Published in Dictatorship
just finished reading the very interesting book of Professor S. Girod from IMD, Resetting Management: Thrive with Agility in the Age of Uncertainty. I fully understand and support the idea that, in an uncertain world, companies, but also individuals should consider becoming more agile which for me means more flexible, better able to react to changes in their environment.
N. Taleb mentions this example of the life of a taxi driver as opposed to the life of a manager in a large company in the Black Swan. The taxi driver is of course a lot more flexible than the manager, because he is used to having days where he makes good money and days where he cannot cover the fuel cost. The well-off manager is probably a lot more confused, having reached his 50th and being fired suddenly having done nothing wrong, but having cashed the same salary month after month and lived accordingly. He is a lot more fragile than the taxi driver although he does not recognize it until it is too late (see the happy life of the turkey before it gets beheaded before Christmas, another N. Taleb example).
I also fully support the distinction between agility and agile methods. The methods are well, just methods that have to be used, can be used according to the situation and the goals that are pursued. Like any other methods, these are capable of delivering the expected results in specific situations and should be used accordingly.
I am just wondering if this focus on agility is not a focus on yesterday’s battles and if a new environment is not being put in place before our eyes that will request different solutions. It will not be tomorrow, but it may come quicker as one expects.
Indeed, my view is that we are slowly, but decisively moving from an environment characterized by a high level (growing level) of uncertainty to an environment that will be characterized by a very high level of certainty. This new environment will be seen as so certain that it will force us to rethink how we live, produce and consume. Limited uncertainty, limited risks that are below a certain threshold will disappear, because more and more aspects of our lives will be standardized, specified. Our freedom to make decisions will be limited, eliminated for our own good.
We will have to respect the standards, because the cost of not respecting them will be too high. Not respecting the standards will mean being left behind, left out of society. In this new world, the undefined future will disappear. It will look like an eternal present. We will somehow go back to the environment we knew before the 60th, where what to do, how to do was well understood and practiced.
In this “brave” new world, consumption will be simplified, because the “system” will say what to buy, when to buy and from where to buy to get the best value. This new world is of course perfectly in line with the environmental issues we have to solve. It will allow us to stop wastage. It will allow us to put a perfect planning system in place, a system that communist countries tried to put in place in the 20th century, but without success.
For companies, it will mean a completely new environment, an environment in which you can only survive if you deliver the best value (at the lowest cost, actually the marginal cost). It will not be any longer about understanding your customers, it will be about being registered as “the partner” on the application that will tell the individuals what to buy from where. As a result, if your push the reasoning to the limit, only a very limited number of companies may survive for each product/service/region they serve.
This new environment is already being put in place as just mentioned. The power of a very few companies is already creating monopoly situations and making market entry for others very difficult, even impossible.
These are some of the thoughts I write about in “La dictature des systèmes experts”.
Making the future certain will make us fragile, less resistant to big shocks that cannot be absorbed by the robust processes that we will have put in place. Do we want of such a future?
I would be delighted to read your comments.