Diversity matters! Talent Management for the future

A while ago we had the honor to interview Siebren Houtman from Meurs HRM, a bureau that delivers tools for assessment, talent management and employability, that turned the traditional assessments upside down and a company that works without executives, teams and job profiles. We learned about how identity can be constructed through diversity, the founder’s dilemma and the bullshit of KPI’s


Siebren is born in Friesland, a province in the Nord of the Netherlands. He believes his Friesian background plays a big role in why he is drawn to self-organization. The mentality in Friesland is “doe maar normaal”, just act normal. We are all just humans. So why should some people have so much more power and earn so much more than others? We will come back to this question later in the interview.

Even though he sees institutional learning as a big disadvantage he went to the university of Groningen and studied psychology. At the university he came in contact with the theories of Taylor that were popular in all the management books, but didn’t represent real life for Siebren. Disappointed by the lack of criticism and real life resemblance of the theories he started dreaming of starting his own business.

Instead of doing what organizations want people to do, people should do what they want to do. He represents a strong believe in the will of people to contribute. From this starting point organizations should adjust and grow. This is the basis for the “new assessment” of Meurs HRM.


Lets try to do and offer things that help people act from who they really are themselves, instead of acting like they supposed to do.

Meurs helps people with what they want to do and what they are good in. Instead making tools for organizations that help them find the right persons, they wanted to start with the person. Now for already 7 years they turned the testing around.


Not only in their tests does Meurs HRM start with the people, but also in their own company people come first. Siebren explains us that they believe in the strength of diversity and the personal identity that comes forth from it. Identity in a heterogeneous group can be established from your uniqueness within a group. Instead of focusing on the commonalities within the group or pressuring the individuals to become a homogeneous group.

The identity of the company should be a result of the diverse identities, instead of forcing people to comply to the identity of the company.

In the end I believe the ultimate form of organization is to be always in a kind of flux and even your goals of strategy should be the result of a group process.

At this moment the goals are still set by Siebren and his partner Mathijs, but the next step would be to let the people set the goals together. This is going to be an interesting step. To not only let the people decide how they want to work, but also to let them set the goals. We will definitely follow Meurs HRM when they go through this process.


At Meurs they don’t have a special name for the way the organize. But we get reminded like in other interviews: “self-organization doesn’t mean there is no organization.” Meurs HRM has a handbook that describes how they work together. They use this to show other new people if this would be a company they like to work at, but also to inform other companies how Meurs HRM works. If you are interested in reading their Dutch Handbook you can ask them to sent it to you.


The system they are implementing at Meurs to set employees their salaries is a really creative one. Everybody at Meurs identifies 25 tasks areas where they spent time on together, areas as programming, selling ect. After this these areas are being benchmarked with the salaries of other companies. They use benchmarks of others companies to create a reasonable salary.

In the beginning of each year you tell how much percentage of your time you want to spent on every task, out of this calculation you will get a base income. Next to this everyone in the company gets 100 credits to divide over their colleagues. You can divide these as you like and your reasoning can be pretty subjective. But according to Siebren this is a good thing: “it could be because a person sold a lot, but is could also be because he is a nice guy and makes you feel good”. So the salary at Meurs is going to exists of the benchmarking of your chosen tasks and the valuation of your presence at work by your colleagues.

Read how to run a company with success defined as a feeling and why KPI’s are bullshit next week in part 2!