What Is and What Is Not, Part 1

Interview with Luc de Brabandere, Author of The Forgotten Half of Change
By Vern Burkhardt
"You not only need to change the reality of your situation, you also need to change your perception of this reality." It's the second change "that really counts."

Vern Burkhardt (VB): How long have you been a senior partner and managing director in the Paris office of The Boston Consulting Group?

photo of Luc de BrabandereLuc de Brabandere: I started on 01/01/01, which may appear to be a strange answer. It's a binary answer, and it's easy for me to remember.

VB: Would you talk about The Boston Consulting Group, and the services you provide?

Luc de Brabandere: We deal with strategy. In the world there are 3 leading consulting firms helping develop strategy. They are McKinsey & Company, Bain & Company, and The Boston Consulting Group.

VB: You work with the very large companies?

Luc de Brabandere: Yes, absolutely. Our primary targets are blue chip and worldwide corporations.

VB: Do you work with governments as well?

Luc de Brabandere: We deal more with governments in Europe than elsewhere. I work in the Paris office and we have started working more and more for governments. There has been a slow change in mentality. Twenty years ago it was not possible for a government to work with a strategy consultant. The situation has changed and now we are starting to develop this kind of work.

Now we are doing some government work in the U.S. For example, there has been consulting work with the Obama administration related to the car industry.

VB: And it's possible for governments to think about long term strategy?

Luc de Brabandere: They have to. Now they're in charge of the environment, climate change, and financial regulations. These are long-term issues they are forced to deal with, and maybe that's one of the reasons they are now using our services.

VB: Are most of your personal clients located in France?

Luc de Brabandere: Yes. I am from Belgium. I'm based in Brussels and I'm talking to you from Brussels. I was appointed Vice President of our Paris office; it's one hour and twenty minutes by train so it's very possible to commute.

Most of my clients are in France, but for 25% of my clients I try to connect to world organizations in other countries for several reasons. First, in order to be good at my job I have to see and experience diversity. If I were to only work for large French corporations I would be an expert only about large French large corporations, and I don't want to be restricted in my perspective. So I need to go elsewhere; I need to travel. I try to connect to and be involved in projects all over the world, because I need to keep learning.

The other reason is I try to disseminate my knowledge and experience throughout the whole organization. I'm 61 so I must be one of the oldest in the entire company. One of my priorities is to teach the new generation about my ideas.

VB: It's good succession planning.

Luc de Brabandere: Even though I feel I can work another 20 years!

VB: When you were the manager of the Brussels Stock Exchange were you aware of the forgotten half of change?

Luc de Brabandere: No, and I love the question. I've never been asked this question before. This is one of the key questions of my life, and I will try to answer it as best as I can.

I started my career in banking as a computer specialist. I spent about 15 years in the bank working on computer systems for trading and dealing rooms, and that's the reason I was sought out by a head hunter to become chairman of the Brussels Stock Exchange.

During my stay at the bank I had already started my brainstorming activities. Any time there was a brainstorm to be run at the bank I was a candidate for that job. Perhaps I ran something like 50 brainstorms within the bank, and I did so with a lot of energy, joy and success. The employees who attended my sessions enjoyed them, and I earned a good reputation.

I wrote my first two books about creativity while I was still working in the bank, but I didn't understand why my approach to brainstorming was good. I didn't understand the theories behind what I was doing. When I asked myself why they were good sessions, I had no answer.

When I quit the Brussels Stock Exchange I wanted to answer the questions, "Why is brainstorming successful?" and "How can you ensure their success?" To answer this I had to delve deeply into the roots of thinking so I studied philosophy. I had graduated as an Engineer in Computer Science a long time before, and then I studied philosophy! I went back to school with students who were the same age as my children. I spent one day each week for 9 years, and I slowly began to understand what creativity is, what makes a brainstorm work so well. I finally understood what I had been doing with brainstorming sessions, and that is the forgotten half of change.

So, the answer to your question is no, I was not aware of the forgotten half of change. I had to discover it through study.

VB: If you had known, would it have helped you improve your creativity at the time as a leader?

