The Trend Speech is an inspiring speech written by a dozen trend watchers in The Netherlands. I’m sharing the integral translation of the text for the 2013 edition right here, as I feel this should be shared as much as possible. I’m not associated or affiliated with these trendwatchers! Translation is done by Sylvie Dieteren, one of the trendwatchers involved.
This is again the third trend speech, a present of a temporary collective of 12 trendwatchers and forecasters for the Netherlands.
We would like to offer inspiration, show how the future unfolds itself and what we can do with it.
Read here the English version, translated by Sylvie Dieteren. The original, and all additional information can be found online at Trendrede.nl.
The past year was quite tumultuous. In October 2011, Occupy, you remember, took possession of a number of squares in cities all over the world. The media initially had no idea what to do with this, but we think that Occupy will be included in the history textbooks as a kind of start of a conversion.
Daily newspapers have been writing from different perspectives. All publications describe alternatives for our current economic and social systems and all types of citizens’’ initiatives continue and realize that things need to be done differently. The Netherlands slowly turns itself towards the future. If we can contribute to that with this trend speech, then we have reached our goal.
1. Apocalypse. Fortunately
“The World changes too fast to keep on describing it in the same words all the time” (sociologist Willem Schinkel, 2012)
The Maya’s. It appears they were right. The world is collapsing. It is not only an economic crisis. Don’t forget the political, ecological, technological and demographic and social-cultural crises. They even reinforce each other. It makes sense that all systems are about to collapse. whether we talk about the way we organize education, housing or the healthcare sector, the reality of the past few years has left a deep impression. Restoring the derailed past will not take place. Yet we keep on putting band aids. We are addicted. Addicted to the system and like every human addiction, physical and mental dependency makes it very difficult to stop. Do you still long for the warm bath of the past, then you will be given the cold shower of the future. The calendar of the past is about to end. Fortunately because this creates room for a new era. Welcome to 2013: the year in which all communities work on the basis of a new world.
In the previous trend speeches we described how the Netherlands managed to escape from a chasm of mistrust.
In order to protect ourselves from the known and unknown dangers and especially to protect ourselves from each other. We register all social regulations with protocols. The number of accepted regulations decreases by 30% annually. Whereas in the Netherlands the number of regulations increases by 20%.
Our addiction to the system forces us to control and limit. The result is that we become dependent on measuring instruments we created ourselves. Reality is supposed to adapt itself to the models we have developed.
For example: we expect more police in the street but on the other hand we don’t have much trust in the individual police officer that we force him/her to spend his time filling in forms in which he/she has to account himself.
We invent regulations to make universities responsible for their results but at the same time we are surprised that the number of students that graduate is exactly the amount needed in order to maintain the money flow. We check everything all the time and yet there is no system that can cope with the accounting creativity of individuals. A society that forces honesty by checking, will drown in fraudulent data.
Beyond the tug-of-war
The Disillusionment is high
What is true and what is a lie? Who dares to take a decision when even the most basic data and the authorities that provide us with these data cannot be trusted? Even worse than an economic crisis is a social crisis. A society that fails is really unaffordable. The experts are wrestling at a higher level: If we get out of the current financial and economic systems then we collapse. If we hold on to it, then we might also collapse. The tug-of-war is not the solution. The only way out is letting go.
A new language for a new era
Current times demand for a new language that gives momentum to the revolution that is in the air. We use popular terms such as ‘measuring is knowing’ and jumping over your own shadow. Is this the direction we are heading in our society? Is it true that we only want to know about the things that we can measure? If we jump over our own shadow, are we back in the sun again? What do phrases such as freedom, individualism, solidarity, society, sustainability mean these days? Where are the borders of what we call the Netherlands? Now it turns out that on the one hand we are dependent on the countries surrounding us and on the other hand on the infinite powers of Google, Facebook and Apple. These companies transcend the economy of an average country.
In springtime Bas Heijne wrote in his column in the Dutch newspaper NRC that we change from a market morality towards a public morality. This new public morality makes it quite clear that the demand we put on society we also put on ourselves. The era of ego centricity is lying behind us. And with this also the era of the big mutual power measurement. If we individually strive for more we end up collectively with less. The crisis and the spirit of the time force us into a surprising combination of putting yourself into perspective and self-empowerment. ‘I am only an individual. It is not just me who is society. But everything I do contributes to society – and everything that I don’t do will be withheld from society.’ We are going to see our individual strength as part of the bigger picture. It is with reason that this year the Architecture Biennale in Venice has chosen for ‘common ground’ . They have not chosen for famous architects who show their latest achievements but for a search for the social roots of the sector.
