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The Human Side

For Leadership and Entrepreneurship

THE HILL I have come this far on my own legs, missing the bus, missing taxis, climbing always. One foot in front of the other, that is the way I do it. It does not bother me, the way the hill goes on. Grass beside the road, a tree rattling its black leaves. So what? The longer I walk, the farther I am from everything. One foot in front of the other. The hours pass. One foot in front of the other. The years pass. The colors of arrival fade. That is the way I do it.

Mark Strand

From: Darker, Atheneum, New York, 1970



The Human Side of Enterprise An Introduction

Leaders on Leadership Learning Cultural Needs: Eric


Asking Environmental Questions: Carin Delving into Policy: Herman

ten Hage


Growing Sustainably: Peter


Meeting Every Audience: Marloes Envisioning a New Society: Job



Further Reading De Baak: A Profile Learning at de Baak Contact

“The Hill” (Mark Strand) “Some Questions You May Ask” (Mary Oliver) “Zoals” (judith herzberg) “Fisches Nachtgesang” (Christian Morgenstern)

Text: Lisa Friedman Photography: Ivonne Zijp, Jan van Breda, Sanneke Fisser, Elke Roelant Design: (Jeroen Disch) Art Director: Jan van der Veer Project Directors: Petra Baars and Leo Salazar Printed by: Koenders & Van Steijn



an introduction

The Human Side

Leadership. Entrepreneurship. Personal development. At the center of these abstractions is the individual. Strip away the terms and we find the leader, the entrepreneur, people seeking to cultivate abilities, gain lucid insights. This process of “becoming” is a decidedly personal endeavor. Its essence is unquestionably human. And so de Baak is dedicated to the human side of enterprise. Our commitment is to the individual: to helping people become their most effective selves. To partnering people in meeting their potential. To exploring with them—and helping to reveal—the depth and richness of their talents. Layers of Development Indeed, the learning process begins with the autonomous individual who becomes the agent of change within the organization. Those who come to de Baak decide for themselves what they will learn. Once empowered to set their own goals, these individuals become responsible for their own learning. Beyond the individual lies the organization, which stands to benefit from seeing its people empowered. De Baak’s client companies share the goal of personal development, knowing that employing motivated, flexible people results in a stronger, more resilient organization. The outer layer of this system is society. Strong individuals and resilient organizations contribute to forming healthy societies. Individuals, organizations, societies: doing well in all of these contexts hinges on starting with the “I.” Unmasking one's talents. Finding new confidence. Discovering one's capacity to communicate. And knowing one's unique decision-making process. Individuals learn this from mentors and from each other; this is the de Baak way.

Learning from [Dutch] Experience Decades ago, de Baak began as a Dutch organization. And while we have blossomed into an international presence, we remain inspired by particular Dutch values. What are those Dutch values? In this age of globalization, the question is breathtakingly fragile! But we dare to answer it: Dutch society is decidedly progressive. A certain forward thrust exists in the Netherlands. And it is this forward thrust, this fascination with the future, that we embrace. Many companies, for example, choose the Netherlands as a test market, knowing that trends often originate among the Dutch. Academics often study Dutch models for creating consensus. The “polder model,” for example, is key to the harmonies that prevail in Dutch culture. In this magazine you’ll find interviews, conversations with six role models who represent progress in a cross-section of society: government, business, economics, the arts…. These are motivated, accomplished, proactive people who embody de Baak’s values. They are all about asking, learning, delving, growing—meeting challenges and envisioning society. Enjoy the resourcefulness of the people on these pages. Be inspired by the poetry included here as well. And reflect, with de Baak, on the true meaning of progress. Harry Starren CEO, de Baak


Some Questions You Might Ask ls the soul solid, like iron? Or is it tender and breakable, like the wings of a moth in the beak of the owl? Who has it, and who doesn’t? I keep looking around me. The face of the moose is as sad as the face of Jesus. The swan opens her white wings slowly. ln the fall, the black bear carries leaves into the darkness. One question leads to another. Does it have a shape? Like an iceberg? Like the eye of a hummingbird? Does it have one lung, like the snake and the scallop? Why should I have it, and not the anteater who loves her children? Why should I have it, and not the camel? Come to think of it, what about the maple trees? What about the blue iris? What about all the little stones, sitting alone in the moonlight? What about roses, and lemons, and their shining leaves? What about the grass?

