My manifesto: thrive in a changing world

by Jacques Arnol-Stephan, co-founder of J2 Reliance

The world is changing. This seems mundane today. But how many are we to have really made this affirmation the backbone of our life?

When I started my career forty years ago in Paris, computers were huge pieces of furniture, the strategic plans covered the decade to come, the world was divided in three parts — the “free” West, the communist East and the underdeveloped rest —, natural resources were infinite, and the future was naturally brighter than the present.

The disruptions brought by the Internet, the vanishing of the Iron Curtain, the rise of Asia, the threat of radical Islamism, the new awareness of the scarcity of some natural resources have shattered this tranquil vision of the world and its future. I share with my dear friend the physicist and philosopher Marc Halevy the deep conviction that we do not live one of those cyclic changes that the capitalism and the industrial era have accustomed us to. We are rather living in a time that the scientists working on the complexity call “a bifurcation”: a change of paradigm, of the kind of those that, according to Marc, happen about every fifth century. It is a time full of dangers, of course, but still more full of opportunities. Who could pretend that our world in the 1980’s was perfect? So, how could those deep changes not be seen as an opportunity to mend it?

The world of businesses has to endure these changes while still continuing to produce goods, services and… employment. This is not as simple as it looks. The uncertainty of the future brings along a lot of difficulties in managing people. Because the future is so uncertain, is it worth betting on it, or wouldn’t it be wiser to just take the maximum of profit now and here? Is it worth working at all? And meanwhile, businesses need long or medium-term investments, and people need sense. The younger they are, the louder they claim at the same time their need for sense to their lives, and their lack of confidence in the vision that their elders have shared.

At J2-Reliance, we do not long for the past; we do not regret it at all. But we do not like wasting, and we feel sad when we watch the energy wasted in businesses — and more generally in the society — because of the fears or the deadlocks that these profound changes involve. That is why we decided to create J2-Reliance. By bringing together the skills of an historian, those of an executive manager in high-tech companies and experienced executive coach, and by adding now the specific point of view of a young scientist, we are able to bring solutions or at least bring some hindsight and reflexion to address a more and more complex matter: managing and leading people and businesses in such an uncertain world.

We share one core-purpose: to promote a more meaningful way of managing businesses and organizations, by better reckoning with the human dynamics at stake. Because building the future needs imagination, conviction, cooperation, dedication and sense.

 

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