Bas Boorsma – The Current Paradigm Shift:The Network Paradigm

Bas Boorsma
Bas Boorsma has been specialising in smart cities for over 20 years. He shares with us "The magic of conflict resolution", why we should learn to "Be comfortable with being uncomfortable" and how "Passion and intelligence goes a long way" along with seven other valuable lessons. Hosted by Siebe Van Der Zee.

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About Bas Boorsma

Bas Boorsma is a leading urban innovation and digitalization specialist & executive with 20 years of experience in the ‘smart city’ space. Bas serves as the (external) CDO to the City of Rotterdam. In this capacity Bas is lead orchestrator, facilitator and ambassador to the city and its innovation ecosystem. Bas also serves as Professor of Practice at the Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University. Bas is also Vice President EMEA of the Cities Today Institute, and also serves as Chief Innovation Officer at Change, a fast-growing Living as a Service company. He also serves as Member of the Board, at the Smart City Association Italy (TSCAI). Bas is the author of the well acclaimed book “A New Digital Deal”.

Bas served in various global and regional leadership positions at Cisco From 2015 Bas served as Cisco’s Digitization lead for the Northern European region at Cisco. In this capacity he managed a series of city engagements, leading the way on Internet of Things related innovations for, with and in cities.

Episode Notes

Lesson 1: The Magic Of Conflict Resolution. 04m 32s

Lesson 2: Learn To Be Comfortable With Being uncomfortable. 07m 44s

Lesson 3: Social Innovation Can Never Be A Project Run By One Group Of People For The Benefit Of Another. 10m 36s

Lesson 4: How Grand Designs Fail When It Comes To The Betterment Of Citizens. 14m 27s

Lesson 5: Passion And Basic Intelligence Goes A Long Way. 16m 24s

Lesson 6: The Current Paradigm Shift. The Network Paradigm. 18m 52s

Lesson 7: The Magic Of Teams Synchronicity. 24m 02s

Lesson 8: It’s Tough To Beat One’s Demons. 26m 05s

Lesson 9: The Importance Of Walking. 28m 58s

Lesson 10: Love Comes In Many Colours. 32m 21s

Bas Boorsma 10 Lessons

 

[00:00:06] Siebe Van Der Zee: Hello, and welcome to our podcast. 10 Lessons it Took Me 50 Years to Learn. Where we talk to businesspeople, journalists ambassadors, artists, sports, heroes, leaders, and luminaries from all over the world. Our goal is to dispense wisdom for life and for business, and to provide you with shortcuts to excellence.

My name is Siebe Van Der Zee, and I’m your host. I’m originally from the Netherlands happily residing in the beautiful state of Arizona in the United States. Also known as the Dutchman in the desert. I hope you will enjoy this program. This podcast is sponsored by PDF to Professional Development Forum. You can find out more about PDF at professionaldevelopmentforum.org.

Our guest today is Professor Bas Boorsma. Bas Boorsma is the leading urban innovation and digitalization expert. And a corporate executive with 20 years of experience in the so-called smart city space. He recently joined the city of Rotterdam in the Netherlands as the city’s chief digital officer. In this capacity Bas is the lead orchestrator and facilitator through the city of Rotterdam and its innovation ecosystem.

Now keep in mind, Rotterdam is the biggest Harbor in Europe. In other words, this is a massive undertaking. Bas also serves as professor of practice at my alma mater the Thunderbird school of global management at Arizona state university in Arizona. And he is the author of a well acclaimed book named the new digital deal. Earlier in his career, Bas served in various global and regional leadership positions at Cisco for several years, he served as Cisco digitization lead for the Northern European region. In this capacity, he led the way on the internet of things related innovations for, with an in cities. All of this, with the ultimate goal of creating smart cities.

Welcome Bas, thank you so much for joining us.

[00:02:06] Bas Boorsma: Thank you for having me, Siebe.

[00:02:08] Siebe Van Der Zee: It’s great to have you on our program. And, uh, of course, we’re going to listen to your 10 lessons. I’m also curious just for our global audience, what makes a city or a region, a smart city?

[00:02:21] Bas Boorsma: Well, that’s a very tough question, uh, term smart city’s been around for roughly two decades and it’s come to mean so many different things.

Siebe, I always like to joke that, I no longer know what a smart city actually is. But obviously it’s got a lot to do with technology, digital technologies that have entered our lives and have made a significant impact on our cities. But up to a point, digital technologies have come to stress a little bit too much.

And in the end, it’s about how do we innovate in order to ensure that our cities are going to be successful, liveable, and sustainable in the 21st century. And obviously that comes with a lot of innovations and a lot of technology.

[00:03:05] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah. There there’s a lot involved, and I know we will address some of that in the 10 lessons that you’re going to discuss, but I’m also curious Bas.

in your career and in your life, you have experienced so many different things, as I know. But is there a first lesson or a greatest lesson in life that you have learned that you want to share with the audience?

[00:03:27] Bas Boorsma: Well, that’s lesson zero, I suppose then right? So now for me, and I, I can’t say, I mean, perhaps this doesn’t work that way for other people, but for me is to be genuinely honest, to try to be honest to yourself.

First of all, honesty goes a long way. Sometimes it does make things more difficult for yourself, but generally, it helps to clean up and it helps to clarify what you want to achieve. And it helps to clarify the people that you work with, what it is that you’re about and what you want to achieve. Honesty really is probably one of the most important things.

And don’t get drunk on your own Kool-Aid if you’re in marketing, uh, even if you’re very excited about new technology that you’re producing or whatever, you know, get down to earth now and then, and just look in the mirror and, you know, ask yourself the question. Am I 100% honest about what I’m doing?

[00:04:20] Siebe Van Der Zee: I like that. It obviously is a lesson that, I would say most people understand. But there are different definitions of honesty, I think. And, uh, that is something that we have to deal with worldwide.

[00:04:32] Lesson 1

[00:04:32] Siebe Van Der Zee: But let’s move to the first of your 10 lessons. Magic of conflict resolution. And I would say we can all agree. There is way too much conflict in the world. And do you have a solution for us?

[00:04:47] Bas Boorsma: Siebe, let me tell you a story. One of my first professional jobs in my career was to be part of United Nations peacekeeping operation in Cambodia, an incredibly traumatized country that wasn’t a civil war forever. The contemporary comparison would potentially be Afghanistan, which we left again to its own devices. And that’s, you know, it’s been a painful chapter, same for Cambodia, going through war genocide and the United Nations quite rightfully entered. Commenced this peacekeeping operation.

I became part of that peace keeping operation. And I became, because I was kind of a specialist in Cambodia. I focused on it in my studies, and I became an advisor to the peacekeeping troops on the Dutch side, there was a large Dutch contingent of Marines air force, regular ground forces and, what I discovered, what was really intriguing to me is.

How much conflict can be resolved if you actually look at the hyper-local interests, things that really relate to people in their direct lives. So very often we have conflicts about very abstract things, ideologies, um, particular perspectives, which are political or religious or, very abstract in nature.

But one of the things which really helps to counter a major conflict in various provinces in Cambodia is actually listening to what people were all about. Their day-to-day conflicts and their day-to-day concerns, their day-to-day challenges like the rice harvest, not being very optimal in many ways, for instance.

And what it allowed the Dutch contingent to do is to make hyperlocal deals. If you want this, and this is your concern. Then you can swap, you can go into your each other’s territory. You can visit family that you haven’t seen for years, but we ask from you a price is that you bring a gun and, you know, hand it in.

And it was successful. They just specified the entire province for like a very long time, as long as they were there. And, and it was such an incredible insight at that point. Like if you truly listen, and if you listen to the genuine interests that people have that have the move. That is just very powerful and that can actually allow you to mitigate any type of conflict or many conflicts that you may face.

