We’re working again with our old friends at Hub Amsterdam. Since I worked there in 2008 when Head of Design at the Hub the community has grown and the move to Westerpark is to a new and larger space. More importantly, it is the beginning of Hub Next Level, a reconnection and acceleration of the Hub’s social impact mission.
Only five years ago, when we were putting together the space at Westerstraat with Tatiana Glad, Frederike Vos and Thomas Vaassen, it felt like we were feeling our way through the process. So much was new, so much had yet to be learnt. Interestingly the move to Westerpark will incorporate team rooms, an innovation we understood was necessary even as far back as 2006, but only really implemented successfully by Hub Soma in their expansion upstairs of a few years ago.
I have no formal role with the Hub, but I do love working with the Hubs when the opportunity arises. Hub Amsterdam was one of the first locations to be supported by a dedicated team based in London, whose responsibility was to understand, formalise and implement a way to share our collective knowledge of Hub Making. And looking back, with as many as 60 Hubs now springing up around the world, it really feels that while the locations are growing the learning may still be disappearing through the cracks.
Since that time there has been a governance shift that was well overdue, and with that new lease of life with at least two new generations of Hub Makers. When TILT was recently in Singapore we visited the Hub there, and while it was amazing to see and an incredible achievement, there were exactly the same set of questions and concerns that every group of founders I worked with would ask. Some of those questions only experience can answer, and rightly so, but so many others have been answered by myriad Hubs through difficult experiences that need not be repeated. I have no solution to this situation, but I think actually it suggests a more complex and interesting question that a lot of organisations have to face in order to grow and develop. Namely the relationship between central and distributed authority and agency.
The Hub will always face this ongoing tension until it maybe stagnates, once all possible locations are established and models tried. But up until that time there will be the constant pull and push for a centralised leadership, like a TED clone, or for distributed entrepreneurship. The distributed entrepreneurship is the current model, and with the brand change and a renewed global vision around social impact it feels that finally the network is finding its maturity. But as I said when I was leading the codesign session yesterday at Hub Amsterdam, and my speech that followed, it is always and only the people that make the hub project work. And while the hubs proliferate, it is worth reflecting on the past and the successes of Hubs like Amsterdam five years in an high priced city, with no government or foundational support, and reaching ever forward, leading the way towards the change people have always wanted the Hub to deliver.
There’s more to come with this collaboration, including open source space design, a comake project and new iterations of the Hub Amasterdam LeafDesk, designed with the team five years ago.