GIJSBERT VAN DER KLIS : “Practice what you preach, be a leader and not a manager”


A program manager manages multiple projects, and sometimes multiple programs. To understand this key role, meeting with Gijsbert van der Klis, program manager at Delta Lloyd.



What is a Program Manager ?

A Program Manager is someone who manages big projects or programs. If you look in a team’s structure, the program manager is responsible for the program, reports to the steercommittee and has many stakeholders on Director & Boardlevel to manage. In the program there are multiple Projectleads which steer up to 20 person for different tasks (e.g. HR, Organisational Design, IT implementation). In my opinion, a program manager can be described as a Manager Operations for a change without being hierarchical in charge but only functional.


I saw that one of your specialties was Lean Six Sigma. What is the added value of this process ? Among other management methods, is it a reference for you ?

Lean Six Sigma is a powerful tool and a way of working that structures continuous improvement or bottleneck solutions so that an organization’s costs decrease and the quality improves. It is a combination of two powerful process improvement methods : Lean and Six Sigma. Lean is popular for its methodical approach to streamlining both manufacturing and service processes by eliminating waste while continuing to deliver value to customers. Six Sigma is simply a method of reducing variation (mistakes) and efficiently solving a problem. Using Six Sigma reduces the amount of defective products manufactured or services provided, resulting in increased revenue and greater customer satisfaction. In my opinion it is one of the more usefull tools and way of working to eliminate waste and facilitate change in an organization. Furthermore it facilitates the mindset for continuous improvement.


What is meant by “performance” ?

Performance includes activities which ensure that goals are consistently being met in the most effective and efficient manner. The accomplishment of a given task measured against preset known standards of accuracy, completeness, cost, and speed. I would change this into against new challenging standards in order to improve the performance and be able to adapt to the changing environment


In terms of work organisation, how does Europe compare with Netherlands ?

The Dutch are of course pretty straight forward and outspoken in their communication. Directness is common. Differences in informality. The way we look at hierarchical structures is different than for example the Belgiums. Hard work is good and I see a change towards a more individualistic way of working and living : more self-employed professional or freelancers . This trend is also seen in the organisational structure. We tend to go to more flat organisations with a less hierarchial structure. Also Agile structures with ING as an example shows the change in organisation type. A big storyline with small short sprints to improve the organisation. The point of view on this is smooth adaption on the ever changing ‘Outside Environment’.


What would you recommend for a better work organization ?

My recommendation would be an integrated style organisation where Lean 6 Sigma thrives the operation and the Agile way of working in the IT-organisation work complementary to each other. Responsibility must be put as low as possible within the organisation and for the executives; practice what you preach. Be a leader, not a manager.



Clémence d’Halluin