[00:07:09] Siebe Van Der Zee: My first thought is thank you for your service. It is amazing how many people are investing their lives and risking their lives sometimes on these types of missions, but at the same time, The lesson that you just mentioned is very powerful. And I, I would imagine that you carry that with you, for the rest of your life.

[00:07:29] Bas Boorsma: It does, it does as is the entire Cambodia experience because it’s after, after the entire trip that you start to realize what you’ve gone through and what was challenging about it. And that also stayed with me for the, my entire life.

[00:07:44] Lesson 2

[00:07:44] Siebe Van Der Zee: Well, lesson number two, perhaps a good follow-up, learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.

[00:07:50] Bas Boorsma: Certainly, that did get started in Cambodia, for sure. You have to be comfortable in being uncomfortable. But that lesson really extended throughout my life. And I think currently Siebe, we’re living in an age where we see a major paradigm shift happened. The world around us is changing much more than saying the early nineties when I served in Cambodia. We are, we’re getting digitalized and things around us become more networks.

The old industrial age paradigm is going out the window and you know what, Siebe? There is another kind of side lesson to that. Uh, but it doesn’t come from me, but I digest it and I can reproduce it, which is this when you’re living a major shift, like an industrial revolution type of shift, the past stops being a source of guidance for the present and future, which means that all the things that you could hold on to us in terms of certainties things that were relevant to you that were told to you may not be as relevant to guide you through the present and future.

And with that comes a level of discomfort. And this is something that all of us young and old we need to be, to grow comfortable with. We need to grow. We need to learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.

[00:09:06] Siebe Van Der Zee: How do you manage that? Because that’s a great point. And of course, we like to hold on to what we think is well, this is the way we have done it. Why should we change it?

[00:09:15] Bas Boorsma: Absolutely. I think that there is no direct guidance on it, except learn from others that have proved to be pretty resilient in life. Uh, and, and what resilience means to you? How can you guide yourself back to a certain level of comfort if you will, and, but also try to be excited about what’s unexpected ahead of you, to not look at the future as a threat, but to look at it as that vast arena of opportunities for yourself personally, also. And to just, embrace that promise that with change, uh, indeed use them to benefit. And you also tend to learn a lot from all of that change, uh, to live a life that’s almost identical to the circumstances of your parents is just in my perspective, like quite a bit more boring.

So just be excited about what’s ahead of you, while you live in times of such incredible change.

[00:10:08] Siebe Van Der Zee: It’s an interesting point. And again, I’m tempted. Add to it. Because it’s, it’s of course tough people that are in their mindsets, stuck in the present, not even in the past.

Yes. Learn from others as you suggest makes a lot of sense, but are people willing to learn? Are people willing to open themselves up? Because there is a level of perhaps security in sticking to the present and the past.

[00:10:36] Lesson 3

[00:10:36] Siebe Van Der Zee: Anyway, we’ll move on to the third lesson. There’s some great stuff in here.

Lesson number three, social innovation can never be a project run by one group of people for the benefit of another. Why not?

[00:10:51] Bas Boorsma: So, look, first of all, let me say that I stole that line with pride. Uh, it was the opening line in a book, and apparently it came out of the Israeli judiciary. And I can imagine why it originated in that particular country, given the fact how they have to deal with different cultures. Try to maintain some type of peace, several peoples in one country and trying to maintain all of that.

But in terms of my own learnings, what I have reasonably experienced in, let’s say the innovation space, urban innovation space, smart city space is you try to build stuff for people. There is like this great smart parking app. Wow, cool. Why wouldn’t anyone embrace that? To only find out that this is truly something that people do not want.

It hasn’t been discovered by them. It hasn’t been invented by them. It doesn’t really match the hyper-local needs of the people that you’re dealing with. And so, it doesn’t work. Had you, however, brought those same people into your design room, then in fact, that’s smart parking app might have worked. I mean, I don’t like smart parking as an example, but, you know, it just popped up in my mind as an example, I suppose. So, there you go. You have to actually work with the people that you try to innovate things for. So, if you’re an innovation leader or you occupy some type of space in a company or a government entity or, or a school where you’re going to address innovation and you want to bring people along, then do exactly that.

Bring them along for the journey. If those people are geographically, remote from where you are. A little piece of advice, go to where people are because you’re going to learn. You can only innovate together with people. You cannot innovate for them. And especially when it concerns social innovation, not just basic technology, but socially innovation.

When there’s behaviour change involved, that’s the point where you actually really need to reconsider how you innovate and, are you doing it with people or for them?

[00:12:52] Siebe Van Der Zee: I imagine that when you think about the concept of smart cities around the world, that there are cities and regions that are more proactive and saying, we not only have to talk about it and think about it, but we have to apply, and we have to implement.

And, you have obviously a global knowledge, but do you think we are on track? Is this something that society is buying into and this type of social innovation?

[00:13:22] Bas Boorsma: Well, we have to, we have to, because the world is facing such an incredible shift at the old designs of as to how we manage organizations, how we manage government, how we, run the elections.

 All of that is kind of getting beyond its expiry date. And, and what you just mentioned just now is completely true. There are a lot of people out of their comfort zones, and they may want to hold on to the past. However, you know, decide for yourself at what side of the paradigm shift you want to stand it, you know, the wrong site, which is the past or the future.

And, and I think there are so many people that are ready to lead to step forward into the future, realize that the old ways of designing stuff, top down, managing people top down, all of that is working less and less, and there is a more networked collaborative way of arriving at whatever it is that we need to have built achieve.

And so, yes, this lesson is being learned. It is being embraced, but it’s taking a generation.

[00:14:27] Lesson 4

[00:14:27] Siebe Van Der Zee: It goes to this lesson that goes in a way into lesson number four, right. It overlaps how grand designs fail when it comes to the betterment of citizens, humanity, and how that applies to smart cities as well.

[00:14:40] Bas Boorsma: So, In some ways, I mean, this particular person needed to backtrack on his own statement in the nineties, Francis Fukuyama said there was an end of history because in some ways there was the big ideologies of the 20th century and it spelled out what history was all about, especially in that century. Take a big idea. Like socialism. Socialism is very good at defining what’s good for humanity, but they’re actually pretty awful. And the ideology is pretty awful about the finding. What’s good for a human being. And I think the big ideologies, uh, have that in common up to a point and even modern or no, it’s not that modern parliamentary democracy, as we know it. In some ways we may have to redefine what that means, because it’s all great, you know, for humanity, but perhaps it’s getting more complex for the individual human being.

We need a different way of thinking as to what are the right designs and ideas and interactions between people to, to be successful in life. I have to be successful in our businesses, and it’s not about the big systems. It’s not about the big ideologies. It starts out with an embrace of individual personal growth. And once you take that as a design principles, Siebe, then it changes your ideas to how to design education systems, how to design, modern democratic mechanisms, whatever.

[00:16:00] Siebe Van Der Zee: You raised. Some very, very relevant points. When we look at our future as humanity, how we need to deal with that. And again, when I think of that, we can probably fill a podcast just on that topic. Right. But I like, and I, I can see that the passion that you have and, it is important because it, it requires a lot of work and open thinking, et cetera, et cetera.

[00:16:24] Lesson 5

[00:16:24] Siebe Van Der Zee: It makes me think of lesson number five, already, a passion and basic intelligence goes a long way. Because in, in this process as well, it’s not just with all due respect, reading a book and say, Hmm, that’s interesting.

It requires action and passion to move ahead. Right?

[00:16:43] Bas Boorsma: Completely utterly. Totally. I think this is a truism that’s been true throughout the ages. Take, a person’s passion and take a person’s energy and that will get that person a very long way and things that need to be learned can be learned, can be taught.