Mary Oliver

From: House of Light, Beacon Press, Boston, 1990




As an 11-year-old Dutch boy living with your family in Jakarta, Indonesia, what questions did you have about your life? [Laughs] Well, I was eleven. I had a very sudden change of scenery. I was growing up in Utrecht [the Netherlands]. And suddenly I was transferred to a Southeast Asian country much bigger than the Netherlands, a predominantly Muslim country. Everything was different compared to what I was used to. How did the feeling of struggle balance with the feeling of adventure? Sometimes it felt more like a struggle; sometimes it felt more like adventure. Adventure is struggle, because the essence of adventure is that you don’t know how it will end or where you will go. You’ve lived in the Far East as a child, as a young man, and as an experienced diplomat. How has your knowledge of Asian culture deepened over time? As a child, I was just surprised, flabbergasted, intrigued. As a student, it was my own decision to go there. I was curious. I wanted to learn. And now I’m in a phase where I can use my experiences and what I learned in my daily work, as a tool. So it’s not like as a student, where learning is a goal, is an end in itself. Now I try to use the understanding I have of the surroundings I work in to do a better job than I would otherwise do.

eric verwaal

As the Netherlands’ Consul General in Shanghai, Eric Verwaal is a seasoned cross-cultural diplomat. Here, he talks about his lifelong relationship with the Far East.

leaders on leadership


What helped you to thrive? Which experiences motivated you to return to the Far East — as a student and then as a full-fledged professional? Well, what I like—and it’s not only true for the Far East, of course—I like the fact that it’s people first and then, when you have a trust, a relationship, etcetera, then everything else. Whereas in the Dutch culture, it’s business first and then relationships may develop. So it’s a totally opposite thing. And I liked the hospitality. I liked the important role food plays in the culture. I liked the grace and beauty that can be a part of life, especially in Southeast Asia and, to a certain extent, in Northern Asia. Also, the history of that part of the world is very rich and interesting. The religions—Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Taoism…. What questions about the Eastern and Western worlds remain for you now? I don’t believe in the existence of an Eastern and a Western world…If you look at Europe, the Italians are much closer to the Chinese than to the Dutch. Does that make the Italians Eastern? Western? I don’t know!


leaders on leadership


carin ten hage

Carin ten Hage directs Planet Me, a corporate responsibility program for TNT, the express and mail multinational. Her challenge? To help balance the needs of the business with those of the global environment.

Your company’s environmental position is: “TNT contributes to the problem of climate change, therefore we must be part of the solution.” Tell us more. We’re contributing to the problem because we emit lots of CO2 with our airplanes, buildings and vehicles. We must be connected to society because we‘re an integral part of our customers’ supply chains. We see that our business environment is making more and more demands. For example, customers increasingly want to know the exact emissions related to the service we perform for them—and what measures we’re taking to reduce those emissions. Also, governments are asking us similar questions. So we’re really seeing that shift in mindset with many of our stakeholders. Because we feel that this is such an integral part of our business, we need to be the best at managing our CO2 impact. What measures has TNT taken to lower its carbon emissions? We’ve opted for a three-pronged approach. First, we’ll measure our carbon footprint, collecting the data on each business unit’s vehicles, buildings, and our airplanes, to research the baseline. Exploring emissions-reduction potential is next. How can we make our operations more efficient? What innovative solutions can we implement to reach that? Optimal routing of our trucks can often lead to fewer kilometers driven without service-level concessions. We’re looking into alternative technologies like electric and hybrid vehicles. And there’s perhaps a less obvious solution: we’re building a new, green office, the first in a series of zero-emissions buildings.