We forecast a period of derailment. We need to re-organize the Netherlands. We are now positioned in a vacuum of the system: the old road leads to a dead end but the new roads still need to be paved. Those who hope that a charismatic leader will show us the new world, miss the revolution that takes place in silence. The catalyst we look for does not come from one of the old institutions. Those who have an eye for the small movement see how a new world is created. The citizen becomes more and more his own government. The catalyst of a new world. That is us.
We lay the basis for a new world by focusing on matters we want to understand and hold on to. Matters we dare to trust. Last year we introduced the responsible citizen. He does not fight the system that in his view has run aground. He re-invents his needs and wants and goes his own way. The quote ” I say what I hope and I do what I can” resonates strongly. Society is overloaded with individuals who unite themselves to maintain threatened cases or who implement new needs. And this is an important sign of the time. It is encouraging that the government notices the invigorated activity in society. In The Hague on October 8 ‘power in the Netherlands’ starts , an initiative of the ministry of the Interior. This initiative wants to make visible, encourage and connect the resilience in society and economy professionally and structurally.
A relationship of convenience: a one off happening
If the crisis has taught the individual one thing then it is that perfect freedom is an illusion and that we are more dependent on one another than we thought. We cannot do without our surroundings. Pieter Hilhorst, who writes columns in De Volkskrant introduces the term self-reliance. We are in search of our unique meaning within the relations we live in. We want to see the relation between the work we do and what others see notice, a chain between wish and reality. We move from self-reliance to a relationship of convenience. The responsible citizen wants to make himself useful for the community within the circle of trust.
This means the end of power measurement and the beginning of power meeting: collectively giving an impulse to a problem, building and supporting. When the goal has been reached everyone goes his own way. The relationship of convenience is visible in the almost endless row of new citizen initiatives. G500 used the individual voice of youth to have an influence at party conferences. Together we are stronger: when we buy holidays, energy, clearing waste and carrying the risks for the inability to work. The bloated chicken disappears from the supermarket shelves by targeted bundled actions. Online platform Floow2 collects temporary shortages and surpluses in company material and thus reduces the necessity for big individual investments. All these initiatives re-define the social order. People are more social than they thought and divide enthusiastically their individual power with their surroundings.
At the moment the basis for a new world are laid everywhere in the Netherlands. In the bursts of the old the new flourishes. We are fed up with politicians who argument all the time and managers who only want to earn more. And above all we are fed up with the lethargy around us. Every rehabilitation process shows symptoms of cold turkey and the old fights back. But the new path is right in front of us. After having noticed what we lack, we continue working with what is present. The catalyst of the new world turns out to be we, ourselves. In the future it will be less about individual power and more about combined strength. The Netherlands organizes itself again in a relationship of convenience. With kindred spirits we build structures which will make the existing structure irrelevant. In the next part we will discuss the building blocks and the dynamic cohesion of the new world.
2. The treasure room of data and attention
“ That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”
(Neil Armstrong, 1969)
Money and growth were the points to focus on in the past decades. First as a chance, the past few years especially as à threat. Again and again we cause short-circuit: We try to connect the wires but the financial lamp will not burn. Fortunately innovators build everywhere in society alternative elements and more and more people contribute. Money may be in short supply, there is an abundance of things that we can exchange. There are Transition Towns and Local Transaction Systems. Timebank exchanges things for hours worked. The ‘don’t do it yourself day’ is one of the many concepts in which people exchange services. Time, attention, ideas, energy and knowledge are the building blocks of the new world. We give attention and we receive data. And we also receive attention when we are prepared to give data.
From growth economy to balanced economy
After many years being driven by an unbridled search for more, now the time has come of the concentrated search for less. The ‘ too much, too often’ breaks us literally and figuratively: our unlimited desires tear us and the society apart. We no longer want more, we want better. And less can be better. Everything that has grown too big loses cohesion and thus strength. A new balance arises between what is growing and what is shrinking. A recent advertising campaign of Triodos Bank puts it in the following words: “the power is not to be big anymore but to be small.” The affluent power of small replaces the exploited power of big and we start the development from growth economy towards a balanced economy. The future calls out for attention rather than money.
A sustainable building wave
The new world is one of contributions instead of removals. Too long we have harvested on a considerable scale. Time has come to sow with the targets in mind.
