The long crisis we are experiencing marks a change of era and an opportunity to reinvent new models.
This is definitely an exceptional time. It is a time of revelation of an obligatory transition, constantly postponed, psychologically denied so much, of course, that the aftermath remains uncertain, because the aftermath is simply to be invented. As always, we would like the world to change... for others, because we are convinced that change is synonymous with loss: of comfort, of purchasing power, of habits, of achievements. At the very least, this change should be aspirational, desired, meaningful, disruptive, surprising, provocative. The expected change is not that of a man but of a system, of a paradigm.
There can be no change without a project.
And it's not called 'reforms', probably the most used word in the last 10 years, when it's probably the ugliest and least sexy word possible, a word to be banned. "Reform" means deprivation when it should mean benefit, "reform" repels when it is necessary to embark. "Reforming the state", "reforming our institutions" ... is technocratic jargon! empty, icy and impervious!
We need to re-invent rather than reform.
Even more so than in 2008 and its financial crisis, which we thought we could drown under a flood of liquidity without extinguishing the embers or condemning the arsonists, we are living in pivotal years. It is a time of systemic awareness, of the profound need for a change of paradigm, of model. Fukushima translates environmental risk into health, economic and energy risk, the Arab Spring overthrows dictatorships, states are on the verge of bankruptcy, the Greek crisis calls into question 50 years of European construction, the lack of growth and structural unemployment feed a pervasive feeling of mistrust and disrespect. Growth (the only known fuel for the model to date) is hiccupping (in Europe) like an engine on the verge of running out of fuel ... a Schumpeterian era of creative destruction ... which must be creative.
Public opinion never stops saying in surveys of all kinds that they only trust themselves, that citizens are the first actors of change, that their behaviour dictates things, that they know better than the State... so let them prove it! So much the better if political and economic leaders face up to the difficulties and invest themselves fully in their mission, that is the least we expect of them, but let this not prevent everyone from taking their individual responsibilities. This applies equally to the citizen, the consumer, the employee, the elected representative, the entrepreneur or whoever you are.
The future must be reinvented, it must be undertaken, and above all it must be co-owned.
For this is another glaring lesson of our time: everything is connected, of course. Our economies, our trade relations, our ecological environment, our social and democratic demands, our morale and our bank account ...
We live on a porous planet, where borders are disappearing.
The famous decoupling evoked between the United States and China at the beginning of the financial crisis did not happen. Through our connected economies, these horizontal decouplings do not exist, even if we sometimes dream of vertical decoupling. This vertical decoupling is that of our micro-economic spheres with respect to the large macro-economic ecosystems, it is the feeling, the illusion, the pretension perhaps, of being able to live something else, differently, saved, living differently from the global image sent back every day. This vertical decoupling is the wish to get away from it all, to live in a parallel world, in its parallel world. It is also the will to continue to undertake, to initiate, to invent, to re-invent, not to depend on a re-launching from above that no longer knows, by public spending that is no longer there. Relaunch, recreate from within, through innovation and entrepreneurial dynamism. If you want growth, create it! If you want a new model, invent it! If you want companies that are more respectful of society and the environment, act differently and dictate your conditions!
While public spending may have cushioned the crisis in France, representing 56% of our GDP, it will not create recovery, it is a shock absorber that does not rebound.
The public debt crisis is also the death knell of the welfare states. This public assistance to the economy is out of breath, out of ideas, out of money. It is therefore from the market, accused of the worst, that the best must also come, the creation of wealth so essential to the desirable and necessary redistribution, with the added need to create wealth of a different kind, sustainable and no longer selective and exclusive.
Growth was long considered a factor of progress, but it has become synonymous with environmental and social destruction. At the same time, progress has become more technological than social.
The challenge of the next few years will not be to preserve old business models, but to let new ones emerge and develop.
When so many companies often congratulate themselves on being a hundred years old, we must also encourage the creation and development of new ones. While none of the top 100 French companies are under 30 years old, two-thirds of them are in the United States. In 2011 I created my company, as one is created every minute in France (keep this benchmark), to represent a company with less than 20 employees ... like 97% of companies in France (another often overlooked benchmark).
Like the few companies that have been born while you were reading this article, let us wish them luck and success, which will inevitably be collective. These days, the French pride themselves on a very good demographic vitality, so much the better, they must also demonstrate their economic and entrepreneurial vigour, without public viagra, in short supply.
First edition: November 2011 (!!)