The COVID-19 pandemic made us realize that our health is more important than money. Our economy, the engine of our society, has been hit hard and now it’s time to get back on track. We can continue as we have done so far or we can do better. Until now, our economic system has been based solely on monetary values, on money. We need money, it is the flow that makes the economy work. But like everything else, extremes are never good. We have to find the right balance because it cannot be to the detriment of humans and the environment. We are all interconnected and interdependent. The freedom of some ends where the freedom of others begins. What kind of species would we be if we continued to plunder natural resources, continued to accelerate global warming, created water and food shortages, deepened social inequalities for individualistic profit-maximizing interests and wanted to flee into space?
There is no contradiction or opposition between economy, social and ecology: these three elements form a whole. The economy must serve humans while respecting the environment, its living space. There are reflections and possible models, developed by Jean Tirole, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics with the “Economics for the Common Good” and Christian Felber with the “Economy for the Common Good”.
From confrontation to collaboration. Until now, trade has too often been seen as a fight of power. There is a winner and a loser. The financial world and the stock exchanges represent this with a bull and a bear. But the world is not black and white. It is also composed of a multitude of colours. The best deals are those where there are two winners (WIN-WIN). Like in sales, where the buyer finds the product that meets his need and the seller sells his product. In addition to material satisfaction, there is satisfaction in the form of positive emotion. The satisfaction of having found, the satisfaction of having sold but also the satisfaction of having satisfied his customer. When you prepare a good meal, you can eat it alone. You can serve yourself as much as you want, until you feel sick to your stomach. But in the end, this meal will always be better when it is shared with several people, even and especially when sharing the cake.
The new generations have understood this and are already working in this way. Because together we are always stronger than alone. One person’s idea plus another person’s idea makes at least a third idea emerge, if not more. Thanks to new digital tools, such as collaborative platforms, it is easier to work together on joint projects. Ideas circulate and are shared. This way of working encourages innovation and technological development is accelerating.
Transversality is important because it allows new ideas and opens the door to innovation. Transversality will become more important because after many years of specialization and increasing complexity in all business lines, the success of a project, a company or an organization depends on the smooth functioning of people with each other. Transversality creates the link. Connecting the different elements that make up a whole is decisive for the smooth running of the whole and for success.
Time has become a decisive factor in competitiveness. How much time do you spend per day reading your e-mails? How many of them are really important? The same applies to your colleagues and employees. But if you focus on tasks, project progress and the final goal, many messages become obsolete. Again, thanks to digital tools, everyone can follow the progress of a project, open or closed tasks, the chronology and communicate without e-mail. The efficiency of organizations is played out in time management and communication. E-mail, I am convinced, will in the future be mainly a tool to communicate with people “outside” the organization, the company, just like we used to send postal mail in the past.
Globalization has shown its limits, working locally has become a matter of course. Not for reasons of withdrawal but for reasons of common sense. It is therefore not a question of favouring nationalities, which would be discrimination, but of favouring geographical proximity while remaining open to the world. Why bring a product from the other side of the world when my neighbour makes it? By buying his product, I support his company, sustain local jobs, strengthen local purchasing power and therefore potential customers, the buyers of my own products. A virtuous circle, positive for the local community of which I am a part. Of course, if the product you are looking for does not exist nearby, you will have to widen your search radius and only if necessary, buy it at the other end of the world. The other positive effect of this type of consumption is the reduction of the carbon footprint for our planet.
And the price tag in all this? It will always be cheaper somewhere, but at what price? For a price to be lower, the quality of the product must be lower and/or manufacturing costs must be reduced, such as labour wages. Buying “cheap” favours a negative spiral (relocation, unemployment, etc.). Moreover, the satisfaction of having made a good deal is often shorter than the frustration of having bought a bad product. Let’s consume, yes, but better, let’s favour quality over quantity.
The time of exploitation of natural resources and waste is over, it must be replaced by the circular economy because “nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed” (Traité élémentaire de chimie, Antoine Lavoisier 1789).
Author: Axel Stabnau, Franco-German consultant in strategy and organization.