Luc de Brabandere: Probably, and that's connected to the fact I am a Belgian. In Belgium the market is small, and you never become famous. You can never become a world-class public speaker or a full time consultant on your own.

I had to work in the bank and a lot of other jobs, because I couldn't quickly become a philosopher. I was forced to grow slowly and that's the good news because I accumulated a lot of business experience. When I joined The Boston Consulting Group they saw my creativity skills on the one hand, and on the other they realized how many years I'd spent in their world. I was connected to many large corporations. If I had been born in Paris it probably would have been a faster process. Maybe at 35 I would have been known as a creativity specialist and I would have been aware of the forgotten half of change.

VB: Were you at the Stock Exchange during its transition to digital? What were some of the challenges in making that change?

Luc de Brabandere: Yes, I was there.

It was very easy because the Brussels Stock Exchange was about to disappear. In volume of trades and dollars traded it was about 2% of the London exchange. So in becoming digital the result was obvious – it would disappear. It was not useful anymore as it was much too expensive.

I was in charge of the disappearing Brussels Stock Exchange! My message was, "I am here to make you disappear." It was unpleasant, so I left because that was not me. I do not like to do that type of thing. Some people can do it well. After I left the Brussels Exchange it merged with Paris and then became NYSE Euronex, but you will know that story.

VB: So that was a negative aspect of change.

Luc de Brabandere: Yes, digitalization had little good news for Belgium in terms of its stock exchange.

cover of InfoducsVB: When you published Infoducs (English translation is Infoducts) in 1984 what were some of the observations you made that are still applicable today?

Luc de Brabandere: I am particularly proud of this book, which was published 25 years ago. It's a description of the Internet.

I had the chance to go to an exhibition about new technologies in Japan, where I spent two months and saw information and images about the new networks. I realized all networks would merge one day. This was the message of the book.

I coined the word "infoducs," and it really happened. Twenty years later there was an article in a Brussels publication, which said, "Yes, he was right. Infoducs. What he predicted was about to be."

VB: You predicted that dramatic technological change, and forecast people's wide acceptance of it.

Luc de Brabandere: Voilà! The book was never translated to English because, as you know, the Gulf Stream together with the North Atlantic Drift, the Stream's northern extension towards Europe, flows from the U.S. to Europe, not the other way around.

cover of The Forgotten Half of ChangeFor Europeans it's very hard to publish in the U.S., and I didn't have a single chance to publish Infoducs in the U.S. The reason The Forgotten Half of Change was published in America was because it had the support of The Boston Consulting Group in New York and Boston. It's nearly impossible for a lone European to have a book published in the U.S.

VB: That is most unfortunate because there are many wonderful thinkers in Europe. Getting a flow of their ideas, information and messages the other way against the Gulf Stream would be of great benefit.

Luc de Brabandere: Maybe it will happen due to climate change, but I am not sure!

One of the reasons I joined The Boston Consulting Group was to solve this problem, and it has worked to a degree. I recently wrote a small perspective called Thinking in New Boxes, How to Bring Fundamental Change to Our Business and it was published all over the world, thanks to The Boston Consulting Group. But that is not the only reason I'm with BCG; it's a wonderful community of professionals.

VB: What is the "forgotten half of change?"

Luc de Brabandere: There are two sides to change. Changing reality, the world, on the one hand and changing perception, the way you look at the world, on the other.

During the 20 years of my first career, I slowly realized that there were many failures due to half of the change being forgotten. I'll give you an example. When you merge two companies, in order to build a larger one, it changes, and when it happens, people always focus on the reality. One single computer system, one single accounting system; and they tend to forget people's minds.

If you look at merger failures, most of them were because people's minds were forgotten. As long as people within the new entity see themselves as an ex-A or an ex-B, they are convinced C doesn't exist. You succeed in merging two companies when you successfully merge the technology, for example one single computer system, and when this is a must people see themselves as part of a new project. If, and only if, they have a new perception of themselves, of the company, of the project. That's the beginning of the book.

To change is to change twice. If you want to succeed, in a change process, you have to succeed twice, and 99% of the time people focus only on the reality. My job is changing people's perception in order to make the first change irreversible. That is why I proposed, as a definition of innovation and creativity, the two types of change.

