Networking is usually linked with the way we work and collaborate with colleagues, and the fact is that’s where knowledge lives and trust is created. Places we inhibit are more than just grounds and fortifications. They are built by and for people, and where’s people, there are networks. This is a story of one municipality using Network Leadership to improve everyday lives.

Våler is a Norwegian municipality with a population of 5600. As they experienced growth, they turned to JOIN21 for help in optimizing knowledge flow to improve services for citizens. Our Network analysis helped them understand their internal and external networks and implement actions that integrated everyone in the organization. By the end of our Network Leadership process, they:

built one of Norway’s most efficient municipalities

utilized the knowledge of employees to make major impacts in the environment

learn how to cut costs and save time

increased satisfaction of citizens, volunteers, businesses and education sector

JOIN21 helped us connect our values to new ways of work. That is usually incredibly difficult and takes a long time to achieve. With them, we did it fast and easy. - Petter Haugen, Rådmann in Våler Municipality



As Våler’s population grew, so did the municipality’s staff and the need to handle a growing number of tasks in a cost-efficient and timely manner. Våler asked JOIN21 for help to develop digital infrastructure and build a reputation of innovative, competent and highly efficient municipality. One of the key challenges was establishing these new ways of working while remaining true to the municipality’s core values.


JOIN21 gathered data points from a digital employee survey, several workshops and round-tables, and visualized the findings in a map. Key insights:


  • First and most eye-opening discovery was for the employees to see the municipality as a network, rather than a hierarchy.
  • Siloes. Certain departments and schools were almost completely isolated and not utilizing the organization’s expertise.



  • Weak decision network. Before making a decision, all employees went to just one or two people, who were often in the same department, which proved the lack of cross functional inputs.
  • Poor innovation flow. Ideas had few places to go. People of influence acted more like bottlenecks than promoters of new ideas.
  • Lack of automation was another issue, as there were too much draining, repetitive tasks that could be automated to save money and time.


The network map was presented in workshop gathering feedback from administrators, employees, politicians and citizens.



Based on the JOIN21 inputs and advices, the municipality took giant steps forward:

  • “Way of Work” program was put in action to integrate silos and build cooperation across departments and the regular chains of command.
  • Collaboration platform was implemented to improve knowledge flow. We created communities of experts and managers that shared know-how on how to solve problems and create value.
  • Automation saved both time and money by eliminating repetitive tasks.
  • Monitoring of development over time provided new insights and opportunities to grow.

We are always for including employees in the process, rather than just presenting them the results. That is why we invited all of them, including part-timers, to learn their own place in the network and reflect on insights relevant to them.



Increased engagement and sharing between all employees, including numerous part-time employees.


Reduced tech fatigue, time and costs related to unnecessary manual processes.


Management got new insights on how to improve decision-making, while employees played vital role in that process by sharing their know-how.


Schools increased expertise and resources, as well as motivation of teachers and students.

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