strategy performance management organizational behavior


Thought Leadership & Strategy

Socrates Reloaded

Technology innovation is about lifting constraints and eliminating boundaries. For example, smartphones have amazing computing power, yet are small enough to fit in a pocket. The Internet renders distance irrelevant. Analytical tools process unimaginable amounts of information in no time. The cloud solves issues of storage. And so forth. With so much technology innovation in such a short period of time, the questions that business and technology professionals wrestle with move from “How do we do things?” (within the boundaries of technology) to “What do we do with all that power?”

Once you realize this, it seems there are more questions in modern business than answers. Are there any ethical limits in integrating and analyzing all the information we have? Who owns the data that our customers share with us? How do we judge if all the business technology we have at our disposal does what is right? How do modern technologies affect our lives? Will technology make our lives and businesses better? How should we define what “better” really means? How do we govern the use of technology in business?

These are confusing times, as the cliché goes.

In confusing times, there is only one safe place to turn to for answers. To yourself. Take a deep look inside yourself to understand what you really stand for, what you believe in and what you think is the right way forward. This journey to yourself is an exercise in philosophy. Scary or even esoteric as this may sound, it is not. Philosophy certainly not restricted to university campuses and PhDs. This book is the living proof. It is a series of practical, provocative, playful and easy-to-read essays that meander through different branches of philosophy throughout history. These essays share a common theme: What would the old philosophers have said about modern themes in business and IT? Or in slightly hipper terms: “Socrates Reloaded.”

It’s an ideal theme indeed. It allows me to speculate wildly on a number of topics, and put words in the mouths of people who have been dead for hundreds of years (at least most of them). What are they going to do? Slap me on the fingers? Unlikely.

Although the essays are light, I am serious about what I write and what I intend to achieve. The essays parallel my journey to determine where I stand. That journey has now led to five books with hopefully many more to come. What I hope these essays can do for you, dear reader, is make you stop and think. Question the best practices you’ve been using and the principles you’ve been following. Look at things from a different perspective, choose a different angle. Put yourself in the shoes of someone you don’t agree with, and see things from that side.

All essays in this book try to provide a new angle, a different perspective. Perhaps you agree, and you gain an additional perspective. Perhaps you don’t agree and feel even stronger about the beliefs you already had. In fact, I hope you disagree. I'd like you to argue with me because then we both learn. Approaching interesting questions and topics from different points of view has a long tradition. Socrates was most famous for that. He would walk through Athens, in search of wisdom, asking questions of people in important positions – “what-if analysis” we would call it today.


“Rittman Mead asked Frank to present a "thought-provoking" BI insight session at our Customer Advisory Board meeting in the UK in late 2011. Frank delivered an excellent, insightful and fun session on philosophy in business and performance management to a team of BI professionals, and led some excellent conversations during the day and at the customer reception the night before. I've worked with Frank many times over the past few years and would thoroughly recommend him as a a speaker at your event. Thank you Frank!”

-- Mark Rittman, Rittman Mead

“I have had the pleasure of knowing and working with Frank for the past 5 years. Frank is truly an out-of-the-box thinker and has delivered exceptional and thought provoking keynotes for me at TDWI. Frank has a style that captivates an audience and challenges them to think differently. If more business executives and decision makers would follow Frank’s philosophy on Leadership, I assure you their companies would be stronger and better equipped to compete in today’s world.”

-- Paul Kautza, director of Education, TDWI

“I've hired Frank to several my customer events at Oracle and now at Affecto as a keynote speaker or workshop moderator. He has always shown great and innovative knowledge about the topics and gets full attention and good evaluations from the audience. He's able to inspire the audience and give people something to think about, differently!”

-- Eva Taskinen, Affecto

“I have had the pleasure to hire Frank Buytendijk as our keynote speaker on several of our IM-conferences, which is the largest independent Information Management conference within the Northern Region. Frank is one of the most innovative and energetic visionaries in business today. He uses his charisma and an incredible passion promoting his thoughts, which gives a lot of added value to the audience! Frank is an excellent keynote speaker, and I highly recommend him.”

-- Jonas Juul Mortensen, Platon

“Frank is a favourite and highly sought-after speaker for our custom LSE Enterprise Executive Education seminars on Strategy at the London School of Economics and Political Science. As the academic leader designing the strategy seminars, I invite Frank to present to global clients. They consistently show their appreciation with high ratings for his insights and expertise in the field of performance leadership and strategy execution. He is an outstanding speaker, and his originality and humour make his presentations memorable for all.”

-- Dr. Linda Hickman, London School of Economics

“The beauty of having Frank as one of our visiting fellows is that he will always come up with something original and thought-provoking. Frank is keen to have intellectual debates and to challenge established thinking, and loves making connections between apparently very different subjects. A breath of fresh air!”

-- Dr. Pietro Micheli, Cranfield University School of Management