The third element is about engaging our people. We have more than 150,000 employees worldwide; if they “get it,” they can be a very strong force. You mentioned the new, green building. Which features stand out? From the start, the thinking was: How can we build an office that is carbon positive? We’re using an atrium and a geothermal exchange system for the building’s cooling and heating. The remaining green power needed will come from a bio-fuel generator. We’ll also be using the building more flexibly, using office space more efficiently. Trying to change culture is sometimes described as trying to redirect a super-tanker. How has your company handled this? I think that changing culture is like changing the course of a supertanker. But if you’re able to move the direction of this tanker by just one centimeter, the impact will be huge.



leaders on leadership

Delving Herman Wijffels is recognized as a force in economics, in government, and in the realm of social responsibility. The World Bank is among the institutions in which he has acted as a catalyst.

herman wijffels

You’ve famously helped build a coalition between political parties in the Netherlands. How did you do it? I took the party leaders out somewhere in the countryside, isolating these people from their constituencies. And I did not start talking about the differences we would have to overcome but asking them about what their deeper motivation was for being in politics—and what they wanted to achieve for the country. So I, in fact, was approaching them from a deeper layer of their belief systems and motivations. By talking not about differences but about aspirations and about goals, there was quite a bit of common ground. You were an early champion of sustainability; how did you know it would become an urgent issue? Just looking at the facts. We are something like 20 to 25 percent over what is sustainably possible; that translates into depletion of resources. You’ve said, “We’re moving toward a world in which all energy is sustainable and all products are recyclable.” Did being the son of a farmer help cultivate this understanding? Didn’t your father grow crops like sugar beets and potatoes? Yes, partly. I grew up in an environment in which it was clear that in order to have productive farming practices fifty years from now, you better make sure that you maintain the productive capacity of that farm, of that soil.

Can you describe some of the resistance you’ve met in fostering sustainability? There are a number of resistances. You know, in Dutch, the translation of “sustainability” is duurzaam. The first four letters of that word mean “expensive.” Many people still think that being in harmony with the environment means that you have to incur costs and expenses; that’s where one of the resistances comes from. You’ve said, “I am continually working on how the future can be different, better.” This implies hope. Where does that hope come from? That hope comes from the main source, what I used to call the “creative force” that created all this. I look upon people—and also upon myself—as a co-creative element in that creative process. My hypothesis is that, most likely, this evolutionary process is not meant to destroy what has been ongoing for quite a while. I think it is meant to be further developed.


leaders on leadership

Growing Triodos Bank CEO Peter Blom is known as a pioneer of sustainable banking. He joined Triodos—then a foundation—in 1980. Under Blom’s leadership, Triodos won the Financial Times Sustainable Bank of the Year Award for 2009.

peter blom

What is responsible, sustainable financial growth? I think we have been dealing with growth in an increasingly limited way. It’s almost always brought back to quantitative growth: higher turnover, higher profits. The whole notion of different sorts of growth has disappeared over the last twenty, thirty years. It’s a few indicators that seem to matter, that decide whether you’re successful or not, and that has impoverished the whole notion of growth. That’s contrary to what is actually needed in society. We need to move from a concept of material growth to one of non-material growth. We have to start to enjoy culture more, enjoy education more, enjoy reflection. That sort of growth is unlimited; it should replace growth in material terms. How did you know—in 1980, if not sooner—that sustainable economics would become an urgent issue? I’m not sure if I know; there are facts and figures but it’s partly also a matter of intuition. You can sense what’s happening, and it has everything to do with being mindful. It has also to do with taking more seriously the things that are not being said. Taking seriously the things that are small, not always big. Taking care of the things that cannot be put into numbers. It’s your inner life that has to be strengthened.


How important to being a leader is having a defined vision? Leadership is not so much about big visions. The real challenge is to make the vision into a business model and make actual choices: What do you do? And what do you do after that? And how do you relate your business choices to what is needed in society? So the whole idea of cutting a big problem into small pieces—the old, reductionist way of looking at things—doesn’t work anymore. What we have to do now is look at problems in the context of the whole. Always work from the whole toward a solution. For example, you cannot solve the energy question by viewing it only as a production problem; it’s also a consumption question. And it’s not only about consumption, but about the distribution of energy throughout the world, and so on. So the simple notion that we have to move from fossil fuels to non-fossil fuels is not enough anymore. You always have to keep these other pieces of the problem in the back of your mind. And I think that is what new leadership is about: doing something that emerges from being more aware of the context, the bigger picture.



leaders on leadership

Meeting Marloes Krijnen is the founding director of Foam_Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam. Foam’s reason for being? To bring high-quality photography to as many people and contexts as possible—often in surprising ways.

