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Archive for the ‘economics’ Category

Participating again to the OECD forum (@OECDLive), it was the opportunity to mark a new position, talking about the “Better Life Index” (BLI) that is monitored and measured in main countries in the world. Because GDP is not the only KPI now and we may be closed to “happiness” than ever, while the world is changing of  “business and transaction” model with lot of uncertainty. BLI, for its 3.0 verse, is based on, wherever you live, the main facts and feelings about the quality of daily life and how people hold “performed and advanced” conditions, in their situation. In short, “what’s really important” for people: education, safety, environment, growth, governance, equality, trust in the future and institutions and what’s scheduled for them. BLI has been launched in Russia in January, and we enter in a consolidation year for 2013. Improve “people’s life” must be the first issue of any country in the world, and sometimes, we need not much resources than we believe. And the path and main goal is to turn KPIs and measurements into “actions, changes and relevant improvements for people”. There’s still some differences of course between developing countries and mature ones, and the BLI must be adapted to any configuration, to capture the essence of needs, live, snapshotting the main opportunities. Be ready for the next very interesting idea: link BLI results and managing government in any country, just to get some feedback about people who were elected, and how they drive and achieved or not, their democracy issues…Some surprises to come!

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SMEs: backbone of the economy?

SMEs are probably the main source of the economy in the rising countries, and by the way, great suppliers for employment (in emerging countries, 97% of jobs are created in SMEs!). More flexible, agile and speed driven, they lead the competitiveness but are very exposed to bankruptcy: lack of liabilities or size, inequality in taxes comparing to larger groups, theres’s many way to improve the environment of SMEs, starting with “understandings” of what is a SME and its daily life? It seems so obvious that post of governments forget about it and only adapt rules that are driven to failure. Access to talents (draw and get trust), financial resources, trust, hold the operations line and so long are not so obvious and we’re facing many unequal statements that grip the wheel. Talking about Germany, that is celebrated to be really succesfull for its innovation and working floor for SMEs, they had to build a “specific plan”, customized, but underlining the roots and a very operational approach. No theory, no smart talks but actions and relevant environment built to success. Create conditions of success mean a whole environment of help: education, coaching, funding, capital and equity managing, training talents, taxes improvements, leveraging SMEs in organizing fair cooperation and competition between larger groups and startups. But yes they are smart “backbones” for new economy, where services take place instead of old industries…

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The Asian Century

The huge demand in the zone makes it possible to go into the Asian century. But demand is not the only valuable indicator, to settle trust and sustainable conditions. Mindset and political stability may be as important as growth or wealth. And when we look at mistrust for China or North Korea, we have to consider they have some keys from inside, to turn their huge demand into sustainable and stable markets. If poor countries from the zone benefit from “low working class” conditions, making them employable, it’s already a progress but not sufficient to say the goal is over. As the competition is worldwide now, we must consider social, education, goods and services suppliance and welfare spreading as necessary step, to build a better society.

These are some milestones I had the opportunity to share and listen, in this troubled world. Talking about the main issues of unemployment, education, poverty but also happiness and security, every zone in the world has its own challenges, but saying so doesn’t mean everything is apart. Currencies, sales exchanges, custom tarifs and production costs, are linked I guess. And the necessity to progress in sustainable and green development may not be so central, as developping zones like BRICS may not hold their unlimited needs and growth. How can we deal with such problems, while growth isn’t enough and debt is increasing in Europa? Let’s have a look at the future with trust and hope demanding countries could find a way to prosper in this weird world…

Thanks to OCDE team again for this awesome event and so many networking facts.

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When WWW was built, it was nothing else than a private, closed and scientific network to share and exchange files, articles, in a steady rythm. Fair enough. From Tim Bernes-Lee’s Arpanet to Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn who created TCP/IP protocol, everything was done in a “scientific, military, professional” approach, for few users in fact. And from a couple of hundred scientifics to 2,4 billions users, let’s say there’s probably a huge gap…And the emergency to rebuild something different, from scratch or in incremental way, but reboot the system. Some say that the only IPv6 solution (eg that solutes the problem of the exponential needs for IP address) is already a titans’ work…And don’t believe it will be possible to start from zero, and recreate something more efficient.

