Harry Starren

The fringe is the core of what’s coming

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Don’t seal it off from everything! The same applies to art. Hamlet is still being performed because the play is still ambiguous. If there were ever a successful attempt to pin it down definitively, it would be over. The same holds true for vision and for people; they need to be clear and unclear at the same time. The leader is a visionary, but what did he say exactly? That’s the key.’

Interview: Koos de Wilt

I’m primarily literary. As a child, I lived and breathed the Kameleon and Arendsoog series obsessively; I went to the library first thing in the morning, and came back in the afternoon to borrow new books. Books are for browsing and for turning into collages, creating connections between unconnected elements. I did that back at college and I do it now at De Baak. Others perceive it as a strikingly broad scope that offers meaning and significance, but for me it’s more about warding off boredom; it keeps me off the streets. My journalistic outlook on life seeks out depth within that broad scope. I love leaps from one point to the next. Give me private domains, journals, columns and essays. I love aphorisms, sayings, highlights of a novel. Biographies also offer that scope, providing insights – more so than monographs that delve into a single topic. Maybe I’m an immature reader looking for my own reflection. I have to be able to see myself in the story. It’s always about neurotic characters in the role of the protagonist. Saul Bellows or A.F.Th. van der Heijden write novels colored by an autobiographical undertone, rather than books based entirely on imagination, as Marquez did in 100 Years of Solitude. That’s too fantastical for me. What I read should say something about me.

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The line and the circle

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Beyond the goal lies the destination. The beginning lies near the end.

– Lu Tzu –

An organization needs to stay open, even if the instinctive response to impending jeopardy would be to turn inward and close off from the outside world. A person who has the courage to be vulnerable is powerful. Open in the midst of change. That takes character (from ” Why the reed beats the oak”) Continue reading

Growth in Asia

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Developments in world-class cities like Shanghai and Singapore seem to move faster than the speed of sound. Willie Yeo from Human Insight and Harry Starren from De Baak share their international observations with managers and entrepreneurs who want to refine their commercial mindset and expand their horizons.

 Growth in Asia

Harry Starren, managing director of De Baak management center and training institute, asks those present to take a moment of silence to contemplate: what part of this has value for me? He is referring to the information on economic trends in Shanghai and Singapore that Willie Yeo, managing director of Human Insight, just shared with the managers and entrepreneurs during the first hour.
Even that question as such expresses what De Baak represents. De Baak is the definitive source for leaders, entrepreneurs and professionals seeking inspiration, motivation, knowledge and insight. It is also a place filled with paradoxes. De Baak offers the peace and quiet to stand still and reflect on yourself and your surroundings, but at the same time it is a lively, vibrant setting where something is happening around every corner. De Baak teaches you how to learn, a skill that will last you a lifetime. It offers short seminars and long programs, catering to groups of all sizes as well as individuals – and courses tailored to individual needs are also provided. Continue reading

De rand is de kern van wat gaat komen

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‘Maak het niet hermetisch dicht! Dat geldt ook voor de kunst. Hamlet wordt nog steeds opgevoerd omdat het stuk nog steeds ambigu is. Als de poging zou lukken het definitief te maken, dan is het voorbij. Dat is met visie en personen ook zo. Die moeten helder zijn en ook onhelder. De leider is visionair, maar wat heeft hij nou gezegd? Daar ligt de truc.’ Interview: Koos de Wilt

Ik ben primair literair ingesteld. Ik vrat als kind obsessief de Kameleon- en Arendsoogseries en ging ’s ochtends vroeg naar de bibliotheek om ’s middags laat weer nieuwe boeken te halen. Boeken zijn om in te grasduinen en om er collages van te maken, om te verbinden wat niet verbonden is. Dat deed ik vroeger toen ik nog student was en dat doe ik nu bij De Baak. Continue reading

Analyzing the walnut, by Harry Starren

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We learn by making distinctions. When using our analytical skills and while we’re making distinctions, we learn and we lose. Taking things apart surely creates insight. Children take things apart all the time… and, so, these little monsters learn. They learn with the clock they’ve gotten as a present or with the wallpaper on their bedroom wall or with model cars. Analytical skills are built by demolishing. It’s the irony of the learning process. Destruction is deconstruction. Taking things apart. Continue reading

Books for bosses

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What do six management books teach us about the current trends and fashions in management? A conversation with Harry Starren, Managing Director of De Baak, school for managers and monkeys.

Text: Gijsbert van Es; Illustrations: Rhonald Blommestijn

An amusing pastime: predicting the winner. Who will win the World Cup? (The Netherlands misses out yet again…) Who will win the Nobel Prize for Literature? (won’t be Harry Mulisch…) Who will win the AKO Literature Award, or the Libris Award? (Arnon Grunberg again…?)

On the 17th of March the management book of the year 2011 will be announced. Exciting? Not really. The vote, organized by the webstore managementboek.nl, will not be broadcast live on TV, and the authors are not Dutch celebrities. Continue reading

Modern Patronage, Published in Notes 3, 2012, Post Editions Rotterdam,

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If I had to choose between science and art, I’d choose art as being the obviously higher of the two. For me, it’s a personal blend of science, craft and the unique that can only be defined as art. It’s art. I can see that for myself.

Art stands for courage and vulnerability. It makes a statement. It evokes dialogue. Art makes you think. It warns against apathy. What is real? What is true? What do I see? Who am I? What do we perceive? How do we relate to one another?

How can you assert your humanity without it? That’s something I’m sure of, simply because I’m not sure. Continue reading

The Dutch Elite need to innovate

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The Dutch Elite shouldn’t question what’s wrong with the people, because there’s not much wrong there. They should take a more critical look at themselves, because the discontentment that exists has been created largely by the failure of the elite. Particularly because they are not providing their own innovation.

Ruud Lubbers was 33 when he first became a government minister. When you look at the current cabinet, there are hardly any young people who speak the language of the new generations and who understand the signs of the times. Prime Minister Rutte is the height of modernity in the cabinet, but only because he stands out so well against all of that gray. We must be careful that we don’t become a gerontocracy. Continue reading

Open is the hardest thing

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The ability to hold two opposed ideas at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.

– F. Scott Fitzgerald –

Remaining open, especially in the face of jeopardy, is the hardest thing there is. That takes character: Leadership that dares to see both directions/paths and have a credible connection to both.

Everything becomes easier if you create a context in which life is good. That lets you walk comfortably on tiptoes. That’s another way of saying ‘organization’. Atmosphere is everything. When you’re relaxed, you can do anything. That’s why the wise man is smiling.

Copy more from others

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Management guru Harry Starren on creativity:

“Copy more from others”

Businesses are supposed to be more creative than government organizations. “But those impressions are wrong,” says Harry Starren, management guru and director of De Baak Management Center VNO-NCW. “Government organizations are not as bureaucratic as their reputation might imply, and businesses are not as dynamic.” The major cutbacks that social services are now facing may force breakthroughs to happen, in Starren’s opinion – if managers offer enough room for people to experiment. Continue reading