Many things can be learned on the job. The difference between let’s say the recent past and a future that we’re heading to. Is that we were able to hold on for a very long time to let’s say the entitlement that comes with a particular education that diplomas being a doctor, being a lawyer. And that was what we, you know, uh, assure us of wealth of recognition in life.

And that is, that is subject to erosion. It’s less about being a great lawyer in, you know, for your entire career. Things around us, again, change. And you may find yourself in a situation where you have to completely reinvent yourself more often than once or twice as often being called out as a good thing to do anyhow.

But with all the changes around us, we do need to, to actually reinvent ourselves pretty quickly. And then to let go of the things that you believed we’re providing you with the certainties in life, but in fact, to rely on your actual passion and the energy that hopefully you have, that will carry you a long way.

And as an employer, that’s what I look for in people. Obviously, you want on their resume, relevant experience. You want that education, but if I see passion and if I see energy, well, boy, these are the right ingredients.

[00:18:25] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah. And I would say many very successful business. People would agree with you that, that energy, the ability to energize people are key elements for success.

And that’s definitely a good point to make we’re talking today with professor Bas Boorsma, chief digital officer with the city of Rotterdam professor at Thunderbird global school of management, and a leading expert in smart city space, sharing his 10 lessons learned

[00:18:52] Lesson 6

[00:18:52] Siebe Van Der Zee: lesson number six, Bas, the profoundness of the current paradigm shift, the network paradigm.

The profoundness of that. That’s obviously related to what we were talking about.

[00:19:04] Bas Boorsma: Absolutely. So, if you look at all the industrial revolutions of the past. There was always an incredible technology that technology first then lands on top of an old world, but slowly but surely it starts to transform the world around you in part, because of the very nature of that technology.

So, take electricity or steam engine, they have profoundly changed the world. The current technologies that we’re dealing with are digital in nature. And if you think digital, if you think internet, it’s about network distributed patterns of being organized, as opposed to the old, centralized ways of being organized as we embrace them during the industrial age.

So, think of how we, befriend. How we learn how we exchange know-how and accumulate know-how. Think of Wikipedia, think of how we be friends on online platforms or how we sell, how we exchange, how we work collaboratively. These things become ever more networked, and they become ever more distributed.

Look at what COVID 19 has done. You know, obviously on the health side, it’s been terrible and continues to be out there. And it’s terrible. However, what it also did is just accelerate the innovation agendas in terms of how we live and work and play and learn to as very significant extent. Um, do even some people say 6, 7, 8 years accelerated thrust into the future, because look at how we now work.

And, you know, we’re all working remotely where we had to embraced smart work. We educate ourselves remotely so you can see how all of this, how the network world, the network paradigm has become very, very influential, uh, how we procure stuff, how we buy things, entertainment, all of this has become distributed.

And this even defines for the very first time in the history of humanity. How we actually frame the city, because what has been urban major centres of trade of education, of cultural exchange, that continues to be the case, but it’s more become more virtual. It gets, you know, well beyond the original physical boundaries of a city.

So yes, the paradigm shift is very, very profound.

[00:21:23] Siebe Van Der Zee: I’m curious on that. And again, there’s a lot to what you just mentioned, but when I think individuals, human beings, connecting globally, agreeing on certain topics that need to be addressed and cooperating together at the same time, when I think of countries and politicians and they have to come to an agreement and we both know how difficult it is for politicians, no matter which country we’re talking about to come to an agreement, individuals, we can move ahead quickly.

Politics countries not so fast. How do you look at that? That dilemma between the individual that says, Hey, we can do this. And again, the structure of our country saying, wait a minute, let’s discuss this first.

[00:22:09] Bas Boorsma: So, you’re hitting a very important point Siebe, I’m intrigued by your question this is a fabulous one.

Look, we need physical realities. We need to be able to touch each other. We need to trust each other. And in part that requires some degree of physical reality. There is and the name escapes me an Israeli professor who said we’re moving into a high-tech feudal era back to the middle ages when it was all about cities, but, well protected, well-guarded with a particular elite, but we’re also a lot of people knew each other in a very close proximity, but with lots of technology to support them. Another way of looking at it, some of the problems that you just articulated are very clearly associated with our nation states.

You know, this, Siebe, if I apply start-up terminology to this, but if the nation state was a new idea, then it wouldn’t survive beyond this proof-of-concept stage. At this particular point in time, it was created to create pension funds, big education systems and collective defences in a time where we actually need less of that.

We need hyper, locally. Reframed what it is that that binds us that brings us together. It’s so much easier to govern a community that is called, say Amsterdam or Phoenix compared to the entire United States of America or Ghana or Indonesia. Uh, these, I think it’s becoming increasingly complex to successfully governed nation states.

And so, yes. So, on the one hand we’ve become borderless networks and the paradigm is provoked the network paradigm. On the other hand, we need to re-centre and re-embrace of, of locality, physical realities, and local trust.

[00:24:00] Siebe Van Der Zee: Good point. Thank you for that.

[00:24:02] Lesson 7

[00:24:02] Siebe Van Der Zee: Lesson number seven, we’re not making it easier here.

The magic of team’s synchronicity. What do you mean with that?

[00:24:09] Bas Boorsma: So, you can have all of the external motivators in place that you want. You can have fat bonuses. You can have people on the mission that even perhaps personally believe in, but if the teams lack synchronicity, it’s just very hard to deliver on it.

And, but if you do have teams synchronicity, then you get to a point where any type of extrinsic motivation, or tools to extrinsic motivation like bonuses get far exceeded by that, by that synchronicity is where one plus one is three, is the actual outcome. And this is a little bit of a no brainer.

This is a lesson learned that visionary, people in in the past have arrived at, but I wanted to point it out because it’s been a consistent lesson in my life. I’ve been in great organizations where all of the conditions were perfect. But if that team synchronicity simply wasn’t there, it’s just very difficult to achieve any realistic, objectives or let alone objectives that will be very ambitious in nature. If you think of the Apollo program, you know, where the president of the United States was out there saying before this decade is out, this country is going to land a man on the moon and get him back safe to earth. You know, the entire country, got to a state of, of team synchronicity, if you will.

And that’s unique, it was difficult to replicate that. Difficult. Even today, people try to touch the magic of that particular enterprise.

[00:25:39] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah, there has to be, a moment there that it all clicks comes together, in a very different way. You can see that in team sports when, or even with individuals, but especially with a team when the whole team has to perform at their highest level.

And, yes, you practice, for weeks, four months, et cetera. But now you got to do it. And, but it’s, it’s a great point. The magic of team synchronicity. I like it.

[00:26:05] Lesson 8

[00:26:05] Siebe Van Der Zee: Moving on, lesson number eight, it’s tough to beat one’s demons, but you can learn to live with. Especially when you discover you are your own worst demon.

Wow. Heavy-duty where does that come from?

[00:26:21] Bas Boorsma: I suppose that we’re all struggling a bit with our own demons and we’re struggling with, others that represent demons, that talk to a particular part in our own lives, in our life stories that we’re still struggling with. And, and typically I’ve come to find out demons are actually indeed tough to defeat. At earlier stages in life. You think you can, you know, you can declare victory by doing something and then declare the demon dead. But very often you find it will resurface in your life.

[00:26:52] Siebe Van Der Zee: It is a demon. Yes.

[00:26:54] Bas Boorsma: Exactly. And you need to make your peace with that demon. You can learn to live with it because you start to know yourself better.

And you start to recognize it. Sometimes even if it’s only on the horizon, you enter yet another phase of your career or your love life or whatever it is. And to suddenly discover there’s that demon again. It can be a person that talks to you on social media and suddenly it, and you, you know, you’re going to interact with that personally.