The experts say there’s challenges that this new “web” must overcome, as:

  • security: inside and bornbuilt security systems to avoid firewalls and sustain authentification, without identity hacking
  • mobility: only the network counts, as you’re mobile, you never have to be unplugged by ruptures in the different networks/rates. content everywhere, anytime, anydevice and without any interruption
  • resources: always find the best way with less consumption to deliver content
  • multilanguages: to improve the writing, characters and different signs in any language
  • repetition: push messages on several networks at-a-time

wwwNo need to say that facing these big issues, the former structure of Internet is not sufficient anymore. And different theories with for example, IP concepts that identified localised adress more than identity, or identify contents or services more than machines. Internet may be tomorrow a single highway more than a network of networks, which was the spirit of the begining. And has to be more “fluent” and flexible, dealing with the huge amount of datas and contents that goes every day all around the world. The future is in creating emergency roads, to double and increase the different ways to deliver datas rate, called “redondance”, and give up with old IP notion: enhance security and hold the real identity online, through a personal adress, linked to people/place (eg mobile) more than device. A very interesting journey and project, and we know it worths all over the efforts to get there.

Moreover:

http://www.strategyland.com/2011/rebuild-the-internet

http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/08/04/a-call-to-rethink-internet-search

http://thepeninsulaqatar.com/techfile/240835-smartphones-make-internet-giants-rethink-strategy.html

http://www.rethinkeverythingblog.com/the-internet-of-things

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A French-American meeting took place in the HEC Alumnis offices, for a very special and thrilling conference on the life now with computers. Organized by different groups (Harvard France, HEC International Dev, Stanford club of European leaders) and framed by several meetings like this with different topics, we had an interesting demonstration for the full room within: “the impacts of computers on our world”. Great teasing for tremendous steps, we forgot to remember, as time shifted so quickly.

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A new journey for the future, or must I say, our now standard life, since industry, energy and engines shifted to information, digits and computers. First there was mechanics, engineering and lots of complicated, tough and sheer materials. Built with hardcore and efforts, industry was a high rise work, human resourced and driven by process, maps and building lines. Hard times for a craft and machinery environment…Some started to think about another way of building the future, tempted by laziness or innovation oriented, there were large tracks for insights. Insights from the new revolution: digits.

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Digits came from the electronic mindset, given into new materials with new growth opportunities. Digits started to shape skills, things, objects and re-create even up to process and the whole chain of building. Then was born the digital era and the computer invasion. From energy engines to information and computers, throughout 4 pillars like interfaces, algorithms, languages and machines, we totally erased mechanics with digits theory and computer science. The simple scope where “you put, you get” is over by the fact that any input in the web right now open the whole world in a snapshot. Breathless, isn’t it?

613-2832-1-PBWe never anticipated this awesome revolution, and I think even researchers, at that times, didn’t know what kind of issue it could be. They ignored the whole and extraordinary fields of modernity we could then step into. Even education and physiological parts of brain seem today have changed, with a new ongoing learning, where you can get the answers nearly before the questions. Considering the new race for datas, speed, networks and rates, it will stay a main revolution up to the education system where digital shifted the way we learn: online courses, ongoing lessons and wikis, even our brain changed the way it stores information. While we’re able to have in one click a huge mass of knowledge, how long is it useful to store and hold datas in our brain? This is probably in fact the most visible change with our daily life on tablets, smartphones or whatever screen…How could we stand now without computers?
We saw some thrills about the next wave, were objects will contain their own self computer inside and will be able to stand as some “complex self systems” that will deal with humans, with intellection, interactive and time-real conversation. But you already know where is the “off” button, don’t you?

More about “life and computers” :

http://it.toolbox.com/blogs/locutus/life-with-computers-10346

http://www.mylifeiscomputers.net

http://ubiquity.acm.org/article.cfm?id=1217836

http://bhuddametrics.blogspot.fr/2011/12/role-of-computers-in-daily-life.html

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Trust is probably the most rare thing to win, in the battle of competition, where all offers seem similar and mainstream. And while there is crisis, increasing the need for security, truth and transparency, trust becomes an unavoidable fact and skill. But above all, the derivated effects on business are out of limits, when you know how mesure and class them into smart groups. Because, the more trust you give/put, the more you are opened to loyalty, and then addict to brand and consumption.

Bearing in mind these groups, means having dedicated actions, plans and tone to address and hold several kinds of relations, customized to reality of relation. Let’s have a look at these groups/segments and the fine tuning to get the best of them.

It’s interesting to capture all the intelligence and trust you can find on social networks. And the resources you can leverage to nurture the « social effect » until the snowball. Check at the profile you can pretend within the 4 frequent types of digital implements: leaders, pioneers, scholars or novices. Each of them has a level of maturity , in engagement, knowledge and practicing of social media. We know now how social media can leverage trust and foster all efforts done by traditional promotion. The more you facilitate and offer a whole environment of engaging with your customers, the more you’ll get a builded trust with communication and Q/A from all the community, whatever the group of participant you are in. And this, while we saw very different behaviors in the segments therefore, and the consequences on revenue, loyalty and trust. If we could resume in one main thinking is : « seed, nurture and enlight the social energy in your communities, they’ll give you back lots of engaged trust ». Personaly, I do agree and foster this behavior, and moreover it’s very enjoyable to work and exchange like that…Feeling and hold the happiness level in business, may drive you to a kind of bliss and lead the brand to another values’ environment.

