How intelligent is your company?

2012, month by month


As 2012 unfolds, a look back on lessons learned, and where my work, and my clients's needs and challenges took me this year. Quite a journey...




Weak signals: as I prepare for my presentation as part of a panel in Davos for the World Economic Forum  " Sensing weak signals", I dive into  the tools used by companies to pick up weak signals and avoid surprises.

Davos: it is hard to describe in only one paragraph what Davos is about and the lessons learned. In 2012, I learned about The Creative Workspace, Life in Megacities, the Working of the Brain, Critical Design, Human Network Dynamics,  and Reshaping Healthcare. I also listened to chairmen of multinational companies discuss the challenges of their role. I indulged in art and how it can change society with photographer Platon, but also how street art projects can change societies and individuals. Here is for example Michael Wolf's work "Architecture of density".

Neuromarketing “covers the intersection of neuroscience and behavior research with marketing, advertising, and product design.”. I investigate how this interaction is used by marketers, and in particular retailers, in promoting products and reshaping their advertising campaigns.



Business models: I had been reading the excellent book by Alex Osterwalder “ Business Model Generation”, and had a chance to meet with him and talk during the Lift 2012 conference. I have used his frameworks since, and in particular the ability to prototype hypothesis to speed up the innovation process. I am starting to believe that this is one of the best business book published in the past 10 years as the implications for companies is huge - as are the opportunities.

Burning man: the burning man festival is going on in February. Burning Man is an annual art event and temporary community based on radical self expression and self-reliance in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada.It also has become an illustration of the new generation values, openness to innovation, and collaborative thinking. The result of this reflexion was a short article published here: "Burning Man: nouveau berceau de l'innovation" ( In French... for translation use Google Translate)

Pilots and decision making: I study decision making processes in organizations, and draw a parallel with the way we train pilots to make decisions. The result of that reflexion and research was a new course for executives, but also  an article here in Competia's blog . .

Gamification: as companies try to replicate the excitment that gaming induces into their own product or service experience, I explore if gamification indeed works.



GenY: As I prepare a new course for the IMD Business School, I dive into GenY: its codes, values, and what it means for companies today ( as they employ this generation, but also as they try to market to them) . An extract of this reflexion can be found here in this Prezi presentation.

B- corp: I explore the concept of this new legal structure for corporations to understand what it means in terms of governance.Not sure what shape and form this work will take yet...

Pinterest: over the past weeks, I created 36 boards, pinned over 600 images. I find Pinterest to be personally a fantastic bookmark tool for ideas and future reference, as well as visual resume building. I still find it difficult  given the narrow reach to see real impact for B2B companies. This reflexion drives me to add Pinterest to the toolkit of tools discussed in our Social Media for Competitive Intelligence course.

Smart cities: the concept of the "smart city" has been introduced highlight the growing importance of Information and Communication Technologies such as smart meters, sensors, Internet connected objects in cities.  For a training course for a client, looked at what smart cities would look like and what this means for providers of services: i.e. Recycling and waste management.



The future of television: for a client, I do a complete overview of the trends in the television and media communication  industry. I described how the television landscape will look like in 10 years, including balance of power, role of new competitors, and future technologies. I studied also the future of television advertising, and learnt about branded and earned content. Part of that research will be briefly discussed in this blog post for the Huffington Post / Le Monde.

Future of retail banking: for a client, I develop a toolkit to coach and guide strategy analysts in the banking industry  understand future trends that will affect them in the future.

Social media and investors relation: invited to keynote the Canadian Investors Relation Conference in Montreal, we discuss how social media is challenging investors relations professional everywhere and how they should understand how to leverage social media tools and networks.

Introverts: as TEDActive is sending me wonderful books to read, I discover "Quiet" and somehow it hits a sensitive cord ! I can't wait to join the group of "The Young, The Wise. The Undiscovered" at the TED Active conference next February.



Strategic blindspot: this is an ongoing subject of interest and a great passion. In May, I finalize the framework  allowing me to assess the  risk of strategic blindspots in  an organization ( from the management or the board point of view). This will also take the shape of an article – which is schedule to be published in early spring 2013 in Canada.

Role of boards of NGOs in supporting and supervising strategy: for a client, set- up a framework to define what role the executive boards  should play in strategy. Best practice interviews includes processes set by the United Nation, the World Food Organization, the Red Cross and the Aga Khan foundation.

Boards and SMEs: I dive into how governance can work for SMEs and how this might be different from large companies. I discover as I do so that very little has been indeed written on this subject. Some of the learning are summarized here in the article for the Huffington Post / Le Monde.

Social media and politicians: I watch the French presidential electtions unfold and analyse how candidates have used social media. I get the chance also to turn theory into practice as I help a friend build a profile on social media before an election.



