Project Manager Hilbrand Druiven about the NINA Experience on Nieuwe Waterweg & Botlek Deepening project, Rotterdam.

In the summer, project manager Hilbrand Druiven organised a NINA Experience session for the project team. He also invited the clients Rijkswaterstaat and the Port of Rotterdam Authority. Together, they spoke very openly about the dilemmas they are faced with.

“This increases mutual understanding and trust.”

The NINA Experience was the first NINA training on the project, which started in the spring with a WoW session. Hilbrand: “We then established our collective quality goals, one of which was a NINA impulse. The focus in this was on leadership: what is a good way to start discussion externally? We had a number of near misses and incidents; people were faced with dilemmas. You don't get ready-made answers in a training course, it is too complex for that, but you do get guidelines on how to communicate better.”

Breaking Barriers
“I think NINA’s greatest merit is that it breaks down barriers,” says Bert Onderweegs, project advisor on integrated safety at Rijkswaterstaat about the NINA session. “I’m from the generation in which safety was still seen as ‘difficult’. With NINA, I see a considerable shift in safety philosophy. People ask ‘why?’ and ‘how?’. There is discussion and space to exchange ideas from top to bottom. That’s important for safety, because when things go wrong it almost always comes down to communication.”

According to Hilbrand and Bert, NINA is primarily an instrument for people to enter into discussion. Hilbrand: “In a session like this, the atmosphere makes it easy to be open. And that is what happens: the bottom of the iceberg is revealed. For instance, some colleagues felt that they always got the short end of the stick with the deployment of equipment, which led them to draw their own conclusion that our project was considered less important. When you share these kinds of things with each other openly and fairly, mutual trust and understanding increases. Without this session, we wouldn’t have known this was an issue. Now we could do something about it: by talking, this feeling changed to ‘look at how flexible we are: we are managing well in spite of this.’ People came in with a negative feeling and left with pride. I like that.”

In this way, NINA makes an important contribution to teambuilding, says Bert. “With this approach, there is no ‘us-and-them’: office versus the ships. Here, the team literally said that the ships are part of the project. I often see that differently.” He says this attitude benefits the work. “Another nice thing about this session was that at the end, the participants didn’t part ways with ‘you do this and you do that’, but ‘this is how we’ll improve it’.”

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