It might seem odd – but a few years studying 13th Century warfare and the French Revolution was, it turns out, the ideal launch pad for a career building long-term growth scenarios and advising on innovation. The work I do sits in categories as diverse as ice cream or pharmaceuticals, air travel or craft beer. My clients don’t need to know about the long bow or Robespierre. But it turns out the same natural curiosity, skills and rigour you’d use to build a picture of the mindset and behaviour of someone from, say 300 years ago, work just as well to scope the expectation shifts and frustrations that await us in the coming 20.
I've worked at the intersection of insight and innovation since the late 1990s. I founded Happen Amsterdam in 2012 (www.happen.com) and we’ve grown at pace. We work with multi-disciplinary teams across the world to catalyse innovation efforts and processes and drive up success rates across all horizons. Since the cultural, technological and commercial context we operate in has never been more dynamic - and nor has there ever been so much at stake – the need to innovate successfully and at scale is a rallying cry across organisations of all kinds.
The challenge of building cultures of resilience and adaptability is a growing area of interest. Although I’ve been based in the Netherlands for 15 years now, I still have daily cause to reflect on how the national traits of frank directness and a spirit of pragmatism are among the most powerful enablers of change that there are.
I've always loved learning and the promise of transformation that it holds. Entrepreneurship has proven to be a remarkable gift – the possibility to continually innovate yourself and your skills. Yet the chance to step back, reflect and invest more deeply over the coming months is a genuinely exciting prospect.