You’re going to yet again circle back to that lesson that you were going to learn in life. And then yes, you can be your own demon and that demon doesn’t go away either, but you need to do sign your peace with it and possibly take it to the grave with you at one point. It’s an important lesson. I did try to beat them.

For most of them, I, I discovered can’t beat them, but there’s, let’s say an even larger degree of peace that I do have.

[00:27:46] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah, it’s a serious point. And, I think of lessons that I have learned, in the years that I served as honorary console and I dealt with a lot of people in trouble, in difficult positions.

And in some cases, they had, let’s say demons. And even though they were not my own demons, I, I got to understand, and can I say respect what those people went through and having learned lessons, helps me, but it helps also perhaps me to help other people to deal with that. And as we evolve in life and have our own experiences, and this is of course, very much part of the purpose of our podcast.

You want to share that wisdom with others. And, we also have to recognize that, we carry demons ourselves to whatever level and whether we call it the demon or, well, I got weak spots, et cetera, but we deal with that. So, I appreciate you bringing that up in, in all the technology and all the advancement that we’re talking about here today.

 We also deal with the psychological aspects of that. So, I think that’s a, that’s an important point. Thank you for that.

[00:28:58] Lesson 9

[00:28:58] Siebe Van Der Zee: Lesson number nine, almost at 10 lesson number nine. I like it’s the act of walking and the importance of it in your busy lives. I have a thought that comes up when I read that.

But please, what is your thought about the act of walking, and I guess being physically active?

[00:29:13] Bas Boorsma: So, first of all, I think that in our very modern world, uh, we have forgotten the act of doing absolutely nothing. Doing absolutely nothing is a very hard thing to do. You need to be a Tibetan monk, you know, in our perspective to actually arrive at that stage, uh, I do find that there were ages, where humanity was much more used to actually pretty generally do nothing from time to time and people that claim that they do nothing, they don’t know what the act of nothing doing actually is. But there is a great alternative and one of them is the act of walking. Because it gives us a sense of purpose. We’re doing something or walking. But in fact, we free our minds to, to think freely, in a way that we don’t do when we try to do nothing at which again, most of us fail all of the time. And so, I’ve come to discover it, not just by taking a few hikes out there, but one thing that’s been a very, very rich source to me.

Is walking, the ancient Camino de Santiago, the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Northern Spain. That’s 1100 years old. It’s an 800-kilometre walk. If you walk it from the French Spanish border to the city of Santiago de Compostela now, you know, thousands of people walk that every year, but to walk 800 kilometres essentially nonstop with your luggage, you know, taking it all the way.

Believe me, it’s simply the most cleansing, healthy mental exercise. And that’s where you suddenly discover that there were moments that you were apart from the walking, we’re actually doing nothing. And that’s where you get to have insights ideas. At one point beyond that moment of doing nothing that are just totally unique.

And that’s very enriching.

[00:31:01] Siebe Van Der Zee: Perhaps connecting to nature at the same time. Right? I think that can be very reassuring, very peaceful when you’re out hiking, walking, experiencing nature. Uh, and that can be anywhere in the world. I can think of so many places that I have had the fortune to visit like, wow. It brings back special memories.

[00:31:23] Bas Boorsma: The thing is yes, but the thing about the Camino de Santiago is you step into the footsteps of people that have been doing that for 1100 years, their aspirations, their dreams. It makes you, it makes you not smaller, but you know, it makes you reflect on the number of things in it allows you to take things more on a day-to-day basis, which is part of the exercise.

So definitely recommended it.

[00:31:50] Siebe Van Der Zee: Well, and I have to add to that, living here in Arizona with the native American population, 21 tribes in Arizona, their ancient history, their ancient cultures. I know exactly what you’re talking about and for our global audience, I’m sure people can think of places, locations that you and I have never heard of, but are magical to them.

And to experience that to walk through it, be able to be part of that. Very healthy for our mindset.

[00:32:21] Lesson 10

[00:32:21] Siebe Van Der Zee: Lesson number 10, 10th lesson, Bas. And I wanted to say, wow, that’s so nice to use to end this. And you talk about love comes in many colours. That’s lesson number 10. Love comes in many colours.

How nice.

[00:32:36] Bas Boorsma: Thank you Siebe. So, love is a term that gets embraced by many. Uh, and then there are some people that also shy away from that using that term, especially within a business context, right. Or professional context. However, if you come to realize that that very powerful energy called love comes also in the shape of enthusiasm, passion, the ability to genuinely and passionately listen to someone else.

 All of these things are an act of love and the more you’re able to embrace a stand and embrace of the act of love in your professional life as a leader, the more successful you’re going to be, you know, Siebe, one thing that I, at one point discovered is that all of the management literature can be just thrown out of the window to just make place for an insight like that.

And it sounds so high level. It sounds so vague. It sounds like. Yeah, sure we’ll all still embrace of love, but genuinely, if you just be true on that one. And then then most of the management literature is just pretty much unhelpful to the job at hand that the insight of what love can do for you and all, if it’s colours, it’s just way more insightful and helpful.

[00:33:50] Siebe Van Der Zee: I think it’s a, it’s a beautiful lesson and indeed something that, sometimes I want to say we take for granted.

I got to put you on the spot here because 10 lessons, very interesting. But if you go through your life and your career, has there been anything that you would say that you have un-learned?

[00:34:10] Bas Boorsma: That I have unlearned.

 Can I have unlearned.

[00:34:14] Siebe Van Der Zee: Maybe not.

[00:34:15] Bas Boorsma: So, no, no that there there’s obviously plenty of stuff that I have unlearned. I there’s, there is enough to have unlearned, that is to question myself a little bit less, you know, it’s okay to make mistakes. Uh, it’s okay to be told that you’re just completely wrong and to unlearn the need to be absolutely certain that you’re going in with the right thing. That’s been a comfortable, unlearning for me. That does not mean I can’t strive for perfection. I can, however, the ability to just go in. To dive in to dare make mistakes, is, is very powerful.

Actually, once you are comfortable with being, you know, uncomfortable on that one. You can take a lot of, pride out of that very act of trying, messing up, getting up again. And having another go at it. And so that’s been one particular thing where I have, I’ve unlearned a number of things.

 I’d need more time. Siebe still, um, I need more time to, to think about that particular question, but this is one answer.

[00:35:25] Siebe Van Der Zee: Well, that particular element of your answer, and I appreciate the answer, but you need more time. That means Bas, that we’re going to hopefully talk again in the future, because some of these lessons, I would say deserve more time.

They’re very fascinating, and I really appreciate your participation in this program. And I think it’s a very, very good lesson for people worldwide. So, I want to thank you for sharing your wisdom with us, with our audience, and appreciate your, uh, your thought process here.

[00:35:57] Bas Boorsma: Siebe, thank you very, very much for having me I’m honoured.

It was a pleasure sharing this with you, and I wish you all of the luck with the podcast and absolutely, I do hope to continue the conversation.

[00:36:10] Siebe Van Der Zee: Thank you so much. I’ll make a few closing comments. You’ve been listening to the international podcast 10 Lessons it Took Me 50 Years to Learn produced by Robert Hossary and sponsored by PDF the professional development forum PDF provides webinars, social media discussions, podcast, and parties, and best of all, it’s all for free. For more information, please visit the professionaldevelopmentforum.org. Our guest today was professor Bas Boorsma the chief digital officer of the city of Rotterdam and professor at the Thunderbird school of global management and sharing his 10 lessons that took him 50 years to learn.

To our audience. Don’t forget to leave us a review or a comment. You can also email us at podcast@10lessonslearned.com That is podcast at number 10, one zero lessons learned.com. I say it correctly. Go ahead and hit the subscribe button. So, you don’t miss an episode.

And remember, this is a podcast that makes the world wiser and wiser, podcasts by podcast, lesson by lesson. Thank you. And stay safe.