1) Hazard and Doubt: it always starts with this…Do you, personnaly give anyone, from the beginning, trust? It’s quite rare to bring such trust, despite spend more time and experiences, with any brand. And the rule is on for business and ability to give more money. The best action you can lend to these “beginners”: meet them and know, at first sight, what they’re looking for…

2) Triers: OK, you triggered the first reaction and you maybe heard a few details about the brand or products and just want to try. It makes you a perfect segment to have a first exception experience, to go further. The next goal is not probably spend more, but first become a fan, to hold the relation and discover the next surprise. Triers deserve the best first promotion or sample, kind of you’ll never forget. It’s not a question of “a lot” but more a question of “the whaou effect”.

3) Price hunters: ready for any promotion, they seem to be real transparent with no particularly awareness for the brand but the price. They can spend an average part, according to the proportion of rebate, and are attracted by “shots”, deals anytime that “worths” it. Now you know that language can be “figures” and promotions for that kind of segment, becaude they focus their attention to consume “rebates” of the brand, anyshape they may be. So the question is right now to stay aside, feeding them with prices but tempting a subtile charling approach of storytelling around the prices’ universe. Unfortunately, Price and rebate is not a long term debate and can’t be the only message, valuating the brand. That segment can be shifted toward “pay-to-see” ones, who are more curious and can be lead to another story, deeper and less price-driven.

4) Hot shooters: the ultime and extremism verse of price hunters, they have only one advantage, in “build-measure-learn” process inspired from the lean management: speed. They trigger any promotion and jump on any opportunity to make a deal. Even if they don’t need sometimes, just to have impression to close a good deal and play the leader role. “I control and have an extreme footprint on the brand because I make it perform efforts and deals for me. But we all know there’s so many “fake deals” and the complete energy that brands are able to invest in, is just sometimes incredible…

5) Pay-to-See: They are very discret, don’t make any noise but stare at the brand like a curious thing, ready to try something, but don’t know what and how. They need some teaching steps that allow them to enter in relation, smartly and with “try-and-buy” process. Build some “games” or contest which give them an opportunity to start an interactive relation, with no mandatory transaction. They will decide if they enter themselves in a “payment” posture, to taste the stickability or trustiness of the brand, or simplier test an offer they identified. Choose the trigger and catch the attention may be the two keys to get into relation for them…

6) Fan: let’s say you lived on an island and never heard about “fan” or “like” fever…and can’t imagine which kind of profile we have? And of course it’s where tha value and potential is with the rationnal evolution from “Fan” to “Come backer” to “Ambassador”. The tipping point and snowball effet are not obvious to trigger and scale but is worthy enough to pay attention since the beginning. Play, engage, make them participate in any “transactional”, while they stare at the “smart” brand and are supposed to be the next first adopters. They are fans, they like the brand, but probably didn’t find any opportunity to buy. And some will stay, remaining as true “ambassadors” without consuming. Yes, it’s possible, valuable and true. Check at it!

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7) Come backers: some buy, some buy again. They are. They tried and probably are satisfied, and do it again. They start a returning relation, want to see more, consume moreover. Ok, that’s fine, you found some engaged customers to build on. Don’t miss yourself or be wrong with the message, they want your products, your relation but don’t want to be disappointed. They come from the early stages, fan or already consumer of the brand, they are not novice and probably “in the know” of the story, range or uses of the brand environment. Maybe they’re part themselves of a buyers’ environment, that guided them there. Whatever their reasons, you can rely on their relation. They did, and did it again. Not by random or foolish choice. They choose to remind you and buy your essence again. Reward them and meet their uses with your next features.

8) Ambassadors: that’s it, you are in and here we are. You achieved a performer level, having transformed mainstream customers to ambassadors. Ones that you can count on, anytime because they’re gonna be your next salesperson and your best defender. They can trigger their own advise for people who are not clients yet, convince some to jump and discover your brand and products. They are your best PR’s, arms and mouth, to spread the word about who you are, what you do and what are your values. This incredible force was far ignored before social web and has now power like never. But you know which efforts you did to bring such energy to that point of achievement. This is the ultimate step for trust, before fanatics, who could be, in a way, obsessed and dangerous. Shortly, never lose an ambassador, it could be really weaknessing your salespitch and your footprint to the community.

