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Betina: ‘Gardening is like organizing horizontally’

Role: Illustrator.
Working at B&S since: Summer 2017.
What is your favorite horizontal vegetable garden vegetable? ‘Jerusalem artichokes! You can let it do its thing. The tubers are delicious and there are also towering sunflowers on the way. It is proliferating so you have to keep an eye on it, but otherwise it is a very independent plant.’

What makes you happy in your work at Bord&Stift?

‘Explaining complex matters clearly, that is the core of our company. We want to make the world a little bit easier to understand. We do this on behalf of companies and organizations, but also increasingly from within ourselves. For example, after government press conferences, we visualized the latest corona measures. But we also increasingly communicate about the way we organize ourselves at Bord&Stift: horizontally. We believe that it would do the world good if we’d let go more of hierarchical constructions.’

Can you give me an example?

‘Colleague Charlotte, founder of Bord&Stift, and I made an infographic in which we explain what it takes to make a company more horizontal. On the one hand you have the owner or boss, who feels like they have all the responsibility and have to take care of the employees. On the other hand you have the employees who just have to figure out what can, is allowed to and should be done within the company. In a way it’s kind of a parent/child relationship. How can you make that relationship more equal? As owner you have to let go and give confidence to your coworkers. They will then increasingly experience more ‘agency’; the freedom and responsibility to shape their work themselves.. It is so nice to dissect such a process and make a clear drawing about it.’

How do you do that yourself, design that agency?

‘In recent months we had an accelerator program here at Bord&Stift. This means that we develop new products and run pilots. Colleague Violet devised a way tocollaborate structurally with educational institutions. I am now working on that further together with her. It feels like we run our own shop within Bord&Stift; we develop the product, approach potential cooperation partners, determine the price and possible discount ourselves. Developing such initiatives is very much welcomed within Bord&Stift.’

Why do you think horizontal organizing is so important?

‘It ensures that I can really get my bearings in my work. But I also think it is the solution to many problems, within governments, education, climate issues. Nowadays, one person or a small group often has to keep an overview and make decisions, while there is so much strength, knowledge and expertise in the collective. If you give them the confidence and the opportunity to really participate, in equality, then so many beautiful things can arise.’

What else do you do in your life besides drawing and spreading horizontal wisdom?

‘I really enjoy the vegetable garden at my house. Gardening actually resembles organizing horizontally. You are dealing with ecosystems, organisms that influence each other. It requires fertile soil, an open mind, relaxation and playfulness, care and attention. You can’t just put a seed in the ground and do nothing else, you really have to see what it needs to thrive. At Bord&Stift you also need fertile soil, you have to look closely at the dynamics, give ideas care and attention, keep looking and feel why something works or not. It is constantly in motion.’

Also read the interview with Daniel:
‘You really have to understand what it is about’

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