‘White bears’ could make companies future-proof

Richard Hooijdonk is living the future. He has an RFID chip in his hand that opens the door to his house and starts his car. The technology is not quite there yet, but in half a year, he will also have a chip to pay with. As a futurist, he is following developments closely, and he prefers entering the future before everyone else. He calls on companies to change and to prepare for the future, but how to do that?

In contrast to some trendwatchers, futurists and visionaries, Hooijdonk already gave some practical tips during the EU Fresh Info Forum. “Everything that repeats and is predictable can be automatised,” he said. That includes actions such as driving a car, housekeeping, harvesting in greenhouses, the list is endless. Besides, the future is that technology will be built into the human body, so that your family doctor rings you when you are ill, rather than the other way around.

Richard van Hooijdonk.

The freedom to be brilliant
The life expectancy of a company was 70 years in 1980. However, that life expectancy has decreased sharply since then, and is now 12 years. That means that companies have to change now, or they will be gone in 12 years. “You have to invest in scenarios for the future of the company,” Hooijdonk continues. The characteristics needed for that are curiosity, imagination, being critical and being able to develop ideas. That is why Hooijdonk says each company should have two CEOs, an older one and a younger one of about 25 years old. The older CEO knows the company, the younger one knows the future, according to him.

The younger generation should be “given the freedom to be brilliant.” Talent should be rewarded, experimenting is necessary, that is the only way to develop feasible concepts which will survive the coming years. “I had a quick look, and there are more than 500 startups in horticulture.”

Worldwide, companies see their business model is in danger of becoming out of date. They invest in new developments by creating a kind of parasite, a group of innovative and creative people who are connected to the company but operate independently of it. They develop new concepts that do not break the old structure. A new business plan is developed parallel to that, which can guarantee the continued existence of the company in the end, for the biggest challenge is that too few people are progressive. Hooijdonk divided humanity into groups of bears. Black bears, about 55 per cent within a company, do not want change. Brown bears (60 per cent of employees) have to be motivated to join the changes. White bears are the innovators.

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