The Ocean Cleanup: Becoming More Lean and Agile

The Ocean Cleanup

The Ocean Cleanup: Becoming More Lean and Agile

Helping the organization to recognize risks earlier and achieve its ambitious goals more effectively

The Challenge

Agility and flexibility are important to The Ocean Cleanup. It’s these characteristics that have allowed the company to quickly respond to new opportunities and deal smartly with sudden problems and challenges. That’s also why agile working was introduced in the organization when it made the transition from start-up to scale-up. However, working agile proved difficult for it since the end product was used thousands of kilometers from the mainland. After the very rapid growth of the organization, The Ocean Group enlisted the help of Eraneos to see how much bureaucracy and lack of overview had affected its operations and what could be done for it to become even more agile.

“It is important that we always dare to challenge ourselves (and each other), but also that we have a mechanism to feed what we learn back to our teams.”

Henk van Dalen, Director, Ocean at The Ocean Cleanup 

The approach

We were asked to take an objective look at the organization and how a more agile way of working could be implemented. The idea was to make it possible to respond better to sudden problems, whereby the risks become transparent and manageable, all without losing focus on the long-term goal.

The next step was to interview employees from the organization’s three operational departments: ocean, rivers, and valorization. Based on these interviews, we mapped out the current situation and working methods. During the interviews, the participants had already developed new insights and agreements about the working method, which stimulated the dynamics between the people within the various departments.

The Ocean Cleanup is a non-profit organization developing and scaling technologies to rid the oceans of plastic. Founded in 2013, the organization has two goals: to clean up and recycle millions of kilograms of plastic from the oceans, and to prevent new plastic from entering those oceans via rivers. It does this by developing systems that clean up large amounts of plastic from oceans and rivers. This plastic is recycled and used to make new products that can be sold for additional income. The company’s ambitious and important work requires smart minds, the development and deployment of innovative technologies, and a lot of perseverance.

The result

Based on the input from the interviews, Eraneos made a number of recommendations for improving the working method at The Ocean Cleanup, including how to improve the connection between long- and short-term planning cycles, analyzing processes (based on value stream mapping) and ensuring so-called “quality at the source”.

With our help, The Ocean Cleanup mapped out the potential risks of their ocean products, which has helped the organization to more quickly identify processes that should be prioritized as well as any potential risks. This has reduced the chance of delays or unexpected problems.

Let’s create sustainable change together.