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Risk 7: Improvement capacity / agility


The risk is that the programmes to promote behavioural and cultural change do not deliver the desired result, or not in time, as a result of which NS is unable to realise the desired growth in the fields of safety, integrity and costs.


We have started a number of organisational and other changes in order to improve the service provided by NS and achieve the operational targets. Making the right choices every time remains a challenge because of dependencies between various improvement initiatives. What is more, the underlying processes at NS are very complex. Finally, a number of improvements also require a change in how staff behave. All of this means it will not always be easy to achieve the required changes on time and in full. The focus on integrity, safety and behaviour based on the Hearts & Minds methods - through teaching programmes, training sessions and management attention - has generated a measurable increase in awareness. NS has moved up on the H&M culture ladder from a 'reactive' to a 'calculative' culture. The challenge now is for our HSE culture to develop further to 'proactive' level.


NS’s effectiveness is increasing further. By managing the project portfolio, we are able to detect and address bottlenecks in good time. In addition, we are holding discussions with the employee participation bodies and trade unions about NS’s long-term strategy and the changes this necessitates based on the change agenda. The agility of NS and the ‘employee of the future’ are explicit themes in these meetings. Following a series of trials, in 2019 a number of important set-up changes were implemented in the operations; their implementation is still demanding our attention. Action plans to promote a safety culture and integrity have been drawn up and are being implemented, with quarterly progress monitoring. As part of the strategy process, an overall NS-wide action plan has been formulated that focuses on an integrated approach to creating support for and anchoring change. Despite results in several fields, the effort will need to be accelerated. The dilemmas that will have to be resolved to make this possible have been placed on the agenda of the Executive Board.

Risk control trend

Control has improved thanks to enhanced portfolio management and the above-mentioned developments. To maintain NS's high level of service, achieve the operational targets and meet the increasing demand for better financial returns, additional improvements are essential.

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