Several events in the previous week illustrate the transition time we are in. I met doom prophets and prosperity gospel preachers. It all came together in the Max Havelaar lecture at Rotterdam School of Management on Wednesday where two ladies (a young Cameroonian staff member of the Netherlands Africa Business Council and a senior staff member of the Trade Union FNV) a kind of represented the two eras we are in.
The world of associations, unions and collectivism organized along trade industries versus a movement oriented globally networked woman exerting her individual influence. One using the current institutional arrangements like the ILO international labor standards. The other co-creating innovative solutions to world problems. We are currently experiencing a heavy presence of both worlds, which probably means we are in the middle of this transition.
The prosperity gospel I heard at Nyenrode University earlier that week pointed to a future with a world of plenty, where there are no limits to human potential and death being conquered by 2045. It concerned a lecture about exponential organizations at the launch of a new course named ‘Business Innovation and Service Delivery’. Nyenrode had invited two entrepreneurs that were drawing the picture of a world mastered by computers, codes and algorithms. Yuri van Geest showed us a world where 3D printing takes on proportions where we print our meals and where both cancer and Alzheimer have been sorted. China already is in the lead in science and technology while the Gulf and Russia are running out of fossil fuels to sustain their economies long-term. He introduced a new type of organization with a so called Massive Transformation Purpose. Using two acronyms IDEAS and SCALE he pointed to the soft skills that will make the difference in integrating new technologies with our current world.
Finally in the past week also a report was published about a successive array of State Ministers of Infrastructure who failed to manage a public-private partnership arrangement that should have provided the Netherlands with a fast-track connection to Brussels. Public-Private Partnerships have gradually become a quite normal animal in the government circles. However, limited consideration is given to role confusion and potential hick-ups due to the sheer size of contracts. It will be a challenge to provide the type of leadership that will bring solutions to this world where the trust in institutional arrangements is rapidly shrinking and people make their own arrangements to take care of their own health, safety and security and social entrepreneurs venture out to start movements from bottom-up to protect public goods and take care of the disadvantaged.
Social entrepreneurs and the King
Many good initiatives have started linked to the arrival of refugees, following the reports and listening to their stories. Not everyone is on the same page though. Angry citizens potentially see their jobs being taken and fear a shortage in the housing market, while governments are seeking solutions to the refugee crises that has been in the world for ages but finally also arrived at European shores. This disparity even led to violent incidents causing our King to address the nation (while being on a State visit to China) calling for dialogue, reminding Dutch citizens of the ‘poldermodel’ for which the Netherlands was once most famous. While promoting Dutch business interests he did not refrain from sharing his concerns about human rights violations to his hosts. I really like our King, connecting business and human rights and the local with the global, modeling today's Changing Leaders behavior. The Netherlands would be wise to keep this 400 year old institution for a while as some more disruption is to be expected both in the physical as well as digital infrastructure. This will require modern leadership skills, from both governments and business leaders.
My name is Reinier van Hoffen.
Click here for a summary.
Also find the text of a lecture Dr. Achterhuis held at the 2012 Bilderberg conference.