Blistering energy in the Wavemakers’ Lab at the biggest Knowledge Festival 2017!

Text: Barbara van Lodensteijn. Photos: Alexandra Bakker.

They can’t count on cooling down, but that’s not what visitors to the Wavemakers’ Lab at the biggest (and probably hottest) Knowledge Festival came for! While the mercury rapidly rises to 29 degrees, the Lab is filled with passionate knowledge pioneers. And for good reason. Initiators Hans van der Loo, Patrick Davidson and Martijn Arets have put the best on the programme. Through the “meet & think” session with the gamechangers of the moment, they give a vibrant promise for the afternoon. Together with the pioneers, Wavemakers Hans Meyer, Mark Vletter and Theo Meskers will seek answers to their most pressing questions.

The Wavemakers

What do these men have in common and why exactly are they Wavemakers? For a start, all three of them have inexhaustible willpower! Hans Meyer, for instance, went under the radar for a while after his highly successful hotel chain CitizenM took off internationally. He came back with a rock-solid concept that everyone in his segment had overlooked; not a hotel room, but a second home for the traveling professional. A ‘Zoku’.

All three are characterized by challenging, idiosyncratic ambition. Theo Meskers works every day on making Hollands Kroon (North Holland’s headland) the smartest municipality in the Netherlands. Meskers shared his personal fears that non-urban areas will face a tough future if they fail to offer people something very attractive. “And so we are making sure that Hollands Kroon is a great place to live and work,” he said. The municipality has now managed to attract the interest of several companies worldwide, from an unprecedented variety of  sectors. Besides an agriport, US tech companies are also very interested. Incidentally, the people of Hollands Kroon take it very well when the Americans call their headland ‘Amsterdam North’.

They are brilliant connectors! Mark Vletter ensures that all his colleagues actually have nice jobs too! He has introduced holacracy as intended, which is why it works so well at Voys. These men are all explosive in the actions they take. Laserfocused, they choose their peak moments and take their rest. With the Souplesse of an elite athlete, they channel their energy on what they genuinely believe in, without compromise. They create the dream together with the people around them. The total combination makes them true Wavemakers!

The Wavemakers’ Lab is packed as Hans, Theo, and Mark present their issue to the audience. Hans challenges the pioneers and wants to know where the next Zoku location should be and why. Theo appeals to their creativity and asks how to attract young ambitious people to his municipality and, more importantly, how to retain them. Mark goes in depth on a topic that concerns him: “How do I maintain trust within my company?”

Unique achievements

Visitors to the festival then energetically engage with each other and the Wavemakers. People who have never spoken to each other before get to work as if they were on their way to their first Gazelle Award. The wave that emerges in the now sweltering lab takes shape. It combines relevance and urgency, challenge and diversity, driven above all by close collaboration. Energy is released in all corners of the Lab! After only 15 minutes, the Wavemakers are presented with a mountain of diverse ideas with personal explanations from the pioneers. Cultural, communication, organizational, and social media advice… it all comes up. The gentlemen take notes and listen with genuine interest. They are excited because they immediately see opportunities they did not have in their sights before! 


The result of the pressure cooker in the Wavemakers’ Lab is that the pioneers and Wavemakers are connected by a collective ambition, collaborative spirit, and focus. “In little time, working hard to produce usable partial results with which the Wavemaker can continue on their own after today… it doesn’t have to be ‘finished’,” was how Patrick Davidson explained the Wavemakers’ working method. They roll up their sheets of ideas and take them home to test them right away. While after the presentations the first wave slowly fizzles out, the next wave immediately picks up in strength. Wavemakers Hans Meyer and Mark Vletter find each other, and ideas and cards are exchanged between pioneers and Wavemakers.

The afternoon ends with a surprise. The three Wavemakers have opened themselves up to the participants and given a sneak peek. To thank them, they will not only receive new ideas back from the audience but also something from the three authors. Each Wavemaker will receive a unique energy measurement and accompanying activation workshop (Make yourself and your team a Powerhouse) as a gift for a team of their choice. And because Wavemaking always involves interaction, Patrick, Hans and Martijn ask the audience what they will do themselves tomorrow. “What is the one thing you will start working on tomorrow like a real Wavemaker?”

Barbara van Lodensteijn (founder of Vision Aligns)

On to the next Wave!