Bas Boorsma

Bas Boorsma – The Current Paradigm Shift:The Network Paradigm

Bas Boorsma has been specialising in smart cities for over 20 years. He shares with us "The magic of conflict resolution", why we should learn to "Be comfortable with being uncomfortable" and how "Passion and intelligence goes a long way" along with seven other valuable lessons. Hosted by Siebe Van Der Zee.

About Bas Boorsma

Bas Boorsma is a leading urban innovation and digitalization specialist & executive with 20 years of experience in the ‘smart city’ space. Bas serves as the (external) CDO to the City of Rotterdam. In this capacity Bas is lead orchestrator, facilitator and ambassador to the city and its innovation ecosystem. Bas also serves as Professor of Practice at the Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University. Bas is also Vice President EMEA of the Cities Today Institute, and also serves as Chief Innovation Officer at Change, a fast-growing Living as a Service company. He also serves as Member of the Board, at the Smart City Association Italy (TSCAI). Bas is the author of the well acclaimed book “A New Digital Deal”.

Bas served in various global and regional leadership positions at Cisco From 2015 Bas served as Cisco’s Digitization lead for the Northern European region at Cisco. In this capacity he managed a series of city engagements, leading the way on Internet of Things related innovations for, with and in cities.

Episode Notes

Lesson 1: The Magic Of Conflict Resolution. 04m 32s

Lesson 2: Learn To Be Comfortable With Being uncomfortable. 07m 44s

Lesson 3: Social Innovation Can Never Be A Project Run By One Group Of People For The Benefit Of Another. 10m 36s

Lesson 4: How Grand Designs Fail When It Comes To The Betterment Of Citizens. 14m 27s

Lesson 5: Passion And Basic Intelligence Goes A Long Way. 16m 24s

Lesson 6: The Current Paradigm Shift. The Network Paradigm. 18m 52s

Lesson 7: The Magic Of Teams Synchronicity. 24m 02s

Lesson 8: It’s Tough To Beat One’s Demons. 26m 05s

Lesson 9: The Importance Of Walking. 28m 58s

Lesson 10: Love Comes In Many Colours. 32m 21s

Bas Boorsma 10 Lessons

 

[00:00:06] Siebe Van Der Zee: Hello, and welcome to our podcast. 10 Lessons it Took Me 50 Years to Learn. Where we talk to businesspeople, journalists ambassadors, artists, sports, heroes, leaders, and luminaries from all over the world. Our goal is to dispense wisdom for life and for business, and to provide you with shortcuts to excellence.

My name is Siebe Van Der Zee, and I’m your host. I’m originally from the Netherlands happily residing in the beautiful state of Arizona in the United States. Also known as the Dutchman in the desert. I hope you will enjoy this program. This podcast is sponsored by PDF to Professional Development Forum. You can find out more about PDF at professionaldevelopmentforum.org.

Our guest today is Professor Bas Boorsma. Bas Boorsma is the leading urban innovation and digitalization expert. And a corporate executive with 20 years of experience in the so-called smart city space. He recently joined the city of Rotterdam in the Netherlands as the city’s chief digital officer. In this capacity Bas is the lead orchestrator and facilitator through the city of Rotterdam and its innovation ecosystem.

Now keep in mind, Rotterdam is the biggest Harbor in Europe. In other words, this is a massive undertaking. Bas also serves as professor of practice at my alma mater the Thunderbird school of global management at Arizona state university in Arizona. And he is the author of a well acclaimed book named the new digital deal. Earlier in his career, Bas served in various global and regional leadership positions at Cisco for several years, he served as Cisco digitization lead for the Northern European region. In this capacity, he led the way on the internet of things related innovations for, with an in cities. All of this, with the ultimate goal of creating smart cities.

Welcome Bas, thank you so much for joining us.

[00:02:06] Bas Boorsma: Thank you for having me, Siebe.

[00:02:08] Siebe Van Der Zee: It’s great to have you on our program. And, uh, of course, we’re going to listen to your 10 lessons. I’m also curious just for our global audience, what makes a city or a region, a smart city?

[00:02:21] Bas Boorsma: Well, that’s a very tough question, uh, term smart city’s been around for roughly two decades and it’s come to mean so many different things.

Siebe, I always like to joke that, I no longer know what a smart city actually is. But obviously it’s got a lot to do with technology, digital technologies that have entered our lives and have made a significant impact on our cities. But up to a point, digital technologies have come to stress a little bit too much.

And in the end, it’s about how do we innovate in order to ensure that our cities are going to be successful, liveable, and sustainable in the 21st century. And obviously that comes with a lot of innovations and a lot of technology.

[00:03:05] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah. There there’s a lot involved, and I know we will address some of that in the 10 lessons that you’re going to discuss, but I’m also curious Bas.

in your career and in your life, you have experienced so many different things, as I know. But is there a first lesson or a greatest lesson in life that you have learned that you want to share with the audience?

[00:03:27] Bas Boorsma: Well, that’s lesson zero, I suppose then right? So now for me, and I, I can’t say, I mean, perhaps this doesn’t work that way for other people, but for me is to be genuinely honest, to try to be honest to yourself.

First of all, honesty goes a long way. Sometimes it does make things more difficult for yourself, but generally, it helps to clean up and it helps to clarify what you want to achieve. And it helps to clarify the people that you work with, what it is that you’re about and what you want to achieve. Honesty really is probably one of the most important things.

And don’t get drunk on your own Kool-Aid if you’re in marketing, uh, even if you’re very excited about new technology that you’re producing or whatever, you know, get down to earth now and then, and just look in the mirror and, you know, ask yourself the question. Am I 100% honest about what I’m doing?

[00:04:20] Siebe Van Der Zee: I like that. It obviously is a lesson that, I would say most people understand. But there are different definitions of honesty, I think. And, uh, that is something that we have to deal with worldwide.

[00:04:32] Lesson 1

[00:04:32] Siebe Van Der Zee: But let’s move to the first of your 10 lessons. Magic of conflict resolution. And I would say we can all agree. There is way too much conflict in the world. And do you have a solution for us?

[00:04:47] Bas Boorsma: Siebe, let me tell you a story. One of my first professional jobs in my career was to be part of United Nations peacekeeping operation in Cambodia, an incredibly traumatized country that wasn’t a civil war forever. The contemporary comparison would potentially be Afghanistan, which we left again to its own devices. And that’s, you know, it’s been a painful chapter, same for Cambodia, going through war genocide and the United Nations quite rightfully entered. Commenced this peacekeeping operation.

I became part of that peace keeping operation. And I became, because I was kind of a specialist in Cambodia. I focused on it in my studies, and I became an advisor to the peacekeeping troops on the Dutch side, there was a large Dutch contingent of Marines air force, regular ground forces and, what I discovered, what was really intriguing to me is.

How much conflict can be resolved if you actually look at the hyper-local interests, things that really relate to people in their direct lives. So very often we have conflicts about very abstract things, ideologies, um, particular perspectives, which are political or religious or, very abstract in nature.

But one of the things which really helps to counter a major conflict in various provinces in Cambodia is actually listening to what people were all about. Their day-to-day conflicts and their day-to-day concerns, their day-to-day challenges like the rice harvest, not being very optimal in many ways, for instance.

And what it allowed the Dutch contingent to do is to make hyperlocal deals. If you want this, and this is your concern. Then you can swap, you can go into your each other’s territory. You can visit family that you haven’t seen for years, but we ask from you a price is that you bring a gun and, you know, hand it in.

And it was successful. They just specified the entire province for like a very long time, as long as they were there. And, and it was such an incredible insight at that point. Like if you truly listen, and if you listen to the genuine interests that people have that have the move. That is just very powerful and that can actually allow you to mitigate any type of conflict or many conflicts that you may face.

