economy of l&1TP3Q039;innovation

Meeting with Alain Laraby, author of the "Invisible Production Factor".

Alain Laraby has just published a book by UP' entitled "The Invisible Factor of Production". This book is the paper edition of the article which, in UP' Magazine, caused a big stir on the web. 
We have known Alain Laraby and his work for several years, and share his environment of thought not against the main stream, but what is adjacent to them, secant, divergent, parallel, and moreover polyphonic, so much does it give an account of this spirit in freedom: at once creative, political and poetic, mediator and demanding in a deep acquaintance with the laws, benevolent, ironic and lucid. UP' is happy to present here the ideas and the man.  

 What prompted this recent publication work?

It's a feeling that's becoming increasingly vivid in my activities to see how far France has fallen behind in terms of mentalities. Everything gives the impression that this country has lost the ability to generate innovation.  
Three personal experiences speak for themselves.
When I was a parliamentary assistant, I had proposed to some elected representatives to carry out a comparative study of the legislation of various countries in order to assess the relevance of a reform project. I was told that there was no point in doing so. 
Solicitor in London, I had discovered the effectiveness of the procedures of settlements out of courtThis is the first time that the Bank's financial policy has been amended to include financial penalties for refusing to trade. I had written an article on the English Code of Procedure, with concrete examples. I sent it to a well-known French legal journal, which did not even bother to reply to me, as if this country had nothing to learn from others, while procedures, particularly mediation procedures, are still skating on the edge of formalism and wishful thinking.
When I later worked as a diplomat at the Quai d'Orsay, I discovered, there again, how a Ministry, in principle open to the world, has remained impervious to new ways of thinking. I am thinking in particular of American-style negotiation methods and game theory, of which more than twelve authors have been awarded the Nobel Prize. Complete indifference, with the implicit feeling: "we're at home and we know everything", and we know all the more because we come from a certain school that makes graduates believe they have acquired the fibre of a creator. Contract workers seemed to me to be more aware of the world than public servants who take pride in their formatting. Uniformity of thought produces errors and blockages. 

What did you get out of it?
Nothing at first, except a sigh. Then, a reflection on the causes of the French maladjustment to innovation. In this article, I chose one of them, immaterial, which I called the invisible factor of production.

 Can you elaborate?
Everyone knows the traditional factors of production such as capital and labour. The invisible factor of production is not, in my view, at the margin of these factors. It is, on the contrary, at the centre, but we do not see it, or at least we do not take it seriously. By invisible production factor, I mean not only confidence in a company, but also, and above all, the intermingling of profiles and experiences. This factor is an essential success factor in private enterprise as well as in public administration. There is nothing like this kind of cross-fertilization in order to work together to find solutions to mistakes and to find solutions that would otherwise be unthinkable.
Post-war French philosophy had perceived the need for different arrangements, but its hostility to the market did little to benefit the economy. The invisible factor of production enters, alongside technical progress, into the residue that explains growth. Without it, not even technical progress can but.

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This residue is invisible?
My approach is neither sociological nor economic. It is not about the factual, the measurable, but about the impalpable, the virtual that has real effects. It responds to an intuition that others share, notably Scott E.Page who published a book in the United States in 2007 entitled " The Difference or How the power of diversity creates better groups, firms, schools and society". The approach is qualitative, but it does not exclude mathematics, including combinatorics and the use of probabilities. I have added to this reflection my own figures, including a Riemann surface. The eye can perceive the path of innovation in organizations that take advantage of multiple arrangements where the ephemeral and the unexpected create more than productivity: sparks of dynamics! 
Some people say: "It's a good thing we've met a thousand people in our lives! The company and the administration are happy to have realized in her the mixture by integrating and crossing personalities with the most heterogeneous backgrounds. Entrepreneurial freedom begins with this unprecedented ability to innovate.
Jean Monnet's diverse career path includes being a cognac merchant abroad from a very young age, a banker in California and China, an administrator with the Allies during the two World Wars, promoter of the French Plan, and finally a very effective lobbyist to get the idea of Europe off the ground. The authorities, private and public, who were able to use all his talents and experience, had no reason to complain. They preferred to call on this man rather than to cultivate an intellectual monoculture. Specialists and graduates are needed, but they must be mixed with non-experts, as Jean Monnet himself knew how to do.

So what now?    
I have just finished another text, "Tartufferie and economic misanthropy".

A preview presentation for UP' readers?
It is a complement to the first text. Here I am not following the thoughts of an American author, but of a Frenchman, the former CEO of Suez and Crédit Lyonnais' turnaround manager, Jean-Pierre Peyrelevade, who wrote in 2014 "History of a neurosis. France and its economy. "I always wonder about the causes that hinder this country, some of which are again invisible, such as the inability to grasp the facts. In France, we prefer the beautiful and the coherent, and we ignore the imperfection of the world.
This trait of mind, which makes it possible to shine on television and in the living room, is the effect, it seems to me, of an excess of centralization. Centralism produces generalization as much as over-taxation. The taste for the general (in the form everything is, all are, etc.) blurs the perception of the leaders. The ill-considered weight of taxation has been damaging trade and the vitality of the country for ages. We don't have oil, we have ideas. It is no better. It is better to know how to describe a fact.
This text takes the form of more or less theatrical anecdotes. Molière is in the spotlight as well as Rimbaud. An analysis is presented in appendices, with figures here again. I have called one of them the French "variété" song, variety being to be taken in the topological sense. It's a bit of bad humor, in spite of myself. In conclusion, I take care of myself by making three recommendations to go beyond easy and intoxicating criticism. These recommendations will be thrown in the basket.


From the invisible factor to this new opus, what led you to these positions?
Probably my polyculture, being myself at the crossroads of several religions and cultures, inherited but also wanted. All my life, I have never stopped going out of myself to become myself. As Goethe says, it takes several eyes to see (" wir brauchen mehrere Augen um zu sehen ").
In the two texts we talked about, I mixed literary and scientific culture, style and geometry. I wanted to break with the autistic discourse of literary people who have no interest in science, even though science dominates today's thinking. In the same way, I avoided the discourse of the scientist or the engineer who only offers hieroglyphics to be deciphered. The texts undoubtedly also reflect other interests as well as my stays abroad, having always been convinced that it is necessary to travel, as so many others have done in the past, to understand the place where one was born, its limits and its qualities. 
As the philosopher Saint-Simon advised at the beginning of the 19th century, one must have known, not only other customs, but also other ways of living in one's own society. I would add that one must also remember to cultivate other parts of oneself, by exploring one's subconscious and practising the arts that link body and mind. You create, ultimately, your own cauldron in which your personality is gradually being forged. Everyone will be surprised, you first! We remain, if we want, alchemists, preparing within us, with care, all the possible transmutations... 

Remarks collected by the editorial staff of UP' Magazine
Alain Laraby is an international mediator, accredited in London by the London Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and in Paris by the Association of European Mediators. He is also a consultant and director of a foreign company in the energy sector. 
He is a member of the French-speaking group within the framework of the International Diplomatic Academy project. He teaches negotiation and lobbying in the light of "game theory". He writes in various literary, political, philosophical and scientific journals.

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