9) Roadies: they work hard to follow your ventures, but don’t have much revenues. They want to be at your side, in desperate long run, at all your events, doing or not, some evidences of loyalty. They like your brand, products, but for other people than their own consumption. They could be considered as “triers” in the term, but prefer be “angels”, worrying about your brand reputation and the future ongoing for you. They are “silent agent” who can give voice if they consider you in danger or being corrupted or attacked, by default. Your best “friends”, with probably less direct impact on your revenur, but keeping care of your “body”: local bodyguards, in a way…

10) Safe and Care/Admirers: the next kind is probably the most invisible, but exists. But this fact doesn’t mean that you must not stare at them, as interesting elements of your audience. They surround you, never took time or just a lift, to signal their friendship to you, but think of your brand as “cool, smart, trustable and reliable”. They have no reason to get into relation, because of lack of time, money or opportunity to get in. But they care, in an invisible “touch”. What can you consider and learn from them? The single fact that, your whole communication can sometimes risk them to be disappointed, without knowing it, so be careful for that segment too, who could wake up and give voice in the future. Voice or money, triggered by an event you can’t plan before. Just like clouds, they are energy who supports you and collaborate to your reputation, like silent witness. They deserve to be considered, like any other target, their way: “enjoy the beauty, the traction and the footprint of your brand”.

“With trust, you can raise mountains”, because you erase the last barriers to the core: the real conversation, emptied of politics, cosmetics and fakery between an environment (brand, company, organisation, people, products) and an individual. That’s where start great stories, and build a sustainable relation. That’s where we see, that relation is not only a matter of money, but lots of other things to consider, that probably in the end, grow tour business. Up to you to see and deal with it.

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I’ve been guested at the 2012 edition of the “Weimar Triangle network”, famous conference organized by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, stated in Germany in Genshagen near Berlin on 20 to 22nd of June. This new edition (the 5th since 2008) was thematically built around “Ethics, interests and democracy promotion: Europe’s difficult dealing with ‘non-democracies’”. FES is one of the six main foundations in Germany, focused on social thoughts, policies and issues, to make a better world (or at least building the real social Europe).

The spirit of the foundation was born with SPD movement in Germany, and one of its events, meeting the Weimar Triangle participants with citizen from Germany, France and Poland, out from business, education, students origins and profiles. Supposed goals were to build new social Europe, thinking of new models of development, dealing with welfare, healthcare and education supports, reducing debts to finance pensions. Yes, Europe needs a new model, a social progress protocol, and it’d better be soon. Time is running out for refinding the best social contract to link European people together, toward more cooperation, relevance and welfare. This new initiative (Weimar Triangle) allows Germany, France and Poland to build a long-term circle of thoughts, throughout different sensibilities and histories, enjoying real cooperation between actors.

The 5th edition of the conference started on 20th, in a very smart place (Genshagen Castle), with the first subject that was to define “what is a non-democracy?”, structured with :

  • how to define “democracy”?
  • what characterises “undemocratic countries”?
  • and which countries are the most problematic addresses of European foreign policies, when time is to be linked in former Europe, and temptation could be rejection so far, as crisis blowed some economies?

With Hauke Hartmann from Bertelsmann (BTI project at http://bti-project.org), moderated by Uta Dirksen from the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung fundation.

Is Democracy a unique point of view that can be definable and scalable, among many different cultures, countries and sensibilities, with the same methods? Then, how can we build a measurable booklet of rules that could be offered as a cornerstone of the whole European project? And what about sanctions for supposed “bad boys” non-democracy actors that don’t rule for respecting the guidelines and dig the deficit, so?

We’re facing a big crisis and a paradigm shift, with no solution than define and align all so called “European countries”, with rules, kind of  “codex” and values: share the same values is the base of any long term relation. Pushing faster and stronger for more regulation and rules means that WE, historic European countries can’t close eyes and ears, about our deficit and the causes that drove there. “sweep our house first”.

Which criterias might qualify “non-democracy” et how can we address the phenomena inside Europe? Seems to be a “grey zone”, an in-between space we must deal with. And we may not understand the whole truth. What references system do we want to live? How be sure the customization fits with all different cultures and imagine a linked Europe?

Hauke Hartmann sees some keys to define a democracy:

  • stateness, with force potential to defend territory, vote possibility, citizen notion definition clearly defined, laws and rights ability to function
  • participation, a collective opinion and political decision-making process
  • rule of law with civil rights, judiciary independence: the main anchor for liberal democracies

But beyond definition we must talk about “operate” all these criterias and make them alive. Real. Functioning. How governments make people participate to problem solving, how policy quality is relevant in operating their own internal affairs? …BTI project  built a strong database, comparison model, between 128 countries in the world…totally free and open source. Wild example of big data and smart work for the World agenda.