VB: You talk about the Palo Alto School and the lessons it offers.

Luc de Brabandere: Voilà! I'm a Palo Alto School fanatic – a member of its fan club.

In the U.S. the School's history and contributions to change do not seem to be well known even though located in California. When I wrote my book people I spoke to in the U.S. had never heard about Pal Watzlawick, John Weakland, Richard Fisch, and all the other influential people at Palo Alto. That's another difference between the two sides of the ocean.

In France, Germany, and Belgium the Palo Alto School is well recognized as the founder of a new paradigm of change. They talk about the law of change, which includes two types. Type 1 is continuous and has to do with reality – it is produced within a system that stays the same. "Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose." Type 2 is discontinuous and has to do with a change in perception. For it to happen one of the rules of the system has to be broken, a stereotype, judgment, or hypothesis.

The school's work is primarily devoted to mental and behavioral problems but their contribution applies equally to the business world – the world of reality and the world of mental shifts.

VB: You say "Innovation is linked to action, creativity to thinking." Would you describe the distinction you make between "creativity" and "innovation?"

Luc de Brabandere: In the consulting business a lot of people deal with figures, and that's very important, but in my job there are no figures. In helping organizations develop their strategies I am connected to perceptions. In this type of position I cannot establish a project and support it with performance objectives and data. So I am in danger – the danger being the potential for the result to be called, "Bullshit." It might be considered as merely saying "blah, blah, blah." We talk and talk and nothing tangible is changing.

The way to avoid "bull shit" without figures is to use definitions and criteria. You need clear definitions and good criteria to name things, measure results, and assess things.

In my professional practice I have been surprised at how much confusion there is between innovation and creativity. Some people use the two words as being nearly synonymous, but they are two different things. I define them to avoid any confusion.

Innovation is about changing reality. Creativity is about changing perception. This distinction came from the Palo Alto atmosphere. These definitions are so simple; you can avoid a lot of the "blah, blah, blah."

VB: Innovation is the implementation of creativity?

Luc de Brabandere: You are right, 80% of the time innovation is about implementing a creative idea. But sometimes you can have innovation without creativity.

If you take someone else's idea – you have a restaurant, you see your neighbor with a new dish, and you prepare the same – you innovate without creativity. This is because the idea came from your neighbor.

You can also have creativity without innovation. An example is the computer mouse, which was patented at Xerox. The team that invented and developed it had to leave Xerox because the managers of the company didn't want to implement the idea.

VB: Is the essence of change "…a world that is becoming, without knowing what it's going to become."

Luc de Brabandere: Apparently that's what happens.

I have been in the business world for 35 years. One thing everybody agrees on is uncertainty. Everybody agrees that today the world is more uncertain than in the past, and you can identify many reasons for this. For example, the feedback loops due to telecommunications create complexities.

Another reason for uncertainty is Maslow's hierarchy of needs. When you go up the hierarchy, which is what everybody wishes to do, you increase uncertainty. At the physiological level, the lowest level of the hierarchy, there is no uncertainty. You can almost accurately calculate how many hours people are going to sleep, how much bread are they going to eat, and other things that will meet their most basic needs. At this physiological level you can make a good forecast. But as you move up the hierarchy, and especially at the esteem and the self-actualization levels people are trying to develop respect by others, confidence, sense of achievement, spontaneity, creativity and similar things. At these levels there is great uncertainty. At these higher levels even for yourself, I suspect that sometimes you don't know what you want.

The question is what is the business reaction to the fact that uncertainty is growing? You have to "do," solve problems, invent products, and engage in other activities in a world and in a marketplace that is uncertain. You may not even know anything about some key aspects of future trends.

When I visited the Michelangelo exhibition in Firenze (Florence), I saw his unfinished statues, which I found to be absolutely illuminating. The guidebook I had explained that Michelangelo said, "I cannot finish my statue because I do not know everything about the people who are going to look at it." That's why I took as a metaphor that we're in a "non finito" world. I love that metaphor.

