When Ronald asked me to write this preface, I didn’t give it a second thought! Ronald is, and has been, my business-associate for many years, so it’s more than my pleasure to add some words to his book.
Ronald is an extremely analytical man. He is capable of absorbing mountains of information and see the cross connections others don’t see. He thinks with lightening speed and is always ahead of the crowd (this makes him impatient every now and then).
I experienced his huge innovation power and his willingness to allow me to explore my own talents to translate our mutual vision into reality, creating perspective for all stakeholders in our value network.
May I take you back a couple of years? We were active in the world of meetings, conventions, and trainings by offering physical locations. However the years of economic abundance and growth are over. We see the change of our society, contaminating our markets. Ronald and I experience powerlessness from our traditional clients. They are lost and if we, as an organization, wouldn’t be careful we could have been sucked into their downfall. We like the old Chinese saying “When the winds of change are blowing, some people are building shelters and others are building windmills”.
So we chose the windmill option!
Our holding company is called CDEF, an abbreviation of the Spanish ‘Cada Dia Es una Fiesta’: everyday should be a celebration! This credo requires an attitude to start everyday with a healthy dose of playful curiosity. This, in turn, gives our stakeholders and us the opportunity to do the things we enjoy doing. And working with pleasure means following your passion and creating space for innovation.
We are looking ahead into the future on a daily basis, and discuss all development we see with our stakeholders. We analyze our mistakes openly. As a result, our ‘markets’ do not surprise us often. A society in transformation, failing government and politicians, and technological developments result in the increasing virtual connectivity of our stakeholders. These are developments we saw already years ago. We have to look ahead; we have to offer sustainable products and services needed by the market tomorrow. The present transition of our society becomes visible by the crises we are going through. For us, however, it is a time of major opportunities.
We see people organizing themselves without organizations, getting stuff from each other, and creating value every day. Often, we use reciprocity as a currency. The Web has made us ‘social’; people are connected locally and globally. Mobility has become a reality. Many traditional organizations run into trouble, stuck with their old strategies of cost cutting to achieve more efficiency and only grow by (often too expensive) takeovers. Traditional employees lose their security and trust in these corporations and many decide to become a self-enterprising professional or knowmad. Step by step, we see a growing demand for what we call ‘coworking,’ flexible office- and meeting space locations.
In 2007, we saw an opportunity for a disruptive innovation of the traditional ‘corporate meeting market.’ In one of the suburbs of the Dutch city of Utrecht, we startted a (silent) pilot with clients who are eager to change. We call this formula Seats2meet.com, a strong brand name as it proves by now. Good and creative thinking, Ronald!
After the pilot, it was time for the serious stuff. In the fall of 2008 we were able to get office space within walking distance of the largest central station in The Netherlands, above the Hoog Catharijne shopping mall. We stripped the entire place. And, we rebuilt it form scratch.
We created THE meeting point, the starting point, the incubation space, and the inspirational atmosphere for off- and on-line value creation. In the offline mode, the central ‘lobby’ is the heart of the location. We offer FREE coworking and also offer free coffee, tea and lunch. Around the corner from the lobby, we offer meeting rooms and shared office spaces. We offer our stakeholders a sophisticated online reservation system, including a property management- and yield management system through which we achieve an optimal occupancy in the right balance at an optimal ‘price.’ We offer freedom for clients to book, but also to cancel their space reservation with no penalties. Vitally important to us are the social connections and new value creation between people, not so much the offering of hardware (spaces). We offer the software to third parties, which made us grow within years to become the leading organization in The Netherlands in this field. We are on the brink of an international breakthrough, and we are already open (or will be shortly) in Japan, Belgium, Egypt, Spain, The UK, Germany, India, and the USA.
We think that by creating abundance by opening up the organization, seeking stakeholder connection and engagement, and by offering a serendipitous stage for new value creation by transforming stakeholders to become a ‘better’ professional, we have created, what we like to call, a Society30 Ecosystem. The founder of this vision, Ronald, will explain and elaborate on the topic in this book.
I am convinced that this book Society30 will inspire you, as mastering the Global Transition on our way to Society 3.0 inspires me daily! This book will assist you to achieve open innovation and explore the road to become a Society30 global citizen, creating value with the organization30. The book puts all development into the right context and perspective, and makes the daily dynamics of our time understandable. In the end, it makes you a better person looking ahead with confidence into our future. The glorious Society30 is imminent!
Marielle Sijgers, co-founder CDEF Holding