Then what about “non-democracy”? Fragile zones with lack of stateness, and/or politic control on internal operation. Provoking and spreading exclusion, terrorism, no rules referential, no ability to control/make applying a whole peace environment, no effective power to govern, no freedom or freedom expression, insecurity…And there’s unfortunately several countries we may think they are…(no name here, it’s not the exercise…). More important, how to deal when they knock at the European door? Consensus, agenda, strong position…? But moreover, which advantages to be a democracy, where is the “democracy payback” for a country to transform itself to a democracy model, for the population then?

Between identify, promote, sustain and defend, there is no other ideal than make a better welfare environment for people. Such movements like “Arab spring” for example, must see the difference in the end? “It’s not a zero sum game in raising a better life environment, when imagination has no limit where hope and motivation are the leverages every country has”.

Followed with a panel for “challenges in dealing with non-democracies: ethics, interests and supporting opposition and the difficulty search for the right way” with:

  • what would foreign policy toward non-democracies ideally look like?
  • under what circumstances is democracy promotion a legitimate objective?
  • what interests and dependencies prevent “showcase” foreign policies toward non-democracies?

Debated with Francis Perrin from Amnesty International France, Wolfram von Heynitz, MFA German and Kamil Klysinski, OSW Poland, moderated by Martin Koopmann, Stiftung Genshagen.

How Europe reacts to temptations leading to fight for rights and oblige countries to respect a democracy environment? Are we ease and ready to organize promotion, control and sanctions? Do we have so far, global operating ways to drive such a repression movement?

Yes, we have a strong responsibility, at least to ask the good questions and to show the direction, tools and process to facilitate it.

The clear notion of democracy means that we are now driven to go further and talk about human rights. If obviously, human rights is included into democracy, the reverse is not so. Human rights are some of the basic rights that facilitate the exercise and setup of concrete democracy. And if there was inside some progress about human rights, talk about it is not enough. We want facts, actions, decisions and definitive accuracy. The battle to achieve it, pass through sometimes fighting against its own economic and historic allies. And the debate is not only with politic population, but must be spread to all stakeholders: civil society, NGOs, personalities, population…It’s then a common sense subject that overcomes a narrowed political topic.

“Democracy promotion is more efficient when democracy is requested”. That seems obvious and some elements tend to prove it.  A kind of global movement drives to a more interesting result than a simple request. Democracy used to be really efficient, if really used and processed in a global shift of an economy. Tensions about energies (oil, gas…) play a major role in the relations we have with countries, and the way we address the future with them. Economic goals are so important, who cares about human rights and setup of democracy so far? We must now fight for peace between “interest” and “values”, balancing them without any consensus: no interest must compromise values that ignite and frame the democracy. Never hide behind so called “state level interests”, but dare, do and go for a class action for democracy.

Balanced situation is fragile and search for stability is very different among many countries. Statu-quo is a classical and human reaction, but we have to make “enabled” the potential for democracy mindset and the whole system that goes with. And the behaviour behind may be different when it’s urgency to act, build and make it real. And is the EU still and a relevant model for “non-democracies”?

The first day ended on this provoking concept, figuring out how questions are still there, to go further in EU, as local advisor for non members or non-democracies. We had a delicious evening for networking, digesting and enjoying the beautiful landscape of Genshagen Castle, to prepare the poursuit of the meeting.

The second day was dedicated to “case-studies” from Belarus, Iran and Arab spring, confronting and measuring the Europe’s approach with these countries, trying to enhance the democracy with delegations, missions or models.

Belarus is supposed to be the last autocracy in Europe. And it’s supposed to be weird, disturbing and a kind of urgency to shift from. Remember they received as a gift, their national existence, after collapse and breakover of old USSR. While other probably did some fight to get their. EU has limited actions right now to convince Belarus to get into change, while it’s an open door to Russia. But interests that could be identified, seem not valuable enough to push forward. Belarus has no strategic position on energy (gas, oil) comparing to Ukraine for example. EU never stopped to use “isolating politic”, to ensure and struggle Belarus from the rest of EU. But results are late from our view…and never showed any concrete improvements in international relations and in internal bulk welfare. So we may accept that recent measures failed and try other methods. With Russia, next frontier that sustains Belarus, EU is taken between “set back peace and democracy” in its own pressure and, convince Russia to organize itself the change. Influence on a non-EU country, to matter with internal EU affairs?

How long patience must be the EU’s guide? How long EU democracy environment and policies can hold the exception, and threat for human rights? We may face a really long-term “dance” but must put milestones in a blank page, to draw at least the agenda. And it may take time to put democracy on rails, including history, culture, sensibilities. “Ambition is the guide, but not too fast and too high”. That would kill any opportunity to go further.

