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Posts Tagged ‘development

Knowledge, A Transmission of a Heritage

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Thot, egyptian god of knowledge

Knowledge is the most valuable thing we can acquire. It starts first with our parents who explain us lots of things during early childhood and later. Then the time has come to go to school where we learn to read, to calculate, to understand and appreciate.  It is also the most crucial moment to develop our sense of curiosity and discovery.  That’s why it is not only necessary to learn the basic fundamentals, but also to learn all what can bring us directly or indirectly inspiration, new ideas. History, geography, literature, art, are just as important in education.

Knowledge is part of education, and education is an important step to expand our knowledge, our curiosity and creativity.  Curiosity is a key motivation to open doors to new knowledge.  Curiosity is a key element to expand our knowledge and to increase our autonomy, to become free human beings. There are many channels to explore new horizons, to understand our environment and the history, by reading books, watching Tv podcasts or going to the cinema, visiting cities and historical sites, practicing a sport. All these new discoveries we can do, could be the opportunity to discover new centers of interest, new motivations, new ideas to develop future projects.  Knowledge is acquired through experience and original journey.

Knowledge is also one of the only things without limit. Each day, science makes new discoveries, industries are innovating. Each discovery is a source of knowledge opening doors to new reflections, new discoveries and opportunities. But the most interesting fact is that knowledge is the only thing we have more when it is shared. What would be the interest to keep your knowledge for yourself, especially in the age of the internet, where you can find an unlimited quantity of information. It is also senseless to keep information or knowledge for yourself when projects can only be done and succeed as the result of a collective intelligence process. Those who don’t share knowledge consider it in a spirit of competition. But today, things begin to be more and more complex, and in such a context, the required knowledge is so extensive that we can only control a part of it. We must not see each other as competitors, but more as complementary people who can learn from each other. Instead of seeing knowledge in a competition spirit, let us considering it in a collaboration spirit.

Knowledge has to be considered as an intangible common heritage. Each of us, we acquire knowledge on different ways, according to our interests and aspirations.  We acquire knowledge with experience and as I mentioned in a previous article about seniority, it is an asset. But in a fast and ongoing changing environment, young generations have other sensibilities and other visions of the society. Combining experience of the seniors and new visions of the juniors is an interesting way to launch innovative processes. It is only by sharing knowledge and visions that each of us, we can evolve together.

Knowledge is part of our personality, what will make us someone blossomed. Knowledge is what gives us possibilities to accomplish us, and to allow others to accomplish themselves. Sharing knowledge each other will make us grow. We can share what we acquire, without losing it. Knowledge is finally a heritage to be transmitted.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

January 24, 2019 at 07:04

Think big, think wide, think wisely

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Richard Branson, an entrepreneur and humanist mind.

Richard Branson, an entrepreneur and humanist mind.

In a previous post, I was talking about the importance of education in the process of an enterprising mind development. Recently, I was reading an article in the Datanews magazine, about Sebastien de Halleux, a successful Belgian entrepreneur. In this article, few mentioned points are the evidence that education and entrepreneurial attitude are the key of a successful life. By success, we should not think only about financial success, but about personal success, when you give to yourself the possibility to move forward.

Sebastien de Halleux, is a 35 years old serial entrepreneur, who founded “Playfish”, an online game software company. In the interview, he mentioned that one regret he had is to have not move earlier to the United States to develop his business, and said that if you want to develop a business, you have to locate it in the country where it make more sense, and United States remain the best place for the online games or social media business. Despite the location, Sebastien mentions something I pay attention to. As Belgian like me, he mentions that you can’t find the international top people in Brussels, capital of Belgium, capital of Europe. We have to mention that Belgium is facing economical crisis like many other European countries, but some statistics show that the entrepreneurship rate is lower of 30% than the average level in Europe. Such statement does not appear positive about the mid-term economical development. Could Belgium not have a stronger economy, should not it be possible to become a country with successful companies like in the Silicon Valley? Is it because Belgium is a small country?

In his comment, Sebastien de Halleux talks about “international”, says that you have to think big. Today, the world is a village thanks to new technologies and the globalization of the economy. In order to be a successful player in this world, education is essential to build a successful life. This is the reason why the government has to ensure the development of an efficient education system. It has to be an ongoing process of investment. It requires important financial resources, but the mid and long-term returns are priceless for the society but also for each individual who will have the possibility to build his own way, his own life, with positive impact on his personal wellness. Each people have to be encouraged to make studies he likes, not only for economical purpose, but also to open his mind. We see these last years students who have to choose to make other studies, because some quotas in the field they choose were reached. This is in my mind totally senseless. If you ask around you, you will meet a lot of people doing a job without direct links to the studies they did. But it doesn’t mean that the studies they did are useless. Studies are useful first to develop the process and the wish to learn. We are learning everyday. For those who remember the Steve Jobs speech at the Standford University, they remember him saying that you never know in advance what you will do and if what you learn will be useful. Some students will probably do a job that does not yet exist, but the most important is to connect the “dots”, to use what you learn to create something. In Apple company, a lot of Steve Jobs collaborators were not IT guys, but biologists, physicians, but they were really passionated by the Apple story. By mentioning this, I mean that “international” means “to think high, to think wide, big, to think wisely”.

