Let us prepare together the Post-Covid Economy

Friday March 5th, 2021 0 comments

During the first Covid pandemic wave, we observed the corporate and political leaders who were having a positive impact on their constituencies or employees. One of the five points these men and women have in common is the refusal to “look at the Future in the rear-view mirror”. They are acutely aware that going back, after Covid, to “Business as usual” would mean missing our biggest opportunities to reset the World on a sustainable path.

Recently, Pedro Suarez, the ex-President Latam then North America for Dow Chemical, recommended me an excellent article: ”Why management is a branch of Narrative Economics”. In it, Steve Denning (the “guru” of Story Telling) refers to Nobel-prize winning economist, Robert Shiller’s book, Narrative Economics (Yale, 2019), in which, the author suggests that “mega-narratives drive public discourse and our lives”. Denning describes the stories which shaped the Western World in the last century and shows how disconnected they were from reality to become an ideology that no one could go against. He now invites us all, leaders of the XXIst century, to recreate a mega-narrative, that we live and will save this World.

Far, really far, from being Nobel Prizes winners or Gurus, one of my closest business partners, Nick McRoberts, and I have decided to modestly contribute to the effort requested by Shiller, by writing more on those leaders who will create a new, sustainable and fairer “Disruption Economy” rather than use the latest technology discoveries to fool us into believing that we “save the planet” by buying electric cars (omitting of course to ask ourselves how the electricity that feeds them is produced) or reinforce the concentration of fortune in ever fewer hands.

One of our strong beliefs is that the World won’t go any better, should its leaders continue to resort to exclusion, radicalization or polarization or desperately hang on to power. We find instead that Dr. Luther King’s quote far better applies to our collective, business and political context, in 2021: “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools”. Hence, rather than seeking to advocate, convince and provoke (which only would engage those who already think like us) we will seek to create a constructive, innovative and World changing dialogue, on the basis set by Rapoport.

Anatol Rapoport was a Russian born, American mathematical psychologist who passed away in 2007. In a recent opus (“Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking”), philosopher Daniel Dennett reminds us of Rapoport’s rules of constructive argument and debate:

  • You should attempt to re-express your target’s position so clearly, vividly, and fairly that your target says, “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.”
  • You should list any points of agreement (especially if they are not matters of general or widespread agreement).
  • You should mention anything you have learned from your target.
  • Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.

Nick and I would like to invite you to guide us in publishing this work, and avoid positioning ourselves as gurus so our questions to you, are as follows:

  • We would like to talk about the Disruption Economy. Writing… a book isn’t necessarily the most ground breaking manner to communicate our ideas. However we believe that a book, supported by a recognized publisher is still a must in terms of credibility but, are we right? Would you, our closest partners read it? What topics would you like us to address?
  • What else can we do? Do you watch videos? How long are they? Would you want 90 second “bites of wisdom” or 3h long form podcasts?
  • Should we have guests from all walks of life and countries? Are there some specific people you would like us to talk to?
  • Should we find people who agree with our philosophy or deliberately seek to engage with those who don’t see
  • What are we missing? What haven’t we considered?

Thank you, in advance for supporting us in this adventure!

  • New Mindset: How to think strategically in the Disruption Economy

    Sunday February 14th, 2021 0 comments

    When asked by participants to my public speeches about the tools that disruptive organizations use, my reply is that, tools don’t make an organization disruptive: its mindset and culture do! This being said, to identify and challenge orthodoxies (Gary Hamel 1997) are a classic of disruptive thinking (see my article of 2017). Shell’s famous scenario planning (1970’s) is another way…

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  • “New Normal” or “New Mindset”?

    Sunday February 7th, 2021 0 comments

    I confess to be increasingly sceptical when hearing people talk about “New Normal”, a convenient way to go back, without too much questioning, to “Business as Usual” after a superficial facelift! Working from home? New Normal! All digital? New Normal! Virtual meetings? New Normal! Increased control? New Normal! And the list could be long… The problem I have with “New…

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  • Distance working goes against creating “Intelligent Organizations”

    Saturday January 23rd, 2021 4 comments

    The actual pandemic will have taught us the joys and challenges of distance-work, working from home, virtual meetings etc. And there is no question, in my mind, that this is absolutely necessary. It enables organisations to continue to work (and it is amazing how quickly we have adapted and performed) whilst limiting the damage to employees’ health and showing respect…

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  • Bonding feels good but is a destructive strategy!

    Saturday January 9th, 2021 2 comments

    Almost nine years ago, I wrote an article titled: “Bonding vs bridging: One of the biggest cause of value destruction”. I recommend you read it (again?) as a complement to this one. Bonding is an exclusion based reflex or strategy, inciting divisiveness and polarization against a common “enemy” (usually a weak placebo for the lack of a superior, shared and…

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  • May we take an active part in changing the World in 2021

    Sunday December 27th, 2020 4 comments

    A friend and client, C.E.O. of a chemical company, wrote in reaction to our last blogpost: “Sometimes with brutality, 2020 has placed the values of Life back to the centre of our reflection. I believe that the Future will be different and I wonder if those hastily rushing to getting all back “as it was before”, are not setting themselves…

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  • When ten observers of the World share what 2020 meant for them

    Saturday December 19th, 2020 0 comments

    In 2004, James Surowiecki (head of the Business Column in The New-Yorker), published a book which still fascinates us nowadays: “The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations”. In it, he provides several examples where collective intelligence produced far more accurate, insightful or useful results than…

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  • Leading Change: think before you leap (Summary)

    Friday October 23rd, 2020 2 comments

    Over the past 30 years or so of coaching and advising leaders at all levels, we have been struck by one frustratingly constant observation: the majority of change initiatives end in failure. Not all of them make the headlines, obviously, and some are only partial failures that can be neatly swept under the carpet. Still, the conclusion remains the same,…

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  • Do what you think has to be done!

    Friday September 25th, 2020 5 comments

    Put yourselves into the shoes of an employee: A lethal pandemic has hit the World. Your business and political leaders have no clues how to react to it. A wind of panic blows… You are faced with a “Cornelian Choice”: Do I report sick or “at risk” so as to protect my life and my family from infection or do…

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  • In disruptive times, it is OK not to know, but unacceptable not to lead!

    Thursday September 17th, 2020 4 comments

    Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) was a brilliant scientist and science-fiction writer. One of his famous quotes is “Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread, winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge!” More recently, Etienne Klein (a French physicist/philosopher) quoted an amazing poll published…

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  • “If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two impostors just the same” (R. Kipling): why sowing the seeds of defeat in victory?

    Saturday July 11th, 2020 2 comments

    It is 312 BC and the Roman army understands with despair that they don’t have a single chance to escape the trap laid by their Samnites opponents. They are surrounded and blocked at the bottom of a valley and throw their weapon downs. Refusing to listen to his father’s advice on how to treat the Romans (“Make them no harm…

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