Let’s shift to Iran with 15 years of frustration and hope between EU and Iran. Two mains issues are problematic with Iran, according to worries of EU: Human rights and nuclear tactic. Iran is in a corner, pushed away from EU between China and Russia, who cover their own interests. How, in this case, EU can play a role to make significant advances in the two main subjects? Swift bank transfers are forbidden from any country right now, to Iran and set a very frustrating system to people. But how long, China, India, Russia…will accept to do so, based on a system ordered by EU, in a zone they don’t control? Diplomatic options seem to be a long term game, where short term choices lead to fail: frustration, angriness, EU rejections, misunderstandings. Everything that is based on short term draw bad relations instead of building, from the inside, the basic elements favoured in change dealing. And the next issues on energetic choices for tomorrow, the new energies‘ Yalta could change the deal and the main pressures in the world then drive to new opportunities for democracy…?

The Arab spring could concern tomorrow, countries like Iran. A good transition to explore how Tunisia revolution started and the point of view of EU before, while and which lessons to learn. What keys can we identify of this revolution?

  • unpredictable
  • issued from “fed up”, without any former specific goal at the beginning
  • no identified form to shape, stop the movement: like things with anonymous movements (no chief, no shape…only cause)
  • techs invade and efficiency of social collaboration
  • quick: 1 month to push out after more than 25 years of dictature!

EU has been really shy facing this fast revolution, regarding the potential reactions…Why? Tunisia used to be the “good example” for the Mediterranean zone, for business, women work enhance and exchanges. Many national interests (immigration, terrorism control, business partnership with distribution…) explain the silence and the slow decision-process, for a real change in the politic power. But what is incredibly true is, whatever the landing result, the fact that a new kind of protestation, stronger, more efficient is, more than ever enabled: the social implements with Internet, collaboration and opposition platforms will never stop. They push for more transparency, gear up in decision and real-time information. And that changes everything in the ability to protest against any extreme flow to come, whatever it would be. Yes we could ask what’s best: if they had te choice now, which choice between autocracy or religious power? But the fact is that the ability in reaction or search of consensus is no way comparable to before the digital wave. And, some would better bear it in mind

The afternoon involved lots of participants into a simulation game about “Fontania”, a fictious state, lost after a supposed collapse of communist regime. Teams were organized in the context of a civil crisis after elections that turned red, with suspicious of fraud. While several riots in the streets, and a major threat about economic and social stability, the supposed “Inotian Union” (eg fictive organization that represents the different countries of the area around Fontania) is supposed to schedule a meeting with Union members in order to find a consensus disclosure of actions to get back to peace and democracy. Some played Union, others played member countries, each with their sensibility. The exercise was dealt around:

  • non formal meeting with each country to feel their own opinion of the crisis
  • see which common and separate opinions about: migration, vote regulars, human rights and economic flows
  • try for Union to set up a frame for discussion with the common points, in aim to reduce the reasons to fight
  • try for countries to defend their own interests, including the secret ones with Fontania, unmasked along the discussion
  • in the end prepare a press release with a strong consensus on what to do with Fontania, built by members, spread by Union to schedule an agenda for concrete actions

A very interesting game where entered pressure, lies, fake moves and bargaining power, all along the discussion. Personalities, and a real live role playing game to show how diplomacy is concretely difficult when it’s a matter of delicate approach to sustain peace and avoid some kind of escalade. And sometimes issuing to a very disappointing result, on the way to success, few steps later to a “weak” engagement…But common. Union was saved and peace was back in the zone…!

The third day on the morning was driven around two panels: policy instruments in dealing with non-democracies and facing introspection, with the European model.

First panel started at 9 with the first one with HG. Wieck (Ambassador) M. Davydchyk from Europe, J. Mackow (Regensburg University) about “what policy instruments in dealing with “non-democracies”? Yesterday was the opportunity to learn about for example Belarus and Iran, and EU policy pressuring economic outcomes to lead these countries toward more democracy. But sanctions must be the last chance, if we assume the discussion behaviour first, and try to find stability. Sanctions are only a part of the whole range of tools, and may be planned after warnings, efforts and diplomacy game. And in the end, they may be not efficient, having short term effects, but not “effective” in a long term strategy. Foreign policy obliges to be credible for a country, and having a stable internal policy first. We are in a global transformation in the Europe zone and justice, social and economic stability must be searched at all prices. Which allies and which influences around, after collapse of cold war? Since then, diplomacy, discussion and democracy were the drivers for this global policy, and build Europe. No sanctions were even planned in this steady process. This long-term approach supports no opportunism, as it makes no sense of credibility. “Neighbourhood policy” seems to be the next 50 years policy, to start cooperation, mark steps in democracy elections, stateness, foreign exchange, education cooperation, in short all the tools leading to a real liberal market economy. Trust, beliefs and motivation: any partner must have to believe and want it, to success. And civil society plays a strong role in it: NGOs, people, associations, social communities and use it. Mindset changes switch faster right now, because information goes faster too. Hold the old EU model may be out of time, because EU has never been finished, even if the ambition was there, the complexity to govern and push further will probably out of reach, versus the bilateral relations between countries. “What we failed huge, some may succeed in a more local way”. EU seems a too much “big picture” to handle, finally. Is it a reason to give up? Probably not, but a reason to proceed another way…