In the field of energy the island of Texel wants to be self-supporting in 2020. Throughout the country new cooperations are set up. To produce energy together instead of consuming it. A company building that has been changed into houses or even a greenhouse. Together exchanging services with no money involved.
Researcher Anne Marieke Schwencke described the bottom-up energy revolution. There is “ an explosion of local and regional energy companies. There are about 300 initiatives for decentralized sustainable energy generation”. The Scientific Board for Government Policy also notices the trend: “a third field has risen of social initiatives. Citizens take the initiative in order to reach a certain goal.” Companies and organizations that dare to join these initiatives have the future. To be sensible now results in profits later.
Life does not stop now that the standard of living stops growing. We no longer grow towards the outside but towards the inside. A lot can be gained here.
Selfsteering in a social context is the strong motor behind social innovation. We only want to follow rules when they fit in our intrinsic motivation.
New social and commercial initiatives take this as a starting point and build on the strength of the individual within the group. Recently the founder of ‘Buurtzorg’ an organization for neighbourhood care, Jos de Blok, received the Management Team award for ‘game changer of the year’. 5,500 people work at ‘Buurtzorg’ in small autonomous teams. There is no management, only a number of coaches and an IT system. De Blok:” you need to use the capacity to organize your workers instead of troubling them. Ask people how they can organize their work better. The more responsibility you workers get, the more they feel responsible and do things themselves.” Also ‘Eigen Kracht Centrales’ (Own Strength Centres) flourish. The idea: everyone can be in charge of his own life. We no longer use 12 staff members to help a family with problems; their social network is used to offer support. We de -systemize and organize ourselves again. Since strengthening the weakest link makes life for everyone in the chain much more comfortable. Our individual happiness is connected with the circles of trust around us.
The strength of dedicated attention
The focus on the origin of food and tools we use is also increasing. We want to redesign the production process and to make the number of adaptions less. Thus it has become easier to recognize the origin of the product. And with this its intrinsic strength. The demand for craftsmen is obvious. Whether we talk about furniture, fashion or care: there is a need for dedicated craftsmen. During the Olympics Epke Zonderland showed how the combination of talent and dedication can lead to a new level of craftsmanship. Reporter Hans van Zetten moved everyone with his optimistic story about strength and dedicated attention:” Boys in the Netherlands, it is possible! Even if you live in the Netherlands. Get to work. Do something. Set a target.!”
The data gold rush
Technology leads to new applications and makes knowledge, communication and capital easily accessible. The biggest talent appears to build a new world outside the walls of the traditional systems. A 15 year old boy developed a cheap and effective test for pancreas cancer, only by some googling during biology classes. To create new gold with the help of free accessible data: it is the rediscovery of alchemy. There is another world to win by linking data in the right way. Professor Gert Westert conducts research on variations in practice regarding treatments in the health care sector. If we can link data in the right way, then people are protected from redundant treatment. The waste of hours and time reduces. In the future the specialist will call us pro-actively:” from data it appears that within half an hour you will have a heart attack. Take the red pill from your emergency package; an ambulance is on its way.”
Always connected, time out
In the new normal offline is a time out of the always on culture. Thanks to real-time data renewals we understand ourselves much better and we amend unwanted developments. But it also leads to a nagging doubt: how sure are we that we don’t miss a piece of crucial data? We are in a transition phase. The opportunities of the fast flowing sea of data are endless, but our brain has its limitations for the time being. A world in which we are online with reality demands a new etiquette. Since we pay with attention, our peace of mind becomes a luxury. Twitterless meals and mobiles off restaurant tables are introduced. In education it leads to meditation classes without mobiles and classes in which you are taught how to ignore others. The Slow Web Manifesto calls for developing a technology that slows down and offers relevance. Software is there to filter the thick sea of data into clear information, which reaches us exactly when and where we need it. Data add to more value when they flow more freely. But we do not want to drown. We learn to swim.
Playing in the data pool
We learn more and more about materials that are 100,000 times smaller than the thickness of hair. Scientists play with nano Lego. By mixing and matching the bricks in a different way totally new shapes are created. Medical science hopefully looks for medicines that precisely fight tumors. Soon we serve nanonaise with our fries- fat free and yet creamy. Our T-shirt keeps us online and we build windows and walls of very thin plastic that is stronger than steel. We can build a new world out of the nano scale.
