Today isn’t any different

Gerben Veenema8 October 2018

Whoever enters our consulting room can’t miss him! The Rotterdammish picture on the back wall. No, not the Erasmusbridge, not De Kuip or the MarketHall, but ‘The Hef’. Or rather: ‘The man on the Hef’. This photo was taken around the year 1926 with in the main role Pieter Joosting, the architect that designed the bridge. 

Why this picture?

Nordhaven

This picture is, as far as we’re concerned, special for multiple reasons. That is what touches us! 

Lef (Bravery)

Danger of falling? Impossible to escape in case of danger? These terms probably didn’t even exist in the vocabulary at that time. I mean, not in Joostings’ vocabulary. Joosting had ‘lef’ and the photo proves it. 

He isn’t concerned with the height, nor the dangers. Hands in his pockets, left foot on a thin steel beam… Just enough the keep in balance. Literally: on the edge. 

Today isn’t any different.

Lef is needed today also. Lef to make choices, to create new products, to make propositions, services or to change entire business models, lef is needed to win.

Another thing about lef: how do you think this picture was made? How much lef did the photographer need? 

Definition of lef:

  • daring, guts, nerve, pluck, courage, guts, brass, confidence, optimism, blowing up, boldness, bravery, valour, gallantry, prowess, audacity

Problem

Besides the visible elements, a beautiful story is hiding within this photo. 

The Hef existed for tenths of years already, but there was a problem. Right until 1926, the Hef was a pivot bridge, that served as crossing point for trains. The rotary construction created nuisance and delays for ships and a solution was needed.

The solution: a lift bridge. Trains could cross just as fast and ships could now cross faster.

Joosting didn’t design the Hef to design a bridge. There was a goal: the function the bridge fulfilled was good, but the manner in which it did had to be improved. 

Today isn’t any different.

You don’t create a website to have a website. You don’t launch an AdWords campaign because you’re supposed to have one. You have a problem, a goal and you come up with ideas and develop the means to achieve that goal.

Joosting reminds us of the question:

“which problem do we solve for our cliënts?”

Innovation

The cars beneath in the photo pass the people that transport themselves on a horse wagon. It depicts an interesting era. It’s the era in which Henry Ford said:

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

Today isn’t any different.

Innovations follow up rapidly and competition is high in basically every market. Innovating isn’t always just as easy, but in the meantime it’s essential to stay relevant.

The photo reminds us of the impact of changes and makes us conscious of the actions we can take to be ready for the world of tomorrow. 

Persistent impact

The assigment Joosting had, had everything to do with speed. Ships needed to pass faster and the train connection couldn’t suffer from it. 

Today isn’t any different.

Still – or maybe more than ever – we want speed. We want faster. Our patience seems to decrease and ‘waiting’ might be the most hated word of this era. 

The search for faster did bring us much good. Too much to mention here. But the race for speed is for many people and organizations a gigantic challenge.

To satisfy the consumers of today, the advantages of your product or service need to manifest on a short term. There’s nothing wrong with that: it makes us alert and creative.

However, focus should not just be on the short term. What good is a flourishing business, if it loses it right to exist in a mere couple of years?

The picture reminds us of that balance. Achieving short term results that are relevant in the long run. Joosting proved it is possible. Maybe not in a way he had in mind.

The Hef doesn’t function anymore, but Joosting did achieve a persistent impact. 

Joosting probably dreamed of the countless trains that would bang over ‘his’ Hef. Of the countless ships that would pass. 

But did he ever think that he, just a mere 100 years later, a small group creative people would be inspired by this photo? People with a job that didn’t even exist at the time? Not with ‘his’ bridge, but with one picture.

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