Another example is given again with Belarus, but this time from the inside, showing the press expression from the internal side. And finally, after these sanctions, not really understood, Belarus resumes as: but what exactly EU wants? Clear goals? Common goals and legitimacy of EU? Monopoly on the definition of common values, while they may be discussed? Irrational EU policy from Minsk point of view? Non common idea about “cooperation”? respect of internal sovereignety of Belarus?

Speaking about operational set up, how to use instruments as: inspection by NGOs/external authorities, penalties, value consensus, information blackout, economic sanctions? To conclude, and while Belarus is not really interested in entering into EU, the main core action could be to increase the economic and trade exchanges, and a road to information, the spread up of “social networks” as real information, benchmark and sparkle of protestation.

The second panel with L. Greven (Die Zeite) and G. Schuch (CCE Europe) leads us to introspection and focus on the European model: “is Europe a model?”

Between Hungary, Russia and Belarus positions and extreme sensibilities (left/right sides), Europe is fast changing. Despite the € crisis, Europe must be saved at all prices. But it depends of which “Europe” we’re talking about? This awesome project was build on the rejection of war, economic stability and cooperation and security of goods, frontiers, people and interests. The underlying principles that were built with financial power, drove to bankruptcy in Greece and lead us to lessons. Time is for lessons. But which lessons for the youngest people…Do they have to pay for a system failure they didn’t decide about? How can we sustain motivation for education level, knowledge improvements and find a job? And which jobs, with a desperate rising rate of unemployment…sometimes leading to suicide, the last step after despair and no future?

Yes Europe is now unfortunately characterized by unemployment, growth breakup and a great interrogation: How long do we stand such a model and what about a new “wake-up”?

Let’s focus now on Hungary, and a very debated notion of “democracy”: what’s from inside? Modernity? Seems media laws don’t match with the real idea of democracy and freeness of information. How can we deal and judge this “non-democracy” as we value it, according to EU values? A very sensible problem that needs a strong willingness from the inside, accepting that “compromise” can be considered as a failure for the actual politic instances. But the actual rising youthness may be the solution. The opposition is building a concrete framework of comparison, organize protestation and follow up little steps that sustain hope. The media supremacy will explode as new media (social) rises up and allows people to spread opposition. But what worths more: EU intervention (but which model now, after the crisis to propose?) or few steps with regional allies to convince in a medium term to recover more democracy? Neighbours vs hegemony or a mixed approach may drive better results.

Concluding and wrap-up, with take away, and feedbacks are lead by Uta Dirksen and Barbara Kunz, from the foundation. Friedrich Ebert Foundation is aware of any remark, through these five editions, that have evolved along several propositions, different audiences and speakers, and according to actuality. We brought lots of ideas to make it real and in our times, aiming to stick closer to Europe’s deals for tomorrow. That’s exactly how I thought and feel about European cooperation ; what we just can imagine and share, between young actors must be possible and scalable in others dimensions. “The more we speak, share and listen, the more we build a common diary with values that grow the whole creation”. Let’s stay linked and spread our mindset, to hold the exercise, frequently.

I really liked the form, speakers and sharing with multi-cultural environment. The networking and collaborative spirit was there to make it a concrete brotherhood leverage for a better Europe, from European citizens, whatever their jobs, origin and perspectives. These kinds of “think tank” can really take off if they success to bring ideas to the table and turn them to operational implementations with diplomatic, NGOs, civil society and citizens. There no other idea that “ideas” that make sense and Europe more alive, concrete and modern. When we don’t remember anymore, why Europe and its roles, we may not forget that EU will work from impulse, from anywhere to achieve the goals EU tries to believe in. Fortunately, initiatives like this reconciles people, thinkers and citizens with politic mindset and recover a role in the economic landscape.

