Last week two of us from Hub Amsterdam attended the Creative Company Conference . CCC  brings together creative thinkers and business leaders to explore and advance the creative economy and the future of business.  Ruurd Priester, Strategy Director of Lost Boys kicked us off by sharing this experience of “self-directed work teams” and how organic organisational growth (as opposed to planned and directed growth) gives energy to the organisation and its people. A critical success factor of creative teams, he said, is a high trust – high fun culture… “and people need a WHY”.

We then had a brilliant talk by Banny Banerjee, Director of the Stanford Design Program. “Design thinking has become a team sport,” shared Banerjee, “and it starts with what problem to solve”. He continued to share his perspective on design thinking as an emerging new form of leadership , that it is about “conceiving completely new opportunities” and being able to perceive the difference between complicatedness and complex. He highlighted the difference between trans-disciplinary and multiple-disciplinary and the latter as holding true potential for breakthrough innovation – because it is about what can emerge from diversity. This resonated a lot with our purpose at The Hub  – that high potential solutions for sticky societal issues have a larger chance to emerge from a community of multi-disciplinary entrepreneurs. “What’s easy to describe are the bricks, what’s hard to describe is the mortar, yet it’s mortar that gives the wall the strength.” And for us, that spoke directly to the quality of connection and conversation that needs to happen to build that high-trust – and thus co-creative – community.


“I don’t have time for that” is a poor excuse for changing ourselves to be part of a changing world, Steven van Belleghem challenged CCC participants. Steve is author of The Conversation Manager and a dynamic speaker about customer experience. “Word-of-mouth” drives decision-making consumers, and even more in the world of blogs, Facebook and Twitter, says Steve. What if companies understood that their service budget WAS their marketing budget. Too many organisations fail to build authentic relationship and feedback loops – with the people they set out to serve in the first place.


After a lunch time full of mingling and opportunities to try new creative technologies and services, Martijn Hamann of Van Ende & Deitmers spoke from a venture capital perspective. “Innovation does not mean we need to create something new… it’s about new thinking.”  As we were confronted with big brand examples of creativity in the media/TV field, we wondered what does it tell us about the culture we are co-creating (Family Feud, Biggest Loser, Survivor…) and also, what opportunities media might hold for content related to the creative and socially entrepreneurial field we are immersed in? Are there new stories about the world we live in to be told? Perhaps there is an invitation when Martijn proclaims, “we need the new and crazy ones… entrepreneurs drive the world”.

Niel Robertson, founder of Crowdsortium took the stage to speak about model disruption, crowdsourcing and changing incentives for involvement. “People don’t just do things because they are paid… creativity is really about intrinsic motivation”, said Niel and cited examples of how so many people inherently want to make something better and how that can fuel entrepreneurial innovation. Someone in the audience puts the central question of this segment well: If the labour market was crowd-sourced as a future model, how do we prevent it from becoming commoditised and dehumanised?

It seems that many are motivated by the sheer challenge and opportunity to put their creativity to work. With Victor van der Chrijs, the managing director of OMA we were taken through the choices his company has taken to work on the most creative architectural challenges – and how they live it: through the diversity of the staff, through the collaboration partners, and through applying design thinking to societal issues. See here how they apply imagination to a future Europe that is energy independent: Eneropa. Victor is asked:  How can we get the creative industry in the places that need creative solutions the most? He says, “living by example”.

And so that perfectly bridges to a woman who has lived the past years by example to share “Why I left Silicon Valley to find innovation… and what I found”! Welcome Sarah Lacy with  Simply inspiring! Sarah spoke to delivery innovations creating large-scale social change though enabling local people to make decisions about what they need, she spoke about the emerging world of innovation hotspots, and she spoke about no excuse for entrepreneurial and investment action as there are “plenty of problems to solve!” Sarah is a living example of powerful personal storytelling, bringing alive stories of changemakers who have overcome odds within themselves and their environments to make a systemic difference. “Rwanda is not just rebuilding what has been destroyed, but is building for the country they want to be.” Check out her new book: Brilliant, Crazy, Cocky: How the Top 1% of Entrepreneurs Profit from Global Chaos

So, thank you CCC for having us. It was a day well spent and with lots of creative input for our world-changing work… at least for another year till CCC12!

Read Alycia’s blogposts on What I learned from Banny, from Steven and from Niel.