Entrepreneurship is about looking ahead. But how do you do that? How do we currently view the future? Entrepreneurship in 2040 is the subject of the fifth episode of NOM Talks, the podcast on topics facing entrepreneurs. From agility to innovation, from funding to employees. Topics covering all phases of entrepreneurship.
Of building the future, this episode's two guests, Rutger van Zuidam and Edward van der Meer, know a thing or two. Van Zuidam is the founder of Odyssey.org a studio for digital collaboration, which gained momentum due to the corona crisis. Van der Meer, as NOM Talks host Wim A,B. puts it, as director of Campus Groningen, is responsible for "a big bag of money": the Campus Community Fund. With this, Campus Groningen is working on the future of business and education in the northern Netherlands.
Together is the key word
When host A,B. asks for a glimpse into that future, what should we really be talking about, both guests answer in similar vein. The bottom line is collaboration. Van Zuidam: ,,The future is a place where you can go. That's where you can come together and think of things together that you want to integrate into the now.''
Van der Meer adds that today - looking to the future - he looks differently at where that collaboration takes place. From buildings to places. Places with a community and services that everyone can use. The future is optimal collaboration so that everyone can participate in that future, according to Van Zuidam. ''And if you don't include the future in your plans, then you are falling behind,'' Van der Meer says.
The future generations
Remarkably, the fifth installment of NOM Talks initially unfolds as a conversation about those future places. About the digital technologies that are changing the world further, faster and faster. That are changing collaborations. That offer opportunities to shape the future. And about the people of today.
This episode is not initially about the people of the future. Only when our podcast host introduces ten-year-old Herna does the conversation shift to the generations of the future. How does Herna see working in the world of 2040? As opposed to answering that question, the 10-year-old doesn't start with the work she wants to do later. She talks about the life she wants to live.
The entrepreneur who wants to remain relevant in the future cannot ignore the generations that populate the future. They are, as Van der Meer rightly notes in this podcast, concerned with societal challenges. ''I used to be much less so,'' he amply admits. ''You see that young people care and want to give challenges a place.'' Companies that are not (yet) dealing with those challenges are rejected by Generation Z (who are now at the beginning of their careers) and Alpha (born between 2010 and 2024). What they buy and who they work for must resonate with their values. They demand business as a force for good.
Youth has the future
In product development and innovation, it is now commonplace to involve users. There we find it quite normal to ask someone how their toothbrush can be made better. So why don't we involve users and workers of the future in shaping that future? Why do we often still think of it primarily for them, rather than with them?
The success story of Jimmy's, originally from Groningen, shows that it is possible to build something in co-creation with young people. It has since grown into a national network of talent incubators for young people, under the banner of the company Up to Us. Give young people confidence and make them co-owners. And above all: be professionally naive as adults, co-founder Fanny Koerts explains the success of Jimmy's in her TedTalk.
It is not easy to always act with confidence, Koerts says. ,,But now I know that it does always pay off.'' Jimmy's has existed - successfully - for ten years. In honor of that anniversary, Koerts and co-founder Marloes Dekker collected their experiences in a book that will be published in the fall of 2021. For those who want to learn to shape the future with young people and thus remain relevant as a company, this is a good start.
Working together equally
''It is up to us to get young people off the sidelines where the current system leaves them,'' Van Zuidam argues, as this episode moves toward the end about the generations of the future and he talks about how young people were given a role in his last hackathon. ''It's up to us, the current generation, to see that the contributions young people can make are essential. Maybe even crucial to solving any issue.''
Actually, entrepreneurship in 2040 is about equal cooperation based on trust, with everyone playing a role in that future.