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Youth Desk, City of Rotterdam

The service of The Youth Desk was under pressure with big challenges and high dissatisfaction amongst our youngsters, staff, internal and external partners. The �system world� was leading instead of supporting. There was a need for change and adaption. To meet this need, a vision emerged to look at things from the outside to the inside. It transformed from �let me show you how we do it� to �show me how to do it�. But, this change could only be made if we could involve youngsters and youth professionals to talk about the processes of the organization. Giving an impression of your service. Visualizing the system and processes and making them understandable in a different way. Making the conversation with young people easier. Also the youth coach and youngster connect faster, the dialogue starts sooner. The �broadcast� time shortens and the youngsters feel more often invited to share their stories more proactively. One of the benefits of the placemat is that it lightens up the conversation.
Further development Youth Desk started with hearing the youngsters, external partners and the colleagues from the Youth Desk. The youngsters and youth coaches (professionals) are the target group. The Chat-plates (placemats) started in 2015 as a result of so called �Consultation rounds� and �Mirror Sessions� of the Youth Desk Rotterdam. This was based on the book named �De Verdraaide Organisatie� (The Twisted Organization), which talks about working with good intentions. We started with �Consultation rounds� with external partners, such as youth workers, city officials and youngsters, to discuss the desired level of service. The same was done in the �Mirror Sessions� with employees/colleagues of the organization. Question for the both sessions: when supporting youngsters is our main goal, tell us how to provide them the best service. The outcome of some of the sessions were gathered together. Instead of making a whole bookwork, which is mostly not understandable for most of the youngsters and colleagues, an illustrator was hired to make placemats. After that, the illustrator made an impression of each session of the conversations and meetings. This was discussed in the groups again and the feedback was very positive; these placemats made conversations visual and understandable for partners, staff, but most importantly, for all our youngsters. These placemats can even show the emotions of youngsters and professionals in a conversation. For youngsters, they have recognition and feel heard. These placemats are now used to visualize our processes and our meeting with youngsters and is embraced by the organization, youngsters and professionals. They give a view of how the system is organized and how the service is arranged. For people not willingly to read long memos or bookwork this is a perfect solution to show what you mean and how you do it. We use these placemats for the intake process, WMO trajectory, absenteeism process and application for welfare payments.
Organize consultation meetings, Hire an expert in making placemats, Select partners and youngsters from your organization network, Inform each participant about the purpose of the meeting, Provide a moderator who is well acquainted with the goal, Provide an open atmosphere, Introduce the draftsman if the drawing of the meeting is ready, Show the placemat and discuss it with the group, Let the collection placemat tell the story of the desired changes.
The placemats surprised the participants and the management because it showed a glance of what the experience and feedback is from the group of participants. We know this by the enthusiastic reactions and by copying our approach many times by others.
Illustrations (placemats), Process, Website (intranet), Meetings
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