I mentioned previously the lack of entrepreneurs in Belgium and the statement that some Belgian entrepreneurs move to other countries to build projects. Even If some initiatives are done to promote entrepreneurship, people are not so enthusiastic to start as entrepreneur. The difficult economical environment make that people are not entitled to build their own activity, but there is also a negative image given to successful entrepreneurs who are guilty to become rich, which is not well accepted when other people are losing their job and when they are facing difficulties to have a decent life. In my mind, such debate is totally senseless and to put entrepreneurs in guilty is not a solution. In our society, work has to be considered as a value, a value that has to be respected. It is senseless to criticize entrepreneurs who succeed and who earns money. The development of the economy contributes to create wealth and jobs, with consequences to increase the level of tax and social contributions. These taxes and social contributions are necessary to finance schools and universities, contributing to the education and to the fundamental research. To criticize entrepreneurship has a negative impact on the economy and the society and make us dependent of multinational groups that can relocate their activity in other countries. It is important to develop a network of local businesses, working with other international companies. But it means that each of us has a responsibility. Entrepreneurs need to have a long-term vision and to play a social role. By developing a business, you create jobs and by creating jobs, you develop a market. You can only develop a sustainable business if people have the possibility to buy your product and services. Such statement is not “rocket” science. To develop a business, you need competences, know-how, and here is the key role of education. Entrepreneurs need to keep in mind that the taxes they will pay will contribute to maintain and develop a high quality education system, contributing to educate people and to create know-how and intelligence, needed to run our society, in large domains like business, education, culture, etc. But it means also that the politic has also a high responsibility, the responsibility to use received taxes to develop an efficient education and social system.

Some entrepreneurs have and show social responsibilities and it is the case of Sebastien de Halleux who is investing money in NGO, acting in education for students of the emergent countries, and work based on computer for people living in countries where workless level is high. Social responsibility means a education to what is money. You can not block somebody who wants to create a business, and who is generating cash because he had a good idea. World is moving because people had ideas, developed them, and built business with these ideas. Entrepreneurs are not only motivated by money but by creating something new, by the wish to change the world. But they have not to forget that you can only wear a tie on a time, and that if they earn a lot of money, their can make work people in decent conditions, but also contribute to finance social projects, like Richard Branson did with his foundation, Virgine Unite. This is a positive way to change the world. Albert Einstein said “Don’t be a man of success, be a man of value”. So, think big, think high, think wisely.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

December 3, 2012 at 20:49

Education as a passion

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The passion to learn contributes to the human being development.

Education is an important pillar of our society, in term of social, economical and cultural development. Education is the basic tool allowing everybody to be first a human being, to develop himself, to have a job and to be integrated in a society where he can share, communicate with other people. But a statement needs to be done: everybody is not equal in term of education, and some people are not succeeding very well in their studies. The chance for these people to be integrated in the society and to live in harmony is lower.

There are many reasons why some people does not succeed in their studies, in their life. There is a first reason which is a social reason. Children who are living in a family where the parents have a low education level, will face more difficulties to acquire a higher education level than their parents. But it does not mean necessarily that they cannot succeed in their education. There is probably a question of temper. The ones will show more will and perseverance to succeed, the others will be quickly discouraged. Here is the need to have a performant education system, where teachers can play an important social role, contributing to help everybody to meet success in the education.

Let us have a look on the needed ingredients to build a strong educational system. A first condition is to have passionated teachers. As in many jobs, the passion is a key factor of success. The passion brings the motivation to increase your skills and capabilities in areas of interests, and leads you to give the best of what you can do. The passion is something you can transmit, you convince the other because you are convinced yourself. In education matter, passion is something you have to transmit. Some teachers show lack of passion, which is not an example to motivate children or students. The learning process needs efforts, where we have to cross over difficulties, and students have to be motivated to cross over difficulties, to face challenges. Challenges are what we have to face during all our life, and what make us more self-confident. Education has also to prepare the children to face this.

Another important condition to motivate students and to bring them to success in their educational process, are the educational skills of teachers. It is important to be able to explain things on different ways with examples. Some teachers are able to explain complex matters by making comparisons with simple concepts, with concrete things, allowing the students to visualize more easily the teached matters, the explained concepts. But it is also important to explain what is the utility to study matters. What I am saying here, is not that there are useful and useless things to learn. It is not a fact but a wrong perception the children have, and they are wondering why they have to learn things which seem to be useless. They are judging it as useless, because they don’t perceive the goal of learning it. I will take the example of mathematics. I remember teachers explaining theorems, formulas, hypotheses, and logical developments. But at that time, I had the feeling that the only goal to learn these things was to get enough points at the end of the year, to succeed in the examinations, and to have a qualification. I had the chance to have later a professor in the university who was illustrating mathematical concepts or equations with concrete examples. It was much more easy to understand theoretical concepts with practical examples.

Knowledge is the raw material of intellectual and social development. All what we are learning at school, in mathematical, physical, chemical sciences, literature or history, are the basic components to understand or to build more complex concepts or knowledge. But it is also important to show the brought added value of the combination of skills, of disciplines. We can see today new jobs which were not existing some years ago, but which are only a combination of existing jobs and skills. Let us take the example of somebody who is a qualified translator and who has passions of IT and can make programs. By combining two skills sets, he can create translation programs or to work in the online translation industry. The added value of such combination will be a