This will give the economic innovation a similar impulse as the discovery of the internet did. We are only at the beginning of the data economy, in which data producers sell data derivatives through data banks. The new Goldman Sachs is a data dealer. Of course where data are exchanged fraud and speculation are lurking. We forecast in advance a data crisis before 2030. But in the years to come we will play in the data pool and build a whole new world.
This time the revolution does not start with big gestures but from individual craftsmanship and self-regulation. We create new value by either living life at a slow pace with full attention or by letting the speed of technology do its job. In the new way of thinking production, growth and profit no longer dominate but strength of data and attention. In the future we need and can think fast and slowly at the same time. If we all do one small step then we collectively make one giant leap in the future.
3. the dynamic cohesion of things
“If the model of your ethical life wins from you, change the model”
We turn away from anonymous big scale economic system but we invest completely in local growth economy.
In small scale things we find trust, on a local scale we dare to build. Mind that small is something different than simple. We are done with the simplification of our lives, like the media still celebrates. The standard question in an interview: ‘can you summarize the problem in two sentences?’ is irritating us. Pointing towards an easy scapegoat means that we don’t want to dig deeper for more complex causes. Whether we discuss the environmental problem, the Euro crisis or the costs for healthcare, the truth cannot be dealt with in 140 characters any longer. Even not on 1 A4. Slowly we realize that simplification does not give us the solutions for today’s big problems. We are zooming in and out at the same time. We try to find the smallest link in order to build the whole chain again. We are going to celebrate the cohesion of things.
The strength of the smallest link
We see a change from thoughtless consuming towards meaningful creating. For the coming years we predict that the economy will be characterized by the strength of the smallest link. That strength lies in the analysis of the details, of the precise structure of complex systems. This way individual possibilities are analyzed. New systems are built everywhere. Now we have the pillar of health care, the pillar of finance and the pillar of politics. It should be different. The smallest chains will be connected in the near future. That is how they get the big systems out of their powerful comfort zone. Elderly people start a care cooperation. This way they stay out of the nursing home as long as possible. Independent professionals organize joint purchase. Micro loans lead to maximum revenue. The system capsizes because the smallest chain discovers its strength and thus changes the chain.
The dividing line disappears
The quantum mechanics teach us that a small part can be at several places at the same time. That sounds complicated. And it is. The future expects us to have the expertise to have a look at a problem or opportunity from different points of view. We are going to investigate different dimensions of reality. Young people already live in a multi-dimensional reality. They change, without thinking, from a conversation in the school yard to Facebook and Whatsapp, from mobile, tablet or old-fashioned computer. They don’t worry about the line between individual and virtual individual. Also the line between mind and body becomes less clear. Microbiologist Rosanne Hertzberger writes in the newspaper NRC: ”whether a treatment is through the brain such as placebos or directly aimed at the disease such as medication, the effect is just as measurable. Brain and Body are no separate worlds. Old lines disappear when we rise above them and start to see the connection.
Everything is connected
Managers who still believe that the economy follows a straight path from A to B or who believe that there is a linear connection between problem and solution, become rare.The human path is fickle and can be considered more circular than direct. When we have big problems there are a lot of ifs and buts. We have lost the adamant check and we need to get used to it. The dynamic cohesion has the future. Everything is connected in permanently changing constellations. We have the task to find out about the complex relations in fast changing circumstances and while doing this change our direction. There is a shared desire to reach a higher level of insight. Thus it seems that the simplicity of the digital era is obsolete. Holistic computers have the future: researchers at the Technical University in Delft discovered the Majorana-part. With this, computers can also calculate the value between ‘0’ and ‘1’. and ‘ think’ in more detail. We need new software developers, let’s call them ‘finetunerds’: nerds who are sensitive enough to push the computer buttons very accurately.
Nature as inspiration
For billions of years nature has gained experience in adaption, balance and cohesion. The oldest eco systems momentarily inspire the latest adaptations. The complex structure of a termite hill for example inspired architect Mick Pearce to develop a shopping mall in Harare where neither air-conditioning nor heating is needed. The shark was an inspiration to develop faster swimming suits and the lotus flower was an inspiration for dirt repellent paint. In every inch on earth or human skin a complete world can be discovered. The attention for these small worlds little by little leads to more understanding of the greater cohesion.