It may be because I'm European, but I find it really provocative. "Non finito" does not mean that products shouldn't be tested and 100% reliable – it has nothing to do with that notion. It has to do with a product innovation, which in a way is open. For example, the Macintosh was invented 20 or 25 year ago. It was a "non finito" product. Look at Macintosh today. Nobody could have imagined 25 years ago what would happen with this product, but it was possible. It means and it shows that the Macintosh was well designed.

VB: In some respects the "non finito" phenomenon, the not finished, accelerates as societies become wealthier, because they move higher and higher in Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Is that true?

Luc de Brabandere: I agree. Take your job with IdeaConnection. You don't know everything about the reader, you don't know everything about the reader of next year, and so you always try and leave things open.

This is a key message I give when I talk to an audience. It's one of my favorite mottos, and people like it.

VB: "Astonish yourself into new perceptions, and you seed the ground for creative ideas." Would you talk about this?

Luc de Brabandere: The first person who wrote about astonishment was Aristotle. A long time ago he wrote in Metaphysics, science begins when you are surprised "at the fact that things are what they are."

In terms of the creative process I wanted to separate and isolate astonishment, because an idea still does not exist at the stage of astonishment. It is a situation where people see or experience something like a little shock. They don't have the idea yet – there are many examples of this type of situation. Without astonishment there will be no idea. Astonishment is really the starting point of creativity.

Some people use the term "business as usual," but that kind of sentence is completely stupid because it assumes nothing is changing. Always things are changing, but sometimes we don't realize it. The perception of a sudden change is the astonishment. That's the starting block of a creative process. There are actually four different types of astonishment. You can describe astonishment in terms of "things are" or "things are not". The two types under the category "things are" refer to the presence of something; either "it was" or "it is."

I work more and more on the second type of astonishment, the absence of something, which includes "what is no more" and "what is not yet." These two variations of astonishment need working on if we wish to use the surprise that "something is not" to seed creativity. There are many reasons for its usefulness in creativity.

Today a lot of things don't exist because 20 years ago there were good reasons for their absence, such as they were too expensive, were forbidden, technology did not enable them, or people had no need for them. Because of the new world economy, the open world and globalization, a lot of things are possible now that were not possible 20 years ago. But nobody asks why they don't exist. It's as if they are forbidden forever.

I try to work with my clients on this second type of astonishment, to try to be surprised because something "is not." It's not easy. If you go to a supermarket, you can easily recognize a new product. You are surprised because it was not there before. However, to realize that a product has disappeared is much more complicated. And to think of a product that nobody has ever designed before is even more complicated – that's where the real bonanza is for a new idea.

VB: Did you say that astonishment at "what is not" is the most important of the four for executives to cultivate?

Luc de Brabandere: Most important? I don't know. It's definitely more difficult, but it's also more "today."

Let me give you an example. As I said before, I worked in a bank for 20 years. At that time there were three major actors in the financial world: bankers, insurers, and brokers. If you were a banker, it was strictly forbidden for you to sell insurance. If you were in insurance, you couldn't be a broker on the Stock Exchange. It was like 3 different areas, completely separate, and with fences. Today, because of the new laws of the economy, those fences have disappeared, but a lot of banks are still only dealing with banking products. A lot of insurers are still only dealing with insurance products, and same with brokers. It looks like they are still trapped, even though there are no fences anymore. That's what I mean by being more applicable "today."

VB: "You not only need to change the reality of your situation, you also need to change your perception of this reality." Why is one's perception of reality so important?

Luc de Brabandere: There are many answers. One of the reasons could be the capacity to make a difference. This is a good definition of a success factor for a business. Pretend you are a car manufacturer. If you want to sell more cars you have to make a difference somewhere, but this difference has to be perceived. Otherwise the opportunity is gone, you miss.

I believe another reason is when you look at the market today the products and services, and I acknowledge it's my perception, are everyday a little bit more the same. If you compare two cars, the Peugot and the Renault for example, two different credit cards, or two types of shampoo, in reality every day they are a little bit more the same. Those companies use the same software, the same engineers, and perhaps even the same manufacturers.

