The NICE Foundation
A functioning and sustainable network is a community of people and organisations who collaborate based on their free will, primarily for their own benefit, and with the option of leaving the community at just about any time. Therefore, a network always remains a “fluid” organisation with flexible roles and responsibilities, a strong focus on projects and very low hierarchies.
In order to become sustainable, a network needs plenty of leaders that work together, share responsibility and support each other when necessary. At the same time, a network needs a culture of re-generation: We need to raise new generations of leaders all the time through mentoring and their inclusion in challenging projects. In short, networks need to be inclusive in their management structure. The leadership needs to be responsive to the needs and perspectives of the network members for this reason. It needs to involve them in the decision-making – at least in the most important decisions.
NICE is organised through a foundation by Dutch law, which was founded in 2017 as the “Stichting Network for Innovation in Career Guidance and Counselling in Europe”. In the past, NICE was organised through the contractual frameworks of two EU projects (“NICE 1” and “NICE 2”), where different management structures were tested and our organisational principles were developed.
1. Assembly of Founders
As a network, we develop our most important products, our common points of reference, through a process of collaborative consensus-building. In the past, each member of the projects NICE 1 (2009-2012) and NICE 2 (2012-2015) has had a voice in these processes. As of 2017, it is the founders of the NICE Foundation who jointly determine the future of the network through the Assembly of Founders. At Assembly meetings, founders make the most important decisions for the network, elect the Board members, and agree on important projects for the future.
2. Board of Directors
The Board of Directors of the NICE Foundation involves two types of directors: Network Coordinators and Steering Committee members. The Network Coordinators coordinate the alignment of different network activities. The Steering Committee members organise single activities. Together, all Directors make strategic decisions for the ongoing management of the network.
This setup marks a continuation of the network structure from the years 2009-2015, when NICE was organised through EU-projects. From 2015-2017, NICE was organised through the so-called NICE Sustainability Team, which acted as the foundation’s Preliminary Board of Directors.
3. Elections & Ethics Committee
The Elections & Ethics Committee (EEC) organises all elections, mediates network conflicts, and evaluates ethical questions when they arise. The EEC marks a continuation of the former Quality Management Group, which was formed from 2012-2015. Its members worked together closely with the different project teams of NICE to support them in managing the quality of their teamwork and producing high-quality results. Additionally, they watched the work of the Steering Committee and the Network Coordinators closely and provide them with regular feedback – also giving a united voice to the other members of the network. Finally, the Quality Management Group developed quality guidelines and tools for the work in the network, and conducted regular surveys on the network’s development from 2013-2015.
4. Self-Managed Teams
Very importantly, we want leadership and networking capacities to grow in NICE by having all projects coordinated through self-managed teams. These teams manage their own work, autonomously organise workshops at the annual conferences and plan their activities in alignment with the network coordinators. To support their development and overall coordination, each team has an official speaker, who keeps things going and represents the teams towards the rest of the network.
We are currently beginning to set up the first self-managed teams. The official kick-off of several teams is scheduled for the Kraków Conference in 2018.