How to Become Great? The Netherlands Miracle

I recently watched the “World history, how big nations became great? documentary and I have to admit that it expanded my understanding of innovation (and history) a lot and how innovation helped the West to become great, big, wonderful etc…you name it.

It has been more than a year since I last published a post. So there should be a strong catalyst to trigger me to write after a long break or I might like to suppress my appetite for laziness:) You may decide. But one thing certain is this documentary played a game-changing role.

Regardless of the reason, I found the growth and development of Netherlands amazing. They were the world leader in the 17th century with their success on maritime. They, of course, deserved their wealth to herring (A kind of fish which mainly lives in cold water and was/is found in Northern Europe) no need to mention their irrigation system to discharge water from their fields.  Their advancement in these systems in addition to their well-handling of their prone-to-strong-sea-waves geographical location made Netherlands a critical place for logistics and they eventually became the safe port for shipment between west and east as well  as btw west and west. Netherlands was a good example of how one can turn a strong disadvantage into a great advantage.

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The innovation laid in their new ship design, they changed their design to carry more items for logistics. What they did was instead of carrying more weapons to deter enemies, carrying more food, beverages and clothes. They got risk, but every success involved risk for sure. Designing ships for carrying more guns and weapons was costly as it included more labor and material cost but comparatively it was not that expensive to carry more and more trade items. That proved change management and meaningful risk taking mattered.

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The trade made Netherlands a prosperous country but the problem of management rose immediately as the cities of the country became bigger and richer every day. The elites were governing the country but after a long dispute between the elites and the general public, the general public won. They started to manage their own destiny then. The reason for the victory was the public became rich with the development of trade and they gained more and more freedom thanks to the revenue it generated. This was a great example of money talks concept.

In addition to its success in economics, Netherlands proved the importance of unity on the way to becoming a welfare country. What they did was getting together not only materially but also spiritually to fight against Spanish King Philip I to obtain their independence and they were successful at the end. Moreover, after a dispute with the UK as to who would be the owner of Netherlands,  they became absolutely free with handling successfully the new emerging power of the World.

On the way to creating a safe port for trade and economics, they gave full independence to tradesmen. They even went further and decided to challenge the UK and Spain which had the biggest and largest Navy power (Both in terms of economics and military) and were quite  successful implementing their plan. As a result, they became the strongest with enlarging to all continents of the World thanks to their courage. Helen Keller said “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” which Netherlands knew very well.

Last but not the least, they established the “Dutch East India Company” for which they gathered fund from the general public (comparatively, I’d call it as the first implementation of a kick-starter project as each citizen had a share from the corporation with investing a little. This encouraged the feeling of belonging and united the seven small states forming the country). Of course, we should not ignore the importance of the contribution by the government who supported fully the establishment of the company. In order to expand the financial mechanism, the Amsterdam stock exchange was established. They even set up the Amsterdam Bank in 1609 which was 100 years before the establishment of Bank of England. It is also noteworthy to mention that Dutch West India Company had 15000 liaison offices or contact points around the world in mid 17th century when Amsterdam was known as the center of the world (World HQ). They were the first to form today’s New York (Formerly known as New Amsterdam) and also formed New Zealand. All above expanded the richness of the Dutch and laid the foundation for The Netherlands we knew today.

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Below table shows the market cap of Dutch East India Company. They reached more than 7 Trillion USD in current terms at their peak time. For full article, please visit: Dutch West India Market Cap

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Next is on the way:)) Who knows the topic. Stay tuned:)

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