The need to make a difference today is still what it was 30 years ago. So if you really want to make a perceptual difference, you have to move everyday a little bit ahead on customers' perception of the product.

VB: So that's why sales and marketing are so important.

Luc de Brabandere: Voilà! Exactly! Exactly! But to change is to change twice.

If you are the champion of marketing, but there is no perceptible change in the reality you may be able to succeed for six months. But one day you are going to pay cash for the lie, because you sold something that didn't exist.

VB: You have to have the bench strength behind you.

Luc de Brabandere: Of course, and that is really the challenge for CEO's.

Koninklijke Philips Electronics is a company I know very well. If today you were to go into the streets with a microphone and ask people, "If I say the name "Philips" what first comes to your mind?" probably they would answer "washing machine" or "dishwasher." Yet Philips hasn't manufactured and sold them for 20 years. Few are likely to answer "health," which is strange because Personal Care is now the most successful sector within Philips.

This is the paradox of a brand. If you make it powerful you will be happy because of its brand recognition in the marketplace. But if a brand is powerful it's very hard to change people's minds about it and, in the end, people's minds are the ultimate decision tools.

VB: How does one go about defining a problem in business? Do problems by definition have to have a solution?

Luc de Brabandere: To me, there is only one problem and that is to be open to change.

Imagine if the world didn't change; we might call this Level Zero. If you had a good idea, it would be so for a long time.

The real problem is what Heraclites posed, "You can never walk into the same river twice." Even the best idea, the best solution, or the best of anything will change one day because the world is always changing. This leads to two sub-questions. What is next? And when will this next occur? When we think we are at Level One we need to ask these questions. At Level One we need to consider answers to the what and when questions. If we do this we can change our perception of reality.

In business everything is a problem because nothing is a solution forever. Even if you have the best cheese, car, or software, within a changing world one day you will need new ideas. And most often you'll need them sooner rather than later.

VB: You always have to think you have the second best solution. In other words, there is a better solution ahead.

Luc de Brabandere: Voilà! It's connected to the "non finito!"

If you have the best idea it is "non finito," because one day it's not the best anymore. Bang and Olufsen, which is well known in Europe, is a good example. It was the Rolls Royce of music and high fidelity, but now the company has huge problems because it thought it's products were good forever.

Lego Group, the toy manufacturer, was one of the most successful companies in the world. I think 20 years ago it was named "company of the century." Five years later Lego was loosing money. Even the best brick in the world wasn't good forever. They tended to ignore the mega-trends, and suddenly part of the market switched to video games. In only a couple of years Lego moved from being one of the most successful companies to becoming not exactly an endangered company but certainly one under threat. Now they are making a comeback; they had the financial reserves to help them adjust and change.

Look at Nokia Corporation. I was surprised to read an article last month – I believe it was a cover story in Fortune magazine – that asked whether Blackberry or Apple is going to win? Nokia hadn't even qualified for the final game. Can you imagine that? Nokia is now fighting back, and perhaps has learned the lesson that no single idea is good forever.

Even if you are number one you have to be very careful, there is always one major problem, and it is change.

VB: If you are number one it may be even more dangerous.

Luc de Brabandere: Yes. I like the quote, "People have to survive the success."

When you are about to go bankrupt you have to take steps to survive. Oh la la. You have to survive. But if you tell a number one company, "Your problem is to survive; you have to survive your own success," they don't accept this advice. It's very hard to convince them to worry despite their success.

There are many examples of companies which didn't survive their own success.

VB: Paul Sloane, one of the authors I've interviewed, recommends that you imagine yourself 10 years in the future, look back at your company, and ask yourself, "Who killed our company and why?" That will humble you so you don't rest on your current successes.

Luc de Brabandere: Absolutely. I love that exercise. We usually take the good side of possibilities when we are thinking. We don't like to think about problems.

I work on a lot of scenario planning and try to make long-term forecasts. I encourage our clients to use that exercise.