[00:07:09] Siebe Van Der Zee: My first thought is thank you for your service. It is amazing how many people are investing their lives and risking their lives sometimes on these types of missions, but at the same time, The lesson that you just mentioned is very powerful. And I, I would imagine that you carry that with you, for the rest of your life.

[00:07:29] Bas Boorsma: It does, it does as is the entire Cambodia experience because it’s after, after the entire trip that you start to realize what you’ve gone through and what was challenging about it. And that also stayed with me for the, my entire life.

[00:07:44] Lesson 2

[00:07:44] Siebe Van Der Zee: Well, lesson number two, perhaps a good follow-up, learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.

[00:07:50] Bas Boorsma: Certainly, that did get started in Cambodia, for sure. You have to be comfortable in being uncomfortable. But that lesson really extended throughout my life. And I think currently Siebe, we’re living in an age where we see a major paradigm shift happened. The world around us is changing much more than saying the early nineties when I served in Cambodia. We are, we’re getting digitalized and things around us become more networks.

The old industrial age paradigm is going out the window and you know what, Siebe? There is another kind of side lesson to that. Uh, but it doesn’t come from me, but I digest it and I can reproduce it, which is this when you’re living a major shift, like an industrial revolution type of shift, the past stops being a source of guidance for the present and future, which means that all the things that you could hold on to us in terms of certainties things that were relevant to you that were told to you may not be as relevant to guide you through the present and future.

And with that comes a level of discomfort. And this is something that all of us young and old we need to be, to grow comfortable with. We need to grow. We need to learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.

[00:09:06] Siebe Van Der Zee: How do you manage that? Because that’s a great point. And of course, we like to hold on to what we think is well, this is the way we have done it. Why should we change it?

[00:09:15] Bas Boorsma: Absolutely. I think that there is no direct guidance on it, except learn from others that have proved to be pretty resilient in life. Uh, and, and what resilience means to you? How can you guide yourself back to a certain level of comfort if you will, and, but also try to be excited about what’s unexpected ahead of you, to not look at the future as a threat, but to look at it as that vast arena of opportunities for yourself personally, also. And to just, embrace that promise that with change, uh, indeed use them to benefit. And you also tend to learn a lot from all of that change, uh, to live a life that’s almost identical to the circumstances of your parents is just in my perspective, like quite a bit more boring.

So just be excited about what’s ahead of you, while you live in times of such incredible change.

[00:10:08] Siebe Van Der Zee: It’s an interesting point. And again, I’m tempted. Add to it. Because it’s, it’s of course tough people that are in their mindsets, stuck in the present, not even in the past.

Yes. Learn from others as you suggest makes a lot of sense, but are people willing to learn? Are people willing to open themselves up? Because there is a level of perhaps security in sticking to the present and the past.

[00:10:36] Lesson 3

[00:10:36] Siebe Van Der Zee: Anyway, we’ll move on to the third lesson. There’s some great stuff in here.

Lesson number three, social innovation can never be a project run by one group of people for the benefit of another. Why not?

[00:10:51] Bas Boorsma: So, look, first of all, let me say that I stole that line with pride. Uh, it was the opening line in a book, and apparently it came out of the Israeli judiciary. And I can imagine why it originated in that particular country, given the fact how they have to deal with different cultures. Try to maintain some type of peace, several peoples in one country and trying to maintain all of that.

But in terms of my own learnings, what I have reasonably experienced in, let’s say the innovation space, urban innovation space, smart city space is you try to build stuff for people. There is like this great smart parking app. Wow, cool. Why wouldn’t anyone embrace that? To only find out that this is truly something that people do not want.

It hasn’t been discovered by them. It hasn’t been invented by them. It doesn’t really match the hyper-local needs of the people that you’re dealing with. And so, it doesn’t work. Had you, however, brought those same people into your design room, then in fact, that’s smart parking app might have worked. I mean, I don’t like smart parking as an example, but, you know, it just popped up in my mind as an example, I suppose. So, there you go. You have to actually work with the people that you try to innovate things for. So, if you’re an innovation leader or you occupy some type of space in a company or a government entity or, or a school where you’re going to address innovation and you want to bring people along, then do exactly that.

Bring them along for the journey. If those people are geographically, remote from where you are. A little piece of advice, go to where people are because you’re going to learn. You can only innovate together with people. You cannot innovate for them. And especially when it concerns social innovation, not just basic technology, but socially innovation.

When there’s behaviour change involved, that’s the point where you actually really need to reconsider how you innovate and, are you doing it with people or for them?

[00:12:52] Siebe Van Der Zee: I imagine that when you think about the concept of smart cities around the world, that there are cities and regions that are more proactive and saying, we not only have to talk about it and think about it, but we have to apply, and we have to implement.

And, you have obviously a global knowledge, but do you think we are on track? Is this something that society is buying into and this type of social innovation?

[00:13:22] Bas Boorsma: Well, we have to, we have to, because the world is facing such an incredible shift at the old designs of as to how we manage organizations, how we manage government, how we, run the elections.

 All of that is kind of getting beyond its expiry date. And, and what you just mentioned just now is completely true. There are a lot of people out of their comfort zones, and they may want to hold on to the past. However, you know, decide for yourself at what side of the paradigm shift you want to stand it, you know, the wrong site, which is the past or the future.

And, and I think there are so many people that are ready to lead to step forward into the future, realize that the old ways of designing stuff, top down, managing people top down, all of that is working less and less, and there is a more networked collaborative way of arriving at whatever it is that we need to have built achieve.

And so, yes, this lesson is being learned. It is being embraced, but it’s taking a generation.

[00:14:27] Lesson 4

[00:14:27] Siebe Van Der Zee: It goes to this lesson that goes in a way into lesson number four, right. It overlaps how grand designs fail when it comes to the betterment of citizens, humanity, and how that applies to smart cities as well.

[00:14:40] Bas Boorsma: So, In some ways, I mean, this particular person needed to backtrack on his own statement in the nineties, Francis Fukuyama said there was an end of history because in some ways there was the big ideologies of the 20th century and it spelled out what history was all about, especially in that century. Take a big idea. Like socialism. Socialism is very good at defining what’s good for humanity, but they’re actually pretty awful. And the ideology is pretty awful about the finding. What’s good for a human being. And I think the big ideologies, uh, have that in common up to a point and even modern or no, it’s not that modern parliamentary democracy, as we know it. In some ways we may have to redefine what that means, because it’s all great, you know, for humanity, but perhaps it’s getting more complex for the individual human being.

We need a different way of thinking as to what are the right designs and ideas and interactions between people to, to be successful in life. I have to be successful in our businesses, and it’s not about the big systems. It’s not about the big ideologies. It starts out with an embrace of individual personal growth. And once you take that as a design principles, Siebe, then it changes your ideas to how to design education systems, how to design, modern democratic mechanisms, whatever.

[00:16:00] Siebe Van Der Zee: You raised. Some very, very relevant points. When we look at our future as humanity, how we need to deal with that. And again, when I think of that, we can probably fill a podcast just on that topic. Right. But I like, and I, I can see that the passion that you have and, it is important because it, it requires a lot of work and open thinking, et cetera, et cetera.

[00:16:24] Lesson 5

[00:16:24] Siebe Van Der Zee: It makes me think of lesson number five, already, a passion and basic intelligence goes a long way. Because in, in this process as well, it’s not just with all due respect, reading a book and say, Hmm, that’s interesting.

It requires action and passion to move ahead. Right?

[00:16:43] Bas Boorsma: Completely utterly. Totally. I think this is a truism that’s been true throughout the ages. Take, a person’s passion and take a person’s energy and that will get that person a very long way and things that need to be learned can be learned, can be taught.

