Last time I was in Cape Town, South Africa, I sold treadmill desks, gave physical education on a high school in an area I was told not to go, and hiked up three mountains in one day for charity, collecting 2000,- euro in the process…
I also got invited by the Dutch Consulate General for a cup of coffee. She asked me to help execute and idea to connect five Dutch entrepreneurs to five startups in Cape Town. The goal: Share ideas and knowledge, and work on five (local) business challenges for 10 days.
And so I did, while staying in the private residence of the Consul General for three days, taking couchsurfing up a level.
Two months ago, while I was at home on a forced break because of heart issues, I got asked if I wanted to return to Cape Town to be in on the project. Some opportunities don’t need long consideration — I love Cape Town, and experiment 13 was born.
Can we hack the future of work?
On 9 August I boarded an airplane with four other Dutch entrepreneurs for the first official #cocreate2Accelerate.
I partnered up with &Innovation. A company founded by Paul and Nevo. They help larger organizations get their business model ready for the future. Because with everything changing, how do you keep adding value and stay relevant to your clients?
Working with these larger scale organizations, they noticed something: the way people within the companies collaborate isn’t always that effective. Maybe conference calls have replaced meetings, they still retain the same old cultural hang-ups, like printing out emails. And most often the key to change, is not technology, but human team and company dynamics.
An idea was born: if it’s about people, (how) can we hack company culture and set the first steps towards the future of work?
For 10 days we wrapped our heads around this question and got something to show for in the end: The Culture Canvas:
For me, there were some interesting observations
#1 “What will you do after Cape Town?”
I got asked many times. “I don’t know yet”, was my default answer. And that got me a lot of weird faces. People get it —don’t plan too much— but they don’t really. To be honest, it’s scary for me every single time. We crave a form of certainty. But by resisting the temptation to plan the next time, it makes room for opportunities to come by. In this case, me, Paul and Nevo of &Innovation had a great connection. That’s why we’ve decided to partner up and bring The Culture Canvas to market accompanied by an e-book: my next experiment. Something I had to say ‘no’ to, if something else had already been planned.
#2 “I love being on the road, going places”
“Will you stay for another month?” The question got asked straight up. From one man to another. I was overwhelmed, but stumbled … No.
Why? Out of self protection. I love (seriously, LOVE!!) Cape Town, but there are so many other places I haven’t been to yet. After being sick for two months and now being back on the road again, I realized this is what I want to do. I want to go places. It’s not the right time to settle somewhere just yet. And the partnership with &Innovation doesn’t require me to be in a specific place all the time.
#3 “You’re the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with”
Again, just like in my earlier travels, I realized: it’s all about the people you meet. An idea can be exciting, a country stunningly beautiful, and the weather amazing, it doesn’t matter much if you’re not with the right people.
The Dutch team of entrepreneurs couldn’t have been better, so Esther, Jan-Henk, Jabbo and Anke, thank you for saying yes to this challenge. And Martijn and Kim, it was really cool that you were there as well. I’ll remember the morning mountain hikes, the (surf)board meetings, the sunsets, and all the great talks and laughs we had. Thank you!
The team at the Consulate, Bonnie, Thessa, Chantal, Bas, Justin, Emilie, Micheline and Steven, you guys rock! Seriously. Thank you so much for making all of this possible in the first place, and making it happen second. An idea is nothing without execution!
&Innovation, Paul, Nevo, Joran, Geoff, Jess and Sean thank you for making me feel at home. And I look forward to working with all of you in the future!
And a big thank you to the other South African companies as well. Thank you for being so open minded, taking us in, taking care of us and showing us around. I’m proud to say I’ve made friends for a lifetime.
Oh, and Cape Town, **Enter Arnold Schwarzenegger-mode** I’ll be back! **Exit Arnold Schwarzenegger-mode**
I originally planned to write about the results of the other challenges as well, but it turned out to be a more personal update than I expected. If you’re curious what the others did, check out their websites:
Esther Jacobs partnered with Retro Epic, and wrote a blog with 7 tips for more effective meetings
Jabbo Smulders brought a camera and drone and made a daily vlog you can check out here.
Jan-Henk Bouman partnered with Green Fingers Mobile and his bringing his challenge to The Netherlands!
Anke Kuipers partnered with Sea Monster and gave a talk about her lessons learned at Startup Grind
And see the blog on www.cocreateSA.co.za with all the results of the challenges.