The Pitfall of Assumptions in Forecasting: Lessons from “Losing the War with Japan”

In the realm of economic and geopolitical forecasting, the pitfalls of assumptions can prove both humbling and enlightening. A striking example of this can be found in the Frontline report titled “Losing the War with Japan,” which takes us back to a moment in 1991 when prevailing beliefs about Japan’s economic supremacy and America’s decline were pervasive.  


Why rich peoples’ whims are useful for innovation

What do rich people do when they are bored? They embark on an innovation project. Conquer Mars, cross the Atlantic, extend human life, invent fundamental artificial intelligence, create a robot, etc. As an expression of their promoters’ ego, these projects are often considered useless and qualified as whims, i.e. a capricious and unreasonable envy. But is it so sure? What if (some of) the whims of today were the useful innovations of tomorrow? What if we should be careful not to pass moral judgment on both what is being done (useless!) and on those who are doing it (the rich and their whims)?


The performance of organizations is a societal issue – My new piece on the Drucker Forum blog

Business performance is often perceived as having no societal impact. It seems to be a strictly financial matter and to concern only its shareholders, and nobody else, and as such is even morally suspect for some. We are happy for the company that has good results, and we may suspect that is at done at the expense of society. Yet, the performance of businesses, and more generally that of organizations, is a major societal issue, an observation made by Peter Drucker, and still relevant today.

Read the rest of the piece on the Global Peter Drucker Forum’s blog here.

Redefining strategy for uncertain times: Learning from Apple’s 1997 Turnaround

The Covid shock in the spring of 2020 shattered strategic plans. The continuing uncertainty, exacerbated two years later by the invasion of Ukraine, has led some executives to question the very possibility of having a strategy when everything keeps changing. Are we living in a post-strategy world? The short answer is no; we need strategy more than ever, but it depends on how you define strategy. The Apple turnaround in 1997 provides a useful lesson.


The market as a living institution: Why Adam Smith must be rehabilitated

[French version here]

Ask anyone with some knowledge of economics about Adam Smith, and they will probably tell you that the great economist is the symbol of unbridled and dehumanized capitalism, with his famous “invisible hand”, which seems to turn us into machines at the mercy of a mechanism that escapes us, and his promotion of selfishness. This is the idea that I myself had for a long time. Yet, this view does not reflect his writings, which instead promoted the market as a living institution governed by ethics. Given Smith’s importance in economic thought, and at a time when the societal role of business and the market is in question, it is important that the debate not be based on a caricature of his thinking.