5 April 2017
April 5th, 2017, was defined by one crucial question: what will our society look like in the future? Humanity is at the dawn of a world in which new (digital) technologies play an ever more central role and we are unable to provide employment to all; a societal revolution appears to be eminent. Such was the central theme of prof dr. Bob de Wit’s inaugural lecture, officially initiating him as a full professor of Nyenrode Business Universiteit.
Before Bob de Wit held his inaugural lecture, Strategy Works and Nyenrode organized a dialogue session between current leaders and those of the future. Management of prominent Dutch firms gathered to represent the ‘Leaders of 2017’ to engage in a dialogue session with the ‘Leaders of 2033’, top students from seven different Dutch universities. The discussion was led under the professional guidance of Charles Groenhuijsen, who extracted and highlighted the most interesting points of view among the participants.
Everyone seemed to agree that the digital wave ensures that ‘this time is different’ and that strong leadership is required to deal with the ongoing and upcoming challenges. The discussion led from emphasizing citizenship, to ethics and sense of purpose, all of which are likely to play a more crucial role in the future. Participants differed when it came to having their views on the future be guided mostly by optimism or by pessimism, but we at least consider this first dialogue session a fruitful attempt and an encouraging sign of the things to come.
The dialogue session was followed by Prof dr. Bob de Wit’s inaugural lecture, aptly titled ‘Aan de vooravond van een maatschappelijke revolutie…’ (At the dawn of a societal revolution). Starting off with an historical perspective, Bob de Wit led the audience through the ways in which we have organized our society. How will our society deal with the digital wave? And what about the wave of artificial intelligence? With eloquence and precision, Bob de Wit highlighted the things to come and in what ways society can progress, leading Prof. Dr. Miša Džoljić, Rector Magnificus of Nyenrode Business Universiteit and Chairman of the University Board, to state that Bob de Wit’s views on the future are not only “very plausible, they are also convincing”.
Bob de Wit argued in his inaugural lecture that two ingredients are key to bring about change: a necessity and an appealing perspective. Though the need to bring about change and avert an undesirable future is indisputable, there are few with a convincing and desirable perspective. April 5th marked an important day in helping shape one and Strategy Works is committed to play a crucial role in following through, bringing strategic leadership where it is needed.