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The Clash of Structure and Chaos

By: Marie Alice Dibon
Posted: February 27, 2009, from the March 2009 issue of GCI Magazine.

page 7 of 8

Sometimes, even failures are important. “We launched Expertise 3P last year, and it didn’t do as well as we had hoped,” acknowledges Clarins’ de Benetti, “but we believe in that technology and it will probably succeed at some point. We will then have been the first company to ever launch a product of that nature. Moreover, in our industry, failure doesn’t have the same consequences as launching the wrong car would, for instance.”

That is also the conclusion that Thomas Goetz drew when he published an article last year in Wired magazine titled, “Mind the Gaps.” According to Goetz, “Scientists rarely publish the results of failed experiments. Science gets skewed because only positive correlations see the light of day.” There is a lot to be said about the value of failure. The challenge, of course, is to get this through the heads of upper management, especially in a world where quarterly figures dictate the strategy of public companies. Waste might also mean lesser short-term results. Only those who are able to think long-term can envision an innovative process taking place in their companies.

7. Accept Delays

Clarins decided to pull out of the stock market last year for that very reason. “The market is short-term, and sometimes even very short-term. The vision of our strategy for the group is rather mid- and long-term,” said CEO Christian Courtin in a recent interview.

Claude Bébéar, founder of Axa and generally considered to be the godfather of French capitalism, explained in the wake of the recent Bernard Madoff scandal in an interview for the French magazine l’Express, “For a few years now, companies have had to suffer the diktat of the short-term, [imposed by the markets]. Everybody knows that quarterly results have no meaning for the companies, yet more and more CEOs are obsessed by it, to the point of sacrificing certain investments to better their results.”

The Devil Inside