Biomimicry: biomimicry is the examination of mature, its models and processes in order to gain and understanding to solve human or technical problems. It can also be used as an idea generation tool. One of the results of this analysis is a new training tool, but also a board in PinterestYour Link.

Future of retail: I am not sure what shape it will take, but I have been diving into retail trends and amazed that so little has changed in this industry over the past 50 years. I am secretly hoping the Amazon will shake the existing players enough so they finally start challenging unchallenged assumptions ( see here the amazing concept developed by Tesco for example)

Social capital. Senior executives and CEOs asked how they can build their social capital online. As I investigate how to assess social capital ( Peerindex, Klout etc...) , I am also looking for companies who have integrated this approach in their segmentation of customers. An article in French will be the result of this research ( or rather the tip,of the iceberg) published in the Huffington  Post/ Le Monde.

Future of healthcare: This was a fantastic exploration of new technologies, business models and strat-ups in the healthcare sector. Part of that research was leveraged in the International Master for Health Leadership course at McGill in  June where I have ( as always) the pleasure to co-teach with Henry Mintzberg.



Social intelligence: In July, we putting the final touches on an article for the McKinsey Quarterly with my colleagues Martin Harrysson and Hugo Sarrazin on how social intelligence can guide decisions. The article was published in November: How "social intelligence" can guide decisions" and brought to light how much social media can challenged our current competitive and strategic intelligence gathering and analyzing. The course covering this subject was already launched last year for Competia  and this subject is also part of IMD Business School curriculum for their Strategic Marketing in Action program led by the amazing Stefan Michel.



Role of boards and strategy: I am putting the last touch on the  article cowritten with Prof. Didier Cossin at the IMD business school  and built frameworks to define the role boatds should and can play in carving out the strategy of the organization. The article will provides a fantastic framework to define what roles board should play depending in the environment of the organization, and in the co-creation, support and supervisory.

Banksy: Banksy is the pseudonym for a British graffiti artist amd political activist. I love his humor and irreverence, and also how he gets his inspiration. I read the book “Banksy, The Man behind the Wall” and love his quote  "Looked at the space between the paintings" .



Video game industry: as I joined the board of director of Ubisoft, the third largest designer of video games, I have  immersed myself in the industry, its business models and creative process.

3D printing: for a client, elaborated in what 3D printing will mean for their company, but also for the future. I have to thank the think-tank W.I.R.E. for the introduction ...

B2B: Many of my clients are in the B2B field and find it difficult to relate to existing case studies and best practices of consumer goods companies. I am building a tresure trove of examples of great companies in the field, and how the issues of innovation, growth and disruption are playing out for those companies.



Open innovation: following a discussion at the Banff Forum with the amazing Todd Simpson ( Chief of Innovation at Mozilla), I have immersed myself into open innovation. I explored how companies have been concretely leveraging it, i.e. , from Harley Davidson crowdsourcing  its advertising campaigns, to GE reinventing the future of aircrafts, or to hubs where you can hire scientists turks

Imagination: for Canadian companies to innovate, they need to have the imagination. These were the words concluding my intervention at the Banff Forum on how to forster innovation for Canadian companies. A huge discussion insued about the role Canadian board of directors should play – which included diving into the statistics on board composition and (lack of ) diversity in Canada.

Social media and the role of boards: lots has been written lately on he subject since my article back in 2011, and social media is slowly making its way through the official director training programs. This research ended up as course for directors and board members at the IMD Business School and also at McGill for the Institute of Corporate Directors early November.



#MOOC: the acronym is well known for those following the movement of Massive Online Open Curriculum. Speardheaded by Stanfort, followed by Harvard amd MIT, US universities are planning to disrupt education. New players emerge such as Skype ( NASA course for kids) or Coursera. Last year, I had anticipated this trend in an article "The education playlist". I am now trying to see how this could translate into executive education.

Social footprints: co-writing a two-part article for the Harvard Business Review with Hugo Sarrazin and Martin Harrysson. The first part,  on how companies can harness social media to gain competitive knowledge, was published early December. The second part on digital footprints is in progress... Ironically, around the same time, a friend of mine became the target of nasty attempts for the press to dig into her personal life, and this has quickly been put to test.



Minecraft: this is not only the phenomenal success of the game that I am interested in, but more what it represents. An open source game, designed to help kids understand the culture and mechanisms of coding, and its potential for education

Activism: I explore both shareholder and customer activism and how companies can be prepared to respond to social media crisis.

Leadership development: a good hard look at future skills managers and senior executives would need in the next five years, and how training programs can be tailored to those needs.


What did YOU learn in 2012 ?


I wish you all a peaceful year 2013.


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