Flourishing in a dynamic cohesion
The innovative assignment for the future is to understand the greater cohesion. The world is complex and we are a small part of it. All decisions made daily can amount to world events. The media tell us that our pensions are used in communication appliances that are also distributed to dictators. At the same time we watch in agony the terrible pictures of dead bodies in Damascus. We use our Ipad to angrily tweet about the terrible circumstances Ipads are produced. A century ago Henry Ford said:” it is for the better that people don’t understand our banking system because if they do, it could lead to a revolution”. The search for cohesion fascinates us more and more. The TV show ‘ the battle for Holland’ tries to find out what the chains of decisions regarding the infra-structure are. Who decides where and how we build and where does the money come from? Recently the newspaper De Volkskrant introduced Vonk in which decisions made, are investigated and described. Every chain, no matter how complicated, has a way in and a way out. If we hold on to an essential chain, the question remains: do we hold on to it or do we dare to let go to create an alternative? More and more people choose for alternative chains. If banks don’t loan money, companies set up a mutual Credit Union. People in the same neighbourhood lend each other money through Snappcar. We are not going back to the times of patronizing social control but in the chosen chain within which we live and work we flourish in dynamic cohesion.
From linear to circular thinking
Hundreds of years ago we found out that the world is not flat. Now the era of linear thinking ends. The direct road between investment and profits are blocked by Avaaz, Twitter and our own conscience. Every step we take, as a human being or as a company, has consequences. We slowly learn to involve the bigger picture, the complete circle in our decisions. The term holism was taken from the esoteric world, but makes a comeback in management literature. Cradle to cradle thinking has lots of followers. In the field of food supplies initiatives arise that minimize the waste within the chain. Local production turns out to be more often a profitable and appreciated alternative. Restaurants use vegetables and herbals from their own gardens. Domestic chefs cook for their neighbours via ‘ thuisafgehaald.nl’. Taste and Waste has a closer look at our immense food waste ad tries to retrieve new value from it. The food chain becomes smarter, cleaner and healthier. Circular thinking leads to new services in the field of energy. They take over the energy costs of for example swimming pools, get rid of waste and thus compensate themselves. The organization of society changes. Mobility will, in the near future, consists of storing personal modules, city car, public transport, bike, and holiday car in one transport package, the educational system will break through linear thinking in which students ‘flow through a pipeline towards the exit.’ Even taxes will adapt to this chain thinking. Often we pay for the raw materials that we waste. Taxes regarding raw materials, energy and waste replace a part of the old-fashioned income tax. The things we contribute to the chain should not be taxed, only what we take from it.
About direction motivator, data pilot and holistic management
The bigger complexity of circular thinking requires new skills. We are going to learn to find the direction within ourselves. Those who stay benchmarking drown in the data sea. This applies to people and companies. And to the Netherlands. We see the rise of 3 important new professions. The direction motivator guards the essence of the organization and connects the individual motivations of employees with the collective identity. This way it is possible that even if the circumstances change they can keep on working from that identity. The data pilot focuses on the sea of data and decides on the basis of real time analysis the optimal direction of the moment. It is very well possible that the best data pilot is a computer. Software is much better in a fast analysis of the small environment variables and the calculation of the consequences of this direction. In the US they have already developed software that can replace a judge. A third new profession is the Holistic Manager. The manager logistics is responsible for streamlining the production process, the holistic manager is focused on the complexity. He translates the dynamic cohesion of the world outside to the organization and he monitors simplification and inflexibility. When the employees focus too much on short-term interest, the Holistic Manager reminds them of the collective interest. The three professions are a symbol of the future in which we recognize our own strength, the bigger cohesion and where we can move flexibly.
Slowly we replace our old models by a new way of thinking. In order to get the future clear we need to be able to see the reality from different points of view, just like the quantum mechanics. If we zoom out there is always a pattern to be seen from which we can draw conclusions. But we also need to go back to the smallest essence to discover elements with which we can create the new cohesion. Sometimes we look a bit further into the future: we are on our way to an era of dynamic cohesion, in which holistic managers and data pilots show us the right direction, in which circular becomes the new linear. It is the strength of the smallest link that defines how the chain will grow. The leaders of the future will be like Dorian Rijsselberghe: react to parameters around you, be flexible regarding opportunities and threats, go with the flow and yet being the first to reach the finish. Those who can cope with this complexity have gold in their hands.
What we need in the Netherlands is a broader view and the wish to move forward. We see it bubbling everywhere in the Netherlands. Let’s leave the dead end paths and walk new roads. We plea for the idea of self-regulation within cohesion, for slow attention and fast technology. But above all we plea for optimism. We exclaim 2013 the year of the new era.