A week ago I asked people in a bank, "What is the probability for Apple computers to become the standard in this bank?" They said, "Zero, zero point zero, there's no chance." Then I did what you just suggested and asked them to imagine that it actually happened. The focus then becomes why did it happen? This caused the people to stop and re-think their assumptions. Then someone from Human Resources said, "Last week I interviewed somebody I wanted to recruit, and he said he wouldn't join our bank because we don't have any Apple computers. At that point I thought, "God, this is a difficult person and I'm glad we won't be hiring him." Then he added, "But now I see it completely differently, maybe it's the bank that has a problem."

And that's what my next book will be about!

VB: Would you tell us a bit more about your next book?

Luc de Brabandere: The way we think dictates that we can't be creative without structuring our thinking. We need to invent new models, scenarios, or new ways to approach a problem. The real art of creativity is to know how to build those new "boxes" which provides the framework for fresh, imaginative thinking. Coming up with the right new box is the difficult part when scenario planning, doing business development, or designing a new strategic vision.

I will explore those ideas and will talk about many other types of boxes. The storyline is written but it's going to take another two years to finish this work.

VB: "The future is not adding up ideas, but multiplying possibilities." Would you talk about this?

Luc de Brabandere: It is completely related to what we have been talking about.

The easiest way to think about the future is to take the past and add the present. Let's take tele-working as an example. It's easy to think about the way work has been for years, and then you introduce the concept of today's telecommunications capabilities. Then you try to imagine tele-working, but in this case if you simply imagine a table, book, personal computer and staying at home. This is not a good thinking process.

Instead, the future should be questioned in a completely different way. In our tele-working example, you might think about what you currently do at work, consider the telecommunications networks that are available, and then imagine what you would be able to do that you didn't do before. It's not simply a matter of adding the work world as it is today to the networks as they are, and then imagining what the future could be. Rather it is to say to yourself or your team, "Now that we want to work the way the world is today, how are we going to organize ourselves?"

It's the same for teaching in schools – tele-teaching. You can use "tele" technology to increase and improve the teaching process, but not by taking books the way they are and putting them on a computer. Absolutely not! You say, "I want to teach music. New technology exists. What is now the best way to teach music?" You have to forget about the existence of physical versions of books, and even about the way you work today.

VB: And even forget that schools exist.

Luc de Brabandere: Absolutely, that is the correct approach if you want to generate new and innovative ideas.

VB: You refer to the "new New Economy," which you say is "bubbling under the Internet, Act III." Will the basic structure of businesses need to change in order to prosper in the new New Economy?

Luc de Brabandere: I believe so, and everyday I encounter more data that convinces me. Everyday things happen that people previously thought impossible.

Fortis, the bank I used to work for, was the largest bank in Belgium and the oldest in Europe. It disappeared within only a 3-month period last year – it simply blew up with the worldwide financial crisis. People thought it wasn't possible.

So the answer to your question is yes, you have to be flexible. You have to be "non finito." You don't build so much on forecasts as on preparation.

VB: And you build based on your strategy.

Luc de Brabandere: Yes, also on strategy. Even more than that, on strategies – the plural. That is one of the messages I now try to pass to my clients; one strategy is not enough anymore. If you have one strategy, it means you think you know what's going to happen. That's why I work more and more on scenario planning. I try to encourage people at all times to have more than one strategy.

VB: You mentioned preparation. What did you have in mind?

Luc de Brabandere: On one hand if you are a leader or CEO you have to anticipate. If you can anticipate with certainty, if you know what is going to happen, you can organize yourself.

On the other hand the world is becoming uncertain. How can you anticipate things you don't know? To me, "preparation" is the answer. You can prepare yourself and your organization for uncertainty and the unknown. Forecasting is possible when there is some certainty; if there is uncertainty you cannot accurately forecast. But you have to do something. The something is preparation, which is part of the strategy you develop even if you don't know exactly where you're going.

VB: Part of it is adapting to change and another part is trying to control change. It's also coping with uncertainty about what will change in the future.

Luc de Brabandere: Yes, and one of the ways to be prepared is to be attentive to feedback loops. If you fly an airplane, you cannot make a forecast about turbulence, but with feedback systems in place and knowledge of various scenarios that may occur you are prepared. If turbulence happens, there is no damage because you were prepared.

VB: The feedback helps you adjust.

