Sharing of experience and wishes for 2019 – Laurent Ledoux
How to live this new year with happiness and serenity? In a world where ecological disasters are increasingly imminent and growing social inequalities are explosive. In a world where these risks are becoming almost less scary than the barking of the advocates of authoritarian neo-liberalism, who are currently thriving by denying these same risks.
I often asked myself this question in 2018. I have found some provisional answers there over the last twelve months. As every year for the past 5 years, I share them below for my greetings.
This year, they are structured around a single word from ancient Greek philosophy, φύσις (Phusis).
Spinoza thought of the infinite Nature that the Greeks called the Phusis. His philosophy is in line with the intuitions of mystics of all convictions and all times. By thinking of Nature, Spinoza invites us to consider our condition: Are we eternal? Does wisdom and joy go hand in hand? Can we love without dependence? Thinking the Phusis with Spinoza can free us from our fears and help us to live more serenely (and even more), as I discovered in 2018.
Beyond thinking and living the Phusis, 2018 was the opportunity, with some friends, to create Phusis, a cooperative society whose vocation is to support large private and public organizations in Europe in their managerial transformation in order to set up collaborative governance. That is, a working culture and coordination mechanisms that authentically respect the principles of the Phusis (“nothing is fixed/everything is linked”) and aim at overall performance, whether financial, human, environmental or societal.
The profound links between the approach that drives Phusis society and the PhiloMa association will therefore not surprise PhiloMa’s friends: Phusis is to the committed action what PhiloMa is to free questioning, the two approaches reinforcing each other. However, trying to “think about your life and live your thoughts” is not without contradictions. Commenting on the brief but intense and committed life of the philosopher Simone Veil, the philosopher François L’Yvonnet said in substance: “Any action is inevitably bound to be impure, soiled, with regard to the principles that animate it. In order to be able to act, we must assume that we are caught in contradictions, which Simone Veil fully assumed.” It is also what Machiavelli masterfully theorized in “The Prince” and what Sartre summed up in his famous “You can’t govern without getting your hands dirty”. The same goes for management, of course. At least in my experience. And paradoxically this is one of the major attractions of managerial action in my eyes, because it is also what makes it possible for its thoughtful practice to be experienced as a spiritual path.
At Phusis, we have chosen to compare the way to build a collaborative organization to the construction of a house whose pillars would be inclusion, personal development and freedom/autonomy; the foundations the collaborative governance; and the roof the raison d’être.
My experience and, more broadly, that of the Phusis company, which I created in 2018 with friends, show that being part of the Phusis movement and spirit (“nothing is fixed/everything is linked”) strengthens the ability of a (large) organization to overcome the difficulties inherent in the implementation of collaborative governance, and thus increases its chances of success. Acting according to the Phusis has helped us and is helping us to overcome certain dilemmas (detailed below) such as:
- Collaborative governance: How to articulate the different leadership roles in a collaborative organization?
- Development: How to move from personal development to impersonal/universal development?
- Inclusion: How to articulate caring inclusion and courageous conversations?
- Freedom/Autonomy: How to articulate autonomy and an increase in quality level?
- Evolutionary raison d’être: How to articulate evolutionary reasons for being at both the collective and individual levels?
Our various projects for private and public organizations this year have also reinforced our initial intuition and ultimate motivation for our engagement in Phusis: the multiplication of organizations that adopt collaborative governance can contribute, at least indirectly, to the renewal of our current democratic system. It is indeed reasonable to think that employees who are used to working in collective intelligence within a collaborative organisation in which they can take all the initiatives they consider as useful, will be more inclined to engage as active citizens and/or to support “charismatic leaders of equality and liberation” as the philosopher Jean-Claude Monod calls them. At least that’s what we believe in Phusis. This would only be a fair return of the influence that the democratization of our societies has had on corporate management (as the philosopher Isabelle Ferreras has clearly shown in her work): it now matters that managerial innovation within organizations – adoption of collaborative governance – in turn stimulates the autonomy, inclusion and development of each individual within society in the broad sense.
For 2019, I therefore wish us all that “thinking, living and acting according to the Phusis” gives us the energy and spinozist joy to contribute, through our daily work, to a world in which everyone feels included, respected and free to undertake for the common good. And, to this end, to work tirelessly to ensure that counter-powers organize themselves to face, in a non-violent but firm way, those who, in their greed for power, are determined to destroy the common spaces where common sense is developed, guaranteeing our ability to live together.
Laurent Ledoux has a varied experience both in the private and the public sector and specialized in restructuring and modernizing business units and administrations. He is founder, partner and Chairman of the Board of Phusis.