Performance, openness, creativity... Tenzing Conseil reinvents consulting in operational strategy.
What is a “Next Generation Enterprise” for you?
For me, a Next Generation Enterprise is a company that is trying to break with past hierarchical and governance models that have shown their limits and on which there is scope to innovate, with objectives that every entrepreneur will set for themselves.
There is no universal objective, but there’s a desire to innovate around the environment, society, governance, how to treat all stakeholders, in short, another way of approaching capitalism.
What is the manager’s role in this Next Generation Enterprise?
Leadership by hierarchy induces a mode of communication which is often rather top-down. On the part of the collaborators who are managed, it induces little autonomy or respect for what one can say, what one can be, what one cannot say.
Next Generation Management, participatory leadership or through legitimacy, is a leadership that will:
- try to make the employee grow,
- involve him or her,
- take into account who he or she is,
in order to be able to work with him or her instead of leaning on him or her.
There is a form of respect, there is a whole set of values and recognition of the uniqueness of the other that ensures that in a collective, we can work better together.
What actions can be taken to create trust, from the top down but also from the bottom up?
We can see in our own company that the respect for the uniqueness of the other is one of the avenues to explore.
In management, one person shares a certain amount of directives and knowledge with another and that sharing also benefits the person sharing the information. It’s a form of reverse mentoring whereby you are not the sole bearer of truth, but you share a point of view and enrich it with the person who is in front of you.
It’s about respect, listening, and debating. It involves the ability to trust the other person and thus grant them the right to make mistakes, the ability to express opinions. Even if they don’t have all the context on the subject, their opinion will at least enrich the overall debate.
As for benevolence, it is a term that is often misunderstood.
People often confuse benevolence with kindness.
That has nothing to do with it.
Benevolence, when misused, can turn into cowardice, being afraid to share your real thoughts, but saying what others want to hear. In that sense, it can be akin to running away from responsibilities.
For me, being benevolent is being demanding but respectful. One must be able to talk to the other and trust that the other can hear everything, provided that it is expressed clearly.
Why is the subject of a company’s purpose so important for a Next Generation Enterprise?
It’s becoming very important because there’s a growing pressure. There’s no such thing as angelism. Entrepreneurs or capitalism do not suddenly discover that it is necessary to do good for society.
I think there is a form of global pressure that is being put around two issues.
1- The Climate Emergency
The first is the climate emergency. The environmental emergency that makes capitalism realise that, without taking the environment into account and without improving its involvement in its environmental ecosystem, it is losing itself because it puts in place mechanisms that will destroy it.
If tomorrow we have 10% of the population that has to move because the sea level has risen, for example, it will create a disorganization that will just destroy all the problems of capitalist logistics. There is both the climate emergency and the environmental emergency which is a matter of survival so that capitalism can continue to function.
2- The Social Divide
And then there’s the social divide. Capitalism, of course, has in the past succeeded in providing access to consumption for most of the population and thus reduced poverty. But at the same time, it allowed massive wealth to be concentrated in the hands of a few.
That creates fractures that are no longer bearable because, as we saw in France with the yellow vests, it creates social movements, it creates discontent, it creates resentment that, tomorrow, will affect all the traditional capitalist circuits.
So the imperatives of survival, the imperatives of sustainability, mean that now capitalism has to consider these environmental data, these social data, to participate in a desirable future in which they will benefit.
We often talk about return on investment, what are the risks of not investing in sustainable capitalism?
There is the return on investment and the risk of not investing. It is clear that today, there is a risk to not investing because if we don’t act, we’re heading for disaster.
Now the risk of investing is to think that there are two types of companies.
There are companies that are natively aware of this. Tenzing, for example, was created on a why. We were created on a New Generation Enterprise mode. As such, it’s safe to invest in sustainable capitalism because you know who you are from the start.
On the other hand, for traditional companies that have made the choice to transform and switch to new governance, to a new way of behaving, the risk of transforming is a risk of accumulating transformation costs in the short term with the hope of being profitable in the medium term.
This tension between the certainty of a short-term cost and the uncertainty of medium-term profitability creates a kind of shyness that characterizes this transformation risk. There’s really a risk in moving towards this transformation towards sustainable capitalism because you know what you’re losing right now, but you don’t know what you’re gaining in the future, whereas those who are natively like that have demonstrated that social performance leads to economic performance.
The above interview was recorded during the 2020 edition of The NextGen Enterprise Summit.