Luc de Brabandere: To adjust, yes, because you have different kinds of feedback. Some feedback is automatic and some is human – but that's another story.

Cybernetics is the science of feedback. When people talk about cyberspace, they forget that "cyber" comes from feedback. Feedback mechanisms in a country, company, or any other organization are now more important than ever.

Creativity in setting up a business has always been necessary from the start – you need a good idea to start a business. But if you don't know what's going to happen in the future, you can't be sure of your idea's potential or even if it's a great idea. You think and hope it's good, but you're never sure. You're not 100% sure it's going to be a good idea today or for a long time. So, what do you do?

You organize a feedback process or system. A good example is the car called Twingo manufactured by Renault. Probably it isn't sold in North America, but it is a little city car, not too expensive. Renault started this car with the hypothesis that it was going to be successful among students. They launched the car and what feedback did they receive? It was popular among people over 60 years of age but not so much among students. This wasn't a problem because the feedback system was ready. As a consequence, Renault changed their advertising, the storyline and a number of other things, because of their newly found market.

The Twingo car is a good example of how in the past creativity was a good idea at the right time, but today creativity is about the ability to change the idea constantly.

VB: Will the concept of "job" disappear in favor of other ways of generating wealth and making a living?

Luc de Brabandere: Oh, la la la! My feeling is that one day all of us will be consultants!

Let's consider travel agents, a job like yours, or one like mine. What exactly is your value? Value is related to what you add to a relationship, which is the definition of consulting. So, I believe, in the end all of us are consultants.

VB's Comment: We will continue with our interview with Luc de Brabandere next week. We will talk about many topics ranging from weak signals to why creativity techniques are not as important as most think, earthquake companies, and what is a corporate philosopher. Oh yes, also about the brain as a two-stroke engine.


Dr. Luc de Brabandere's Bio:
Luc de Brabandere is Senior Partner & Managing Director in the Paris Office of The Boston Consulting Group. He is a member of the firm's Strategy practice, and specializes in helping firms develop their strategies and scenarios. He is also a foremost expert on applying creativity to business. A wide range of audiences attend his strategic seminars.

Since the early 1980's de Bradandere has been developing his philosophical approach to management and technologies.

Prior to joining The Boston Consulting Group he was a computer scientist and information service manager at Generale de Banque, the Chairman of The National Geographic Institute, and General Manager of the Brussels Stock Exchange. De Brabandere has a Master's degree in civil engineering in applied mathematics (1971) and a Ph.D. in Philosophy (2003) from the Catholic University of Louvain.

Luc de Brabandere has authored or co-authored many books, including The Forgotten Half of Change: Achieving Greater Creativity Through Changes in Perception (2005), which has been translated into Spanish, Portugese, Russian, Japanese, Chinese and Thai.

His other books include La Valeur Des IDÉES: De la créativité à la stratégie en enterprise (2007), Le Plaisir Des IDÉES: Libérer, gérer et entraîner la créativité au sein des organizations (2002), Le Management Des IDÉES: De la créativité à l'innovation (2002), Le Sens Des IDÉES: Pourquoi la créativité? (2004), Les Infoducs: Un Nouveau Mot, Un Nouveau Monde (1985), PENSÉE MAGIQUE, PENSÉE LOGIQUE: Petite philosophie de la créativité (2008), Petite Philosophie De Nos Erreurs Quotidiennes: Comment nous trompons-nous? (2009), Petite Philosophie Des Histories DRÔLES: Eyrolles (2007), Balade Dans Le Jardin Des Grands Philosophies: ÉDITIONS MOLS (2009), ESPÈCE DE TROCHOÏDE!: 50 idées mathématiques expliquées au profane (2006), Machiavel, Erasme Et More: Trois philosophes pour les managers d'aujourd'hui (2000), Calculus: Les machines de calcul non électriques (1994), IL ÉTAIT UNE FOIS LA MULTIPLICATION: Ou (re)découvrir le plaisir des mathématiques (1992), and LE LATÉROSCOPE. SYSTÈMES ET CRÉATIVITÉ: Préface de Joël de Rosnay La Renaissance du Livre, (1990).

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