, it can be summarised in one sentence (because if you read my columns more often, you know that I am not afraid of the occasional piece of wisdom): Treat others the way you want to be treated. In the end, that’s what it’s all about: having respect for all colleagues and all relationships.

And now, out of respect for myself, I am going on holiday for a week (with my mobile phone within reach, of course…).

Every month I write a column about my experiences as founder and director of Van Duuren. This column can also be found on our  social media. Would you like to receive my column every month? Let me know by sending an e-mail to and I’ll send it to you from now on.