I was passionate to participate to, and will do it again, if any opportunity occurs for me. Sure, I’ll do…

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Fairy, funny but no tale about the fact that no company exists without customers. And if sometimes, boss turnover seems to be a sporting challenge for shareholders, customer can’t wait. And may have the last word. It’s finally if you understand it, when you will make great deals, those called “win-win”, with the genuine relation between someone who has needs you can afford. And if sometimes your real boss tries to make it his own way, remind him that he can’t exist without customers…Everybody in his company might be confronted with this and face, hold and build the true relevant relation. Because, customer is the boss in fact, and the matter of anybody in the company. And it seems urgent to see, integrate and share the concept inside companies, to deliver different ways. Why does it seem so strange and how handle it?

  • the customer rarely needs you, he has several others choices, in a single snap he can switch and forget you ever
  • the business is growing on average consumption with either, more customers, more loyalty or raising the level of engagement: in any case, you do need customers…any customer but customers!
  • loyalty is not a concept that you can organize in your corner, thinking (hoping?) it will work: ask customers first why/how he would be more loyal, and build the wrap around…
  • the customer knows much more you ever imagine about your market and your products, and value your service: don’t forget he compares live, all the offer of the market for you. If he gives you an advise, he’s probably less blind than you!
  • even if you think “customer doesn’t know what he wants or what is good for him”, his/her help would be precious, targeting the next big picture. If you build something with him for he’s already part of it, why won’t he buy then?
  • “the more he builds, the more he’s fan”: if he’s “part” of it, he’ll be the best ambassador/advocate for your values, products and services…
  • build the “customer Stockholm Syndrom“: make him part of your story where emotion takes part of your relation and make him kind of painful of your difficult story. In pain and need will grow innovation, together…
  • in some ways, as the customer says how much he is OK/able to pay for your different propositions, he’s quite establishing your salary level: and in this way too, he’s your boss…
  • If you can passion him/her with your own passion, brand and value, he’ll become your best ambassador and outcompete agent for virality: the new media we talk about, socially correct, truthly and trusty…
  • engage with your community and encourage and reward the “social search”. Because you trust more deeply ones you know
  • don’t be shy or afraid with any enpowerment of your customers: the energy they hit for you has no price for you, comparing with resources and money you should spend for the same result…
  • know how to reward: if your customers have to become your boss, give them their salary…
  • run your business, have a business but run and build it with your customers, because they have willingness and motivation to buy your products, speak about them and hold the direction ; like the real boss…
  • like Sam Walton saidThere is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else“. I guess Wal Mart knows how to cope with it, don’t you think?

Assets, partners, friends, loyalty heroes, anyway the name you give to customers, think about your own relation, your own “stunt show”, celebrate success with them like associates to your success. “No success in business without mess with your guests” could be your last quote for community with your best assets. Don’t miss any opportunity to raise satisfaction, happiness and loyalty with your customers, they represent a silent force (while I don’t know if we can say this anymore with social communities!) that can improve your market approach, your sales feeling and ability to shoot first, accurate and focused needs, which will save time and money. Money you’ll be able to invest in this brand new other relation with your new allies…a perfect circle of business, without thinking of business and having much fun and pleasure…

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Here it goes, here it is. The power of business is so important now, that the way we drive “relations” is no really efficient confronted with private efforts, taking markets, shares and business stakes. Long is sometimes the road for public diplomacy but the real angels now are more blue boss than politic icons. When you stare for example at Indian area and the crossroad to complicated relations with Pakistant, Russia and China in the same zone, we saw the importance of the last first trade exposition, focused with the influence of business private sector in the tough situation in stranger policy. More and more, economy and trade lead the diplomatic relationship in this area, and drive the international scene. Why?

The enforced moves with several organization (world trade, trade chambers, huge world companies with stakes strategy…) generate an interesting return on “investment”, more efficient than slow diplomatic shifts. the development of local markets, even if local represents in these areas, very important zones and high potential. Because trade shows real issues and useful outcomes to people, companies and organization while politic swamp into long and whispered relations, that bring on difficulty to advance safe, with no backtricks.

We can reinstall the famous quote “think global BUT act local”. Any fair and peaceful matter is now a kind few local acts of smart trade improvements that makes the wheel turning. And the most influencer as a ministry may be the trade minister of any regular and democratic country. Average class of citizen is growing fast in any corner of the world and is hungry for consumption, modernity and innovation. They in fact lead the growth and make the things happen: buy, share thoughts and opinions faster than any politic entity. The more we believe in our faith to local innovation and the fewest trade act, the more we step forward in a kind of silent diplomacy, finding its path to more exchange and democracy. Fair trade has been created as a volontee movement to go fairest and create fast, cheap and useful trade places in local, where politics never went anymore. Forget about stocks, think deals and moreover, connections between people, things and fair currency. And when polls comes in, be careful of “useful poll”, the one that creates employment and justice throughout the world.

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