This post is partly in response to a comment on my previous post, partly in response to a conversation I had with a friend about to leave a company she founded and partly because of my own restless mind.


I've been here before. Many times. Looking for what's next. Being restless, need to keep moving. In fact this is part of what makes me what I am... being restless it is deeply ingrained into my DNA. I'm not sure if you can ingrain anything into DNA, but you get my point I'm sure.


In part my need to keep moving is caused by my inability to focus on one thing for very long, getting bored with something after I figured out how it works is a reoccurring event throughout my life.

But I also feel it is simply part of being a creative individual... my interest lies in exploring and creating things, not managing them after I found them or created them. This is why professionally I can only function well in a team with people who are able to pick up where I switch off. These people are a blessing to chaotic creative like me... I’m sure you’ll agree.


But I’m also aware I’m not alone in this. Probably you (yes you) feel the same way and this behavior is a very human behavior. I’m sure many human activities will show similar patterns. But then I’m not about to do any research… (if you have some please do share). Though I think we can see some similarities in falling and staying in love. I’m sure you’ll agree.


And when I decided to start my own company (leaving a company I worked for after 6 years) I wanted to create an environment where we could keep reinventing ourselves. This made business sense: e.g. the world & needs of our clients keeps changing, we advice our clients to be flexible and adaptable… so we should practice what we preach. But we also felt that we need to humanize organizations.

Although we sometimes seem to think companies are about processes, technology and money they really are all about people. Companies should create value for people. They are pretty malicious or at best pointless otherwise. I’m sure you’ll agree.


I think the new generation of people entering companies and trying to climb the corporate ladder will agree more than previous generations. The new generations have a new attitude toward work. Work is no longer about security. It is part of your personal development, your journey. How you make a living is part of your identity.


This changes the relationship between the companies and the people driving them. And an organization is really no more and no less than a group of people working together towards a similar goal. Getting the right people and keeping them is essential to any successful business and exactly this it is getting more difficult. I predict the changing relationship between companies and employees will result in dramatic change in how companies operate. I’m sure you’ll agree.


Relationships need constant attention. Smart companies will need to humanize their organizations. It’s all about love you know. If we don’t love what we do, we will look for something else to do. By continuously reinventing our organizations we all stay explorers, learners, keeping our creative energy high. Human centered companies should create environments where the organization is geared toward facilitating people to grow and flourish. Because love needs care and nurture.

I’m sure you’ll agree.

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Comment by John Woell on July 14, 2014 at 16:55

This post really speaks to me in terms of what creative generalists (I'm trying out the term thanks to you, Arne) find themselves thinking and doing.  In my third year in my first position, I was ready for new challenges and found them within the institution.  By my seventh year, I was ready to look beyond that college, and now I'm feeling the itch yet again.

A college president once told me that he found himself needing to reinvent his approach about every six years.  This seems about right to me, and it fits with the usual academic cycle of sabbaticals every 6 or 7 years for tenured faculty.

I think, though, that what you are expressing is a much more basic human need.  Few of us find ourselves willing to settle in for the long haul any more, and your post expresses what--perhaps--many of us think but few of us actually do.  In the US, today's college graduates will change career fields seven to nine times over the course of their working lives, which translates to roughly once every six or seven years.

You've set up a great organization that will allow you to continue to reinvent yourself and your work for many years to come.  Having benefited greatly form the DT Bootcamp in May, I can see more great things like this coming out of DesignThinkers.  Keep up the innovative work!

Comment by Arne van Oosterom on July 10, 2014 at 19:57

Hi Marc,

I'm proud, but I think that is way too much credit.

I hope to keep creating ways to have a positive impact on peoples lives. And I think we are building something unique.... and we're just going to have so much fun developing this more :-)

I think we are all part of this and equally responsible for  creating and maintaining our growing sandbox. So I thank you for having the faith when you decided to take this leap :-)

Comment by Marc Bolick on July 10, 2014 at 16:49

Arne. I echo what Jane, Joel and James said here. It's great to hear your thoughts on where DesignThinkers is in its evolution, and your personal journey. You should be proud of what you and DT Amsterdam have created. 

The great thing is, this is just the beginning. I see DesignThinkers as a platform, something you guys have built that allows others to make dramatic, positive impacts on people's lives. Something that allows people like me to really reach their potential, find their place, and fulfill their dreams. 

Neat little thing you've done. Thanks for letting us play in your sand box. Let's keep making the sand box bigger!

Comment by Arne van Oosterom on July 10, 2014 at 9:50

@Joel, that doesn't surprise me a bit :-)

@Jane, Thank you for the compliments... that makes me proud.

And no worries! I won't go anywhere. I don't have to leave. I changed my job and focus many times before. So I created DesignThinkers to give me (and my colleagues) freedom. So I wouldn't have to leave, since we are always on the move :-)

Movement is key. It creates an environment where we feed our curiosity and hunger for new things, keeps us learning and meeting new people. It also attracts people. When you create movement you create a magnet for people, specifically to those that want to get unstuck.

A side effect is that I have to fly all over the planet... and that is what is draining me most. But I'm lucky to live in The Netherlands where 3 weeks of summer holiday in France is acceptable behavior and a very common thing to do :-)

Comment by Jane Strange on July 10, 2014 at 6:10

Hi Arne

When I met you earlier this year I was totally blown away by your energy, clarity, optimism and vision. Others talk - you just create and do. You inspired me by your simple recipe about doing what you love with people you love. Your deeply non-corporate structure for the DT network is anarchic, and you know you don't want to work to feed the beast that is traditional business.

With so many people feeding off your (and your co-conspirators) drive it is no wonder you might be feeling a bit drained and restless. I imagine a throng of fans tugging at your robes! My husband and sons are dyslexic too and while it is a wonderful gift it can also be so tiring just to keep up with the requirements of living in a text driven world. It would be a shame for this radical coalition of the willing to become your new beast! Perhaps the breakthrough is to live lightly within a structure that others take more of the burden of designing. Don't leave, just create the headspace to be the disruptor within!


Comment by Joel Van Dyke on July 10, 2014 at 4:11

Arne- we are more alike than I knew before!

Comment by Arne van Oosterom on July 8, 2014 at 21:37

Thanks James :-)

The diagram is a very intuitive one.. obviously not very exact :-) But it seems close to how I experience it. And I learned that if I experience things a certain way, others do to.

I appreciate you compliment very much. I would like to write more, but a fully booked agenda + dyslectic + 2 young children has been a big hurdle. But I will start writing more. Hence this post :-)

Comment by James Rock on July 8, 2014 at 18:52

Its a very good post Arne, you write very well and should try to do it more.

You make a good job of re-inventing and staying fresh at DesignThinkers and I'm sure you will come back from vacation brimming with new visions. I'm also pretty sure your followers will still want to support you in treading new paths, and achieving new goals. I will for sure.

I like your cycle diagram and pretty much agree with the years/stages, although these can get upset sometimes e.g. when someone decides to / has to take a year out!

Don't think too hard whilst on the beach... it all comes pretty naturally to you I think :-)


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