7 Jul 2018

Disrupting to Rule

Debate 7

A disruptive approach is based on the triptych of creativity, boldness and non-conformism.

At the heart of this triptych are breakthrough (and therefore major) innovations, be they new technologies, new products or services, new forms of economic and social organization. Schumpeter was right to give a very broad sense to the concept of innovation, and it should be further broadened today.

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Insofar as disruption means discontinuity and non-linearity, it is difficult for its initiator, whether public or private, local or global, to carry out a reliable ex ante cost/benefit analysis. There are too many sources of uncertainty; possible scenarios are extremely difficult to imagine, in principle, and the calculation of probabilities is rarely applicable. Even though the innovative, the bold and the non-conformist can, prior to being imitated and followed, benefit a rent for a certain time (patent or no patent, the point here is more general), there are also cases where it is preferable to be a follower in disruption rather than an initiator.

To rule over whom, or what? In the long term, real power lies in ideas: most major innovations result from breakthrough thinking. This statement should not underestimate the importance of people management or “the administration of things”– especially since management and administration methods do not come from nowhere. They are themselves influenced by paradigms dictated by conventional or, conversely, breakthrough situations. All this does not contradict the role of regulation/innovation dialectic present in nearly all areas of economic and social life: regulations provoke a significant part of the innovations designed precisely to circumvent them, and the latter require adjustments in regulations and other forms of public policy. A dynamic that is almost conciliatory, beyond the apparent conflict, given that everyone may have the opportunity to “rule” – or to think that they rule – at a given moment resulting from the privilege of initiative. …

The disruptive approach concerns all entities in charge of strategic decisions: individuals, companies, various types of associations (including NGOs) and public decision-makers at all possible levels. Today, with public authorities and private companies, disruption also means the transition towards new forms of governance: forms intended to more effectively reconcile the concern for economic efficiency, social balance and the democratic operation of organisations. One sign of such an ambition, among others, is the growing importance given to the transparency and accountability mechanisms.


Christian de BOISSIEU


Cercle des économistes




Editorial director and columnist

Le Monde







Bertrand PICCARD

Founder & Chairman

Solar Impulse Foundation


Philippe WAHL

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Le Groupe La Poste

All the speakers