Continuing a Guinness World Record Mindset into Today’s Process Improvement
- April 30, 2015
- Leave a comment
Setting a Guinness Book of World Records for most falling dominoes was the domino effect of Mark van der Meer’s life.
Today, a business management consultant with Western Management Consultants (WMC), Mark first distinguished himself at university, back home in the Netherlands. An aerospace engineering student at the time, the then-23 year old was part of an elite multi-university team that designed and erected a national display using 1.25 million domino stones.
“It took 30 of us eight to 10 hours a day for 30 days, just to put the stones down, and one hour for them to fall,” Mark recalls of the project, sponsored by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. They broke the record during their first try and set a new Guinness Book of World Records for most falling dominos during a nerve-wracking live broadcast on national television. A KLM model airplane flew into the display and knocked down the first domino.
The rest, as they say, is history.
As a reward, the students were offered a free trip anywhere in the world KLM flies. Mark’s destination was Singapore, but it was during his three-week stopover in India that he met his destiny. His future wife was staying in the same youth hostel. “She’s a Canadian. That’s how I ended up in Canada and with WMC,” says the 51-year-old husband and father of two teenage boys. “Ultimately, you come full circle. That’s the significance of the domino in my life.”
The project also taught him creativity, problem solving, how to manage complicated processes, and the basic skill of common sense. These are all things that make Mark an accomplished expert in business process improvement and change management, and bring his consulting clients success.
“You’d be surprised how little common sense is used in projects,” says this creative and analytical problem-solver. “Things are done because you are told to do them, with little thought ever given to Why? The Why question is what drives me.”
After mandatory military service, Mark took a job writing software programs and went back to night school, earning a degree in Information Technology. That led to managing IT departments in the Netherlands, and then to business process management, an area he continues to excel in as a consultant with WMC’s Calgary office.
“I improve processes by using technology,” he says. “My view is there’s always room for improvement. The process is never finished, it’s never perfect.”
Canadian clients include Enbridge Inc., AltaLink, Suncor, the Calgary Fire Department, and the Royal Tyrell Museum in Drumheller.
When not working, he is an avid reader of science fiction and is a volunteer soccer coach for both his boys’ soccer teams.
By Paula Arab
The opinions represented here do not necessarily represent WMC’s views as a whole.