It is indeed a cultural problem that is identified by this question. Indeed, French entrepreneurship is a mixture of competition within its own economic fabric and wishful thinking about collective commitment. Contemporary colbertism, which we have discussed in particular through the possible synergies with France Relance, can largely contribute to coherent operations in their collective dimensions. This type of operation is all the more sound in that equivalents are already widely practiced by the Germans, but also by Chinese economic strategists. So how is this organized? What would need to change to become strong as a group and deploy an economic offensive around the VSOs and thanks to the Vital Secondary Operators (VSOs)?
Business diplomacy: new practice or art of negotiation?
Dialogue and developing trust. This is the cornerstone of an economic offensive that allows the company to develop, while ensuring that the community to which it belongs also benefits. To a certain extent, it is a matter of diplomacy between different actors, both on the national territory, but also in European relations, and even beyond.
During our analysis of the French economic fabric (end of 2020), carried out with young companies or companies that had already been established for some time, we sought to understand why this necessity was not assimilated. We sought to understand the reasons for the blockage, for this intellectual and managerial resistance linked to economic intelligence and to the set of rules that govern power relations in the economy, more or less dirigiste but always with the vocation of power and the defense of lifestyles, of autonomy. In short, of this word that has become fashionable in recent weeks: Sovereignty.
There is, on the French territory, a set of companies able to join forces to prospect large-scale projects by being much more offensive and opportunistic. Indeed, a project is nothing more or less than a need, sometimes complex, which may require sophisticated interventions. Until now, for this kind of operations, companies with a certain dimension and maturity called upon “business developers” (not to be confused with salesmen) in order to audit, analyze and build the project.
But in this context of urgency intrinsic to the K takeover, it is more sustained skills that are required and quite new profiles of business diplomat. As for the diplomat of a country, the latter relies heavily on sociological knowledge and also on the strategic information he can obtain (i.e. Open Source Intelligence, Grey Information, Influence, etc.). In other words, nothing new under the sun, just an assimilation of methods and tools that were initially used for the public dimension and that now supply private actors.
Domestic market: moving from French to European, then to global
Just like the assimilation of strategies, methods and practices related to public affairs, the private sector is faced with the pressing need to break out of its geographically limiting logic. Too often we hear that digital transformation has clearly accelerated thanks to the first containment, but we forget that digitalization sees its full potential only under two conditions: the rigorous exploitation of structured and useful information, as well as the change of paradigm related to distances and human relationships. Moreover, the financial sector has perfectly assimilated it because during this period, the big investment banks such as Goldman Sachs or BNP Paribas have carried out a very large number of commercial agreements using videoconferencing and electronic signature tools, but also the use of drones.
In concrete terms, distance is no longer a problem in this day and age and it is unfortunate that the French management shortcomings, i.e. the pseudo-pyramidal pseudo-silos organization, is still a scam. Yes, the agile method, agile management, agile tools are on everyone’s lips. No, these practices are not deployed. The reason? Agility is based on the extension of the environment in a transverse way and on the use of project mode management. A project is, as we mentioned in our first part, a concentration of interests in order to obtain a business result.
However, today, as a good Gauloise, the French company rarely sees beyond its street, its city or its region in the best of cases. Its relationship with foreign countries is diffuse, even if the fact is much more nuanced among the Y generations running companies. Our ancestors the “Gauls” have done their time, especially after the defeat against Rome more than 2000 years ago, so it would be quite natural to take a closer look at the actions as a Frenchman. And this is on the condition that we show a little tolerance for the retarded nature of perception, because today’s era is a multi-polar, multi-cultural era of complex alliances with a new corpus: the European!
It is by considering the reality of its territory of exercise that we can speak of an economic offensive. The theater of operations is not in the neighborhood, in the city or in the region, or even in France. But on a European scale. And more specifically, on the scale of the various large economic zones that have developed over the decade. The United States has succeeded in limiting itself to its vast territory by blurring all business relations with all other nations under President Donald Trump, this has accelerated a fascinating process and given life to new axes: The RCEP (Regional Competitive Economic Partnership) brings together 15 Asian countries and 30% of the world’s GDP, the AfCTA (African Continental Free Trade Area) facilitates transactions and free trade between 54 of the 55 countries of the African continent and starts in 2021, and we can also keep in mind the alliances related to the BRI (Belt & Road Initiative or New Silk Road) that have sealed powerful alliances between China and Russia with an exceptional game of scale, not to mention the new configuration of the Middle East around Israel and the United Arab Emirates.
Strategic companies, supported by governmental diplomatic initiatives and also acquiring unprecedented skills in diplomacy and business intelligence, are springing up all over the world… and the French company is wondering about its Gallic claims? In the K recovery, there is a curve that should experience strong growth and another that will mostly experience liquidation and impoverishment of employees, mass casualization. In your opinion, will it be those who want to isolate themselves in their neighborhoods who will emerge victorious or those who will have made alliances to play on a larger scale?
We will focus on the need to have the key information to build a relevant and viable agreement, in a tense context of economic warfare, around February 1