Many things can be learned on the job. The difference between let’s say the recent past and a future that we’re heading to. Is that we were able to hold on for a very long time to let’s say the entitlement that comes with a particular education that diplomas being a doctor, being a lawyer. And that was what we, you know, uh, assure us of wealth of recognition in life.

And that is, that is subject to erosion. It’s less about being a great lawyer in, you know, for your entire career. Things around us, again, change. And you may find yourself in a situation where you have to completely reinvent yourself more often than once or twice as often being called out as a good thing to do anyhow.

But with all the changes around us, we do need to, to actually reinvent ourselves pretty quickly. And then to let go of the things that you believed we’re providing you with the certainties in life, but in fact, to rely on your actual passion and the energy that hopefully you have, that will carry you a long way.

And as an employer, that’s what I look for in people. Obviously, you want on their resume, relevant experience. You want that education, but if I see passion and if I see energy, well, boy, these are the right ingredients.

[00:18:25] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah. And I would say many very successful business. People would agree with you that, that energy, the ability to energize people are key elements for success.

And that’s definitely a good point to make we’re talking today with professor Bas Boorsma, chief digital officer with the city of Rotterdam professor at Thunderbird global school of management, and a leading expert in smart city space, sharing his 10 lessons learned

[00:18:52] Lesson 6

[00:18:52] Siebe Van Der Zee: lesson number six, Bas, the profoundness of the current paradigm shift, the network paradigm.

The profoundness of that. That’s obviously related to what we were talking about.

[00:19:04] Bas Boorsma: Absolutely. So, if you look at all the industrial revolutions of the past. There was always an incredible technology that technology first then lands on top of an old world, but slowly but surely it starts to transform the world around you in part, because of the very nature of that technology.

So, take electricity or steam engine, they have profoundly changed the world. The current technologies that we’re dealing with are digital in nature. And if you think digital, if you think internet, it’s about network distributed patterns of being organized, as opposed to the old, centralized ways of being organized as we embrace them during the industrial age.

So, think of how we, befriend. How we learn how we exchange know-how and accumulate know-how. Think of Wikipedia, think of how we be friends on online platforms or how we sell, how we exchange, how we work collaboratively. These things become ever more networked, and they become ever more distributed.

Look at what COVID 19 has done. You know, obviously on the health side, it’s been terrible and continues to be out there. And it’s terrible. However, what it also did is just accelerate the innovation agendas in terms of how we live and work and play and learn to as very significant extent. Um, do even some people say 6, 7, 8 years accelerated thrust into the future, because look at how we now work.

And, you know, we’re all working remotely where we had to embraced smart work. We educate ourselves remotely so you can see how all of this, how the network world, the network paradigm has become very, very influential, uh, how we procure stuff, how we buy things, entertainment, all of this has become distributed.

And this even defines for the very first time in the history of humanity. How we actually frame the city, because what has been urban major centres of trade of education, of cultural exchange, that continues to be the case, but it’s more become more virtual. It gets, you know, well beyond the original physical boundaries of a city.

So yes, the paradigm shift is very, very profound.

[00:21:23] Siebe Van Der Zee: I’m curious on that. And again, there’s a lot to what you just mentioned, but when I think individuals, human beings, connecting globally, agreeing on certain topics that need to be addressed and cooperating together at the same time, when I think of countries and politicians and they have to come to an agreement and we both know how difficult it is for politicians, no matter which country we’re talking about to come to an agreement, individuals, we can move ahead quickly.

Politics countries not so fast. How do you look at that? That dilemma between the individual that says, Hey, we can do this. And again, the structure of our country saying, wait a minute, let’s discuss this first.

[00:22:09] Bas Boorsma: So, you’re hitting a very important point Siebe, I’m intrigued by your question this is a fabulous one.

Look, we need physical realities. We need to be able to touch each other. We need to trust each other. And in part that requires some degree of physical reality. There is and the name escapes me an Israeli professor who said we’re moving into a high-tech feudal era back to the middle ages when it was all about cities, but, well protected, well-guarded with a particular elite, but we’re also a lot of people knew each other in a very close proximity, but with lots of technology to support them. Another way of looking at it, some of the problems that you just articulated are very clearly associated with our nation states.

You know, this, Siebe, if I apply start-up terminology to this, but if the nation state was a new idea, then it wouldn’t survive beyond this proof-of-concept stage. At this particular point in time, it was created to create pension funds, big education systems and collective defences in a time where we actually need less of that.

We need hyper, locally. Reframed what it is that that binds us that brings us together. It’s so much easier to govern a community that is called, say Amsterdam or Phoenix compared to the entire United States of America or Ghana or Indonesia. Uh, these, I think it’s becoming increasingly complex to successfully governed nation states.

And so, yes. So, on the one hand we’ve become borderless networks and the paradigm is provoked the network paradigm. On the other hand, we need to re-centre and re-embrace of, of locality, physical realities, and local trust.

[00:24:00] Siebe Van Der Zee: Good point. Thank you for that.

[00:24:02] Lesson 7

[00:24:02] Siebe Van Der Zee: Lesson number seven, we’re not making it easier here.

The magic of team’s synchronicity. What do you mean with that?

[00:24:09] Bas Boorsma: So, you can have all of the external motivators in place that you want. You can have fat bonuses. You can have people on the mission that even perhaps personally believe in, but if the teams lack synchronicity, it’s just very hard to deliver on it.

And, but if you do have teams synchronicity, then you get to a point where any type of extrinsic motivation, or tools to extrinsic motivation like bonuses get far exceeded by that, by that synchronicity is where one plus one is three, is the actual outcome. And this is a little bit of a no brainer.

This is a lesson learned that visionary, people in in the past have arrived at, but I wanted to point it out because it’s been a consistent lesson in my life. I’ve been in great organizations where all of the conditions were perfect. But if that team synchronicity simply wasn’t there, it’s just very difficult to achieve any realistic, objectives or let alone objectives that will be very ambitious in nature. If you think of the Apollo program, you know, where the president of the United States was out there saying before this decade is out, this country is going to land a man on the moon and get him back safe to earth. You know, the entire country, got to a state of, of team synchronicity, if you will.

And that’s unique, it was difficult to replicate that. Difficult. Even today, people try to touch the magic of that particular enterprise.

[00:25:39] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah, there has to be, a moment there that it all clicks comes together, in a very different way. You can see that in team sports when, or even with individuals, but especially with a team when the whole team has to perform at their highest level.

And, yes, you practice, for weeks, four months, et cetera. But now you got to do it. And, but it’s, it’s a great point. The magic of team synchronicity. I like it.

[00:26:05] Lesson 8

[00:26:05] Siebe Van Der Zee: Moving on, lesson number eight, it’s tough to beat one’s demons, but you can learn to live with. Especially when you discover you are your own worst demon.

Wow. Heavy-duty where does that come from?

[00:26:21] Bas Boorsma: I suppose that we’re all struggling a bit with our own demons and we’re struggling with, others that represent demons, that talk to a particular part in our own lives, in our life stories that we’re still struggling with. And, and typically I’ve come to find out demons are actually indeed tough to defeat. At earlier stages in life. You think you can, you know, you can declare victory by doing something and then declare the demon dead. But very often you find it will resurface in your life.

[00:26:52] Siebe Van Der Zee: It is a demon. Yes.

[00:26:54] Bas Boorsma: Exactly. And you need to make your peace with that demon. You can learn to live with it because you start to know yourself better.

And you start to recognize it. Sometimes even if it’s only on the horizon, you enter yet another phase of your career or your love life or whatever it is. And to suddenly discover there’s that demon again. It can be a person that talks to you on social media and suddenly it, and you, you know, you’re going to interact with that personally.

