Houston, we have a problem

Shaping the future: navigating digital disruption, polarisation and climate collapse with the power of storytelling.

In this keynote, Rik takes the audience on a journey of 30 years of digital disruption. In doing so, he sheds light – on the one hand – on the massive challenges humankind is facing while – on the other – showing that we have an enormous problem of our own making. There is no Houston to save us; we are Houston.

The dawn of two-way communication provoked an unexpected turning point in human history; we’re too close to it to fully appreciate the staggering consequences. In this keynote, Rik talks about the good, the bad and the ugly that we have all caused with technology. He will discuss the ambiguities of disruption, artificial intelligence, privacy, the Capitol riot, grandchildren and Mark Zuckerberg in his own daring way, provoking you while putting things into perspective. Rik dissects unguided digital disruptors and sleep-walking incumbents, the tech generation, old captains of industry and many modern-day hypes. He calls everything into question in a critical analysis of the current (digital) context.

Rik manages to associate well-known icons from popular culture with the turning points in technological developments. That’s how he comes to talk about ‘the Upside Down’ from Stranger Things, business books like Hooked, literature like Lord of the Flies, art by Magritte, lyrics by The Beatles and anecdotes of personal encounters with Alexander Nix and Sir Tim Berners-Lee. He combines all of this in an unusual but captivating story that seems to have an unhappy ending, but that suddenly becomes deeply hopeful for the next 30 years.

Rik doesn’t just focus on the biggest problems, he also emphasises and plays on the power of storytelling to stimulate the human brain. Neuroscience has shown us that stories can help us understand complex problems, connect with others, and change the way in which we interact with each other and the planet.

‘Houston, we have a problem’ is like a painting by Breugel: lively, rich and full of discoveries. It’s a strong yet incredibly positive call to action. The clock is ticking…

What others say about Rik

David Lewis
David LewisLondon Business School
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"Rik's real world experience in pushing the boundaries of business and exploiting technology to innovate, is invaluable to our executive participants at the London Business School. His ability to use stories to bring challenging ideas alive, educates and inspires."
Tim Orme
Tim OrmeLondon Business School
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"Thanks for your continued commitment to the programme over the years. I’ve really enjoyed working together on RFC."
Michiel Bleys
Michiel BleysUnilever
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"We had the pleasure of welcoming Rik during Unilever’s Global Execution Forum, inspiring 22 markets to become co-architects of our future-fit Execution framework. Rik triggered a growth mindset and sparked the energy by providing thought-provoking angles, convincing us that waiting isn’t an option. One thing that we’ll immediately start integrating is Rik’s NCS KPI, as we truly want to harness the power of ‘staying curious’: not looking at what we have, but at what it can become!"
Elke de Clerck
Elke de ClerckRousselot
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"Rik inspires, moves and makes things move. Highly recommend to invite Rik to rock&roll you into new insights. For all those looking for change and directions of change."
Jose Voisin
Jose VoisinCarmeuse
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"Rick is an insightful leader and great speaker who effectively inspires people about embracing Change and Digitalization."