You’ve been called “an entrepreneur in the cultural world.” How you feel about that? I took it as a compliment. Whereas many Dutch cultural organizations are heavily supported by the government, 75% of our funding we have to gain ourselves. You have to be kind of an entrepreneur, and this is something that we don’t mind at all.

Has your comfort in reconciling the commercial and the creative helped your cause? Yes, I think so…I like to cooperate; the Dutch word is samenwerken [to work together, to join forces]. I’m very open to cooperate with organizations, whether it be other cultural organizations or private enterprises or sponsors. I think you always gain from these kinds of new combinations. What is your cultural mission? From the beginning we had one word of great importance to us: “open.” And that we try to do that by organizing exhibitions, by publishing our magazine. We started an in-house gallery so people can buy photography here

because we had sensed that for new collectors, to go to a gallery is sometimes not easy. [We also strive] to be an organization that’s visible worldwide. Foam Magazine is the most international “exhibition space” we have: it will be seen from Australia to Peru, New York, and Paris, and all the little villages in between. For a decade you were World Press Photo’s director; later, you headed your own agency. Have you always thought of yourself as a leader? No: I think about myself as someone who’s able to make people enthusiastic about projects that I have in mind.

Marloes krijnen

Do you experience conflict between the creative and commercial sides of your enterprise? Actually I don’t, the business community wants to support organizations that have the highest possible quality or that match their standards. That has to do with the content and the quality that they themselves have. So they support you as an organization because they like what you do.

A past mentor advised you to “go to your customers.” You and your team have done this—by launching exhibitions internationally, by publishing Foam Magazine. You’ve even transformed a fire engine into a “Foam-mobile” for children! What advice would you give aspiring arts leaders? Be open and honest about what you would like to achieve with people. And quality always comes first.


leaders on leadership

Envisioning Since 2001, Job Cohen has presided over the Dutch capital, Amsterdam, as mayor. He has steered the city through turmoil that has, at times, been intense. Time Magazine named Cohen a “European Hero” for his leadership.

You’ve said, “In the end, the challenge for our societies is not finding ways to stop immigration to our parts of the world, but how to have a society in which all these different people…live peacefully together.” Do you see yourself as a peacemaker? A hero? It’s not so interesting to put a lot of emphasis on the question of whether people should be here or should not be here. They are here, and we have to do it together. You can speak about “we” and “them”—but you can also speak about the reality that we have to live together; together, we make this society. And that means: if you live here, then you’d better live here peacefully. I act with those facts in mind; in that view I am a peacemaker.

job cohen 20

Do you think delicacy is relevant to being a leader? Can you give us an example? One of the phrases I have liked since I studied law is the Roman phrase, audi et alteram partem—also listen to the other party (before you make a decision). When you tell me the background of a decision I have to make, I’ll say, “Yes, you are right.” Then I ask someone else to tell me the other side of the story, then I say, “Well, that is also right!” So you have to balance the arguments before you come to a decision. It’s necessary to listen to all parties involved, and that means you have to be delicate before taking decisions. So, yes, delicacy is relevant.

Will problems of coexistence persist in societies— even as the demographics of cities change? I think that in every big city there are problems of coexistence—more so when you have a lot of different cultures. And nowadays we have 177 different nationalities in Amsterdam. There are different cultures, and different cultures mean that, speaking with each other, the listener may hear something different from what the speaker wants to express. This is a new phenomenon to a lot of people. When you’re used to living in a part of a city with a lot of your original compatriots, and then all of a sudden you are surrounded by people from other countries, of course that is likely to be difficult. It means that you have to find a new way of living. So, yes, I think that those questions of coexistence will stay with us—and will even increase in this age of globalization.


further reading

Delve Further reading from de Baak associates at:

Gilles Amado - Professor at the HEC School of Management on transitional change and leadership Yeşim Candan - Program Director at de Baak on the power of diversity Caroline van Frankenhuyzen - Senior Program Director at de Baak on leaders and meaning Matthijs Hubbers - participant in “The New Manager” on South Africa Karin Jironet - Senior Program Director at de Baak on intuition and unlearning Annemarie de Jong - Director Baak Change on wishful thinking in organizations Caroline van der Linden - Senior Program Director at de Baak on beauty and organizations Navid Otaredian - Senior Program Director at de Baak interviews Shahram Bahraini about diversity Bas Overtoom - Project Manager, de Baak Shanghai on meeting China’s challenges Leo Salazar - Senior Program Director International on the hidden costs of intercultural conflicts Martijn Seijsener - Program Director at de Baak on spanning African cultural boundaries Jan van der Veer - Artistic Director at de Baak on learning from art Margot Zoeteman - Program Director at de Baak interviews British political philosopher John Gray



a profile

De Baak: Roots in the Business World De Baak, as an institution, evolved from the largest employer’s organization in the Netherlands (the VNONCW—the “voice of Dutch business”). Our focus, the human side of enterprise, suggests deep work with people, a layered approach to change that produces long-term benefits for the individual, the organization, and, in some cases, society. Given our history and our continuous development, de Baak is acknowledged as the Netherlands’ leading training institute. Leadership. Entrepreneurship. Personal Development. Leaders and entrepreneurs, managers and professionals—all these and more seek inspiration and knowledge, motivation and courage. These are the benefits of de Baak’s learning environment. What de Baak Offers For international individuals and companies, de Baak offers both “open” and tailor-made programs. For the individual, we have a broad selection of international programs, events and one-on-one coaching. For organizations, we provide customized programs. And for society at large, we foster dialogue through de Baak events such as “Meet the World,” tackling issues ranging from social responsibility and diversity to globalization and sustainability.   Core Values at Stake In all that we do, we integrate our core values: Progress, Trust, Connection, Freedom, Responsibility, and Accountability. These are evident in our programs, our events—all of our activities. Why Choose de Baak? Again and again, we find that what transforms people is not an outside agent coming into an organization to “teach.” Rather, it is by empowering people to set learning goals for themselves that changes minds and behaviors. And this, in effect, is what de Baak achieves: we embed the ability to learn within organizations. De Baak clients and colleagues display a willingness to invest in themselves and a willingness to step outside their comfort zones.


Speak with Us To talk about training options for your organization, please contact Aly Alders: phone +31 71 369 04 00, or visit at To discuss programs for individuals, please contact de Baak’s Training Advice Bureau: phone +31 343 556 369, or go to For training facilities and accommodations, please contact BaakBoeking at: phone +31 343 556 179, or see De Baak has relationships with: HEC School of Management, France (partnership) Harthill Leadership Development Framework, UK Chinese Executive Leadership Academy, China Goethe Business School, Germany Esade Business School, Spain Ashridge Business School, UK London Business School, UK Cranfield University, UK Mil Institute, Sweden Kaos Pilots, Denmark Henley Management College, UK Oxford Templeton College, UK The Oxford Leadership Academy, UK Hernstein Institut für Management und Leadership, Austria IMD Business School, Switzerland ISAP, International School of Analytical Psychology, Switzerland Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School, Belgium Royal Roads University, Canada Insead, the Business School for the World, France IESE Business School / University of Navarra, Spain John Adams Institute, the Netherlands


learning at de baak





De Baak has a presence in: Amsterdam, the Netherlands IJsbaanpad 3B, 1076 CV Amsterdam, the Netherlands Antwerp, Belgium Beukenlaan 12 2020 Antwerp, Belgium Driebergen, the Netherlands P.O. Box 88, 3970 AB Driebergen De Horst 1, 3971 KR Driebergen, the Netherlands The Hague, the Netherlands Office at Malietoren Bezuidenhoutseweg 12 2509 AA The Hague, the Netherlands Noordwijk, the Netherlands P.O. Box 69, 2200 AB Noordwijk Koningin Astridboulevard 23 2202 BJ Noordwijk, the Netherlands Shanghai, China

associated with the VNO-NCW phone +31 343 556 369



Christian Morgenstern (1871-1914)

The Human Side of Enterprise; de Baak  

Six interviews with Dutch Leaders about Dutch leadership.

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