You’re going to yet again circle back to that lesson that you were going to learn in life. And then yes, you can be your own demon and that demon doesn’t go away either, but you need to do sign your peace with it and possibly take it to the grave with you at one point. It’s an important lesson. I did try to beat them.

For most of them, I, I discovered can’t beat them, but there’s, let’s say an even larger degree of peace that I do have.

[00:27:46] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah, it’s a serious point. And, I think of lessons that I have learned, in the years that I served as honorary console and I dealt with a lot of people in trouble, in difficult positions.

And in some cases, they had, let’s say demons. And even though they were not my own demons, I, I got to understand, and can I say respect what those people went through and having learned lessons, helps me, but it helps also perhaps me to help other people to deal with that. And as we evolve in life and have our own experiences, and this is of course, very much part of the purpose of our podcast.

You want to share that wisdom with others. And, we also have to recognize that, we carry demons ourselves to whatever level and whether we call it the demon or, well, I got weak spots, et cetera, but we deal with that. So, I appreciate you bringing that up in, in all the technology and all the advancement that we’re talking about here today.

 We also deal with the psychological aspects of that. So, I think that’s a, that’s an important point. Thank you for that.

[00:28:58] Lesson 9

[00:28:58] Siebe Van Der Zee: Lesson number nine, almost at 10 lesson number nine. I like it’s the act of walking and the importance of it in your busy lives. I have a thought that comes up when I read that.

But please, what is your thought about the act of walking, and I guess being physically active?

[00:29:13] Bas Boorsma: So, first of all, I think that in our very modern world, uh, we have forgotten the act of doing absolutely nothing. Doing absolutely nothing is a very hard thing to do. You need to be a Tibetan monk, you know, in our perspective to actually arrive at that stage, uh, I do find that there were ages, where humanity was much more used to actually pretty generally do nothing from time to time and people that claim that they do nothing, they don’t know what the act of nothing doing actually is. But there is a great alternative and one of them is the act of walking. Because it gives us a sense of purpose. We’re doing something or walking. But in fact, we free our minds to, to think freely, in a way that we don’t do when we try to do nothing at which again, most of us fail all of the time. And so, I’ve come to discover it, not just by taking a few hikes out there, but one thing that’s been a very, very rich source to me.

Is walking, the ancient Camino de Santiago, the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Northern Spain. That’s 1100 years old. It’s an 800-kilometre walk. If you walk it from the French Spanish border to the city of Santiago de Compostela now, you know, thousands of people walk that every year, but to walk 800 kilometres essentially nonstop with your luggage, you know, taking it all the way.

Believe me, it’s simply the most cleansing, healthy mental exercise. And that’s where you suddenly discover that there were moments that you were apart from the walking, we’re actually doing nothing. And that’s where you get to have insights ideas. At one point beyond that moment of doing nothing that are just totally unique.

And that’s very enriching.

[00:31:01] Siebe Van Der Zee: Perhaps connecting to nature at the same time. Right? I think that can be very reassuring, very peaceful when you’re out hiking, walking, experiencing nature. Uh, and that can be anywhere in the world. I can think of so many places that I have had the fortune to visit like, wow. It brings back special memories.

[00:31:23] Bas Boorsma: The thing is yes, but the thing about the Camino de Santiago is you step into the footsteps of people that have been doing that for 1100 years, their aspirations, their dreams. It makes you, it makes you not smaller, but you know, it makes you reflect on the number of things in it allows you to take things more on a day-to-day basis, which is part of the exercise.

So definitely recommended it.

[00:31:50] Siebe Van Der Zee: Well, and I have to add to that, living here in Arizona with the native American population, 21 tribes in Arizona, their ancient history, their ancient cultures. I know exactly what you’re talking about and for our global audience, I’m sure people can think of places, locations that you and I have never heard of, but are magical to them.

And to experience that to walk through it, be able to be part of that. Very healthy for our mindset.

[00:32:21] Lesson 10

[00:32:21] Siebe Van Der Zee: Lesson number 10, 10th lesson, Bas. And I wanted to say, wow, that’s so nice to use to end this. And you talk about love comes in many colours. That’s lesson number 10. Love comes in many colours.

How nice.

[00:32:36] Bas Boorsma: Thank you Siebe. So, love is a term that gets embraced by many. Uh, and then there are some people that also shy away from that using that term, especially within a business context, right. Or professional context. However, if you come to realize that that very powerful energy called love comes also in the shape of enthusiasm, passion, the ability to genuinely and passionately listen to someone else.

 All of these things are an act of love and the more you’re able to embrace a stand and embrace of the act of love in your professional life as a leader, the more successful you’re going to be, you know, Siebe, one thing that I, at one point discovered is that all of the management literature can be just thrown out of the window to just make place for an insight like that.

And it sounds so high level. It sounds so vague. It sounds like. Yeah, sure we’ll all still embrace of love, but genuinely, if you just be true on that one. And then then most of the management literature is just pretty much unhelpful to the job at hand that the insight of what love can do for you and all, if it’s colours, it’s just way more insightful and helpful.

[00:33:50] Siebe Van Der Zee: I think it’s a, it’s a beautiful lesson and indeed something that, sometimes I want to say we take for granted.

I got to put you on the spot here because 10 lessons, very interesting. But if you go through your life and your career, has there been anything that you would say that you have un-learned?

[00:34:10] Bas Boorsma: That I have unlearned.

 Can I have unlearned.

[00:34:14] Siebe Van Der Zee: Maybe not.

[00:34:15] Bas Boorsma: So, no, no that there there’s obviously plenty of stuff that I have unlearned. I there’s, there is enough to have unlearned, that is to question myself a little bit less, you know, it’s okay to make mistakes. Uh, it’s okay to be told that you’re just completely wrong and to unlearn the need to be absolutely certain that you’re going in with the right thing. That’s been a comfortable, unlearning for me. That does not mean I can’t strive for perfection. I can, however, the ability to just go in. To dive in to dare make mistakes, is, is very powerful.

Actually, once you are comfortable with being, you know, uncomfortable on that one. You can take a lot of, pride out of that very act of trying, messing up, getting up again. And having another go at it. And so that’s been one particular thing where I have, I’ve unlearned a number of things.

 I’d need more time. Siebe still, um, I need more time to, to think about that particular question, but this is one answer.

[00:35:25] Siebe Van Der Zee: Well, that particular element of your answer, and I appreciate the answer, but you need more time. That means Bas, that we’re going to hopefully talk again in the future, because some of these lessons, I would say deserve more time.

They’re very fascinating, and I really appreciate your participation in this program. And I think it’s a very, very good lesson for people worldwide. So, I want to thank you for sharing your wisdom with us, with our audience, and appreciate your, uh, your thought process here.

[00:35:57] Bas Boorsma: Siebe, thank you very, very much for having me I’m honoured.

It was a pleasure sharing this with you, and I wish you all of the luck with the podcast and absolutely, I do hope to continue the conversation.

[00:36:10] Siebe Van Der Zee: Thank you so much. I’ll make a few closing comments. You’ve been listening to the international podcast 10 Lessons it Took Me 50 Years to Learn produced by Robert Hossary and sponsored by PDF the professional development forum PDF provides webinars, social media discussions, podcast, and parties, and best of all, it’s all for free. For more information, please visit the professionaldevelopmentforum.org. Our guest today was professor Bas Boorsma the chief digital officer of the city of Rotterdam and professor at the Thunderbird school of global management and sharing his 10 lessons that took him 50 years to learn.

To our audience. Don’t forget to leave us a review or a comment. You can also email us at podcast@10lessonslearned.com That is podcast at number 10, one zero lessons learned.com. I say it correctly. Go ahead and hit the subscribe button. So, you don’t miss an episode.

And remember, this is a podcast that makes the world wiser and wiser, podcasts by podcast, lesson by lesson. Thank you. And stay safe.

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