Seeing the Human Side of Management
In 1945, de Baak evolved from the Central Social Employers Association in the Netherlands. The aim of the employers’ organization was unique at the time: to cultivate the human side of management.
De Baak’s statement of purpose read, “The Association wishes to operate in the field of labor–industry, banking, insurance, trade, and transportation–while respecting individuals’ convictions and political views as well as pursuing positive social relationships in the business community.”
Today, De Baak’s culture and values still match the spirit of its founding director, the late Charles Maitland. In the words of his grandson, Maitland “sought the balance between the head and the heart, between facts and feeling.” This balance, and the focus on personal development, remain hallmarks of De Baak’s continuing contribution to business society.
Learning at De Baak
From the beginning, the content of De Baak’s programs was innovative, as the human side of management had been relatively unexplored. In contrast with the content, the approach to teaching was more traditional: De Baak program participants received group lessons, studied case histories, and followed curricula.
It was in the mid-1990s that the shift from teaching to learning took place. Learning skills, learning in peer groups, learning through one’s own experience and case histories: this became the priority and has grown in importance over the years.
“Unlearning” and “Non-learning”
In 2005, De Baak identified a need for unlearning and non-learning. Unlearning involves shedding habitual, acquired learning behaviors. Non-learning means adopting an attitude of openness, an eagerness to pursue one’s curiosity about the world. Through this approach we acknowledge a relevant, core truth: that those who are authentic and open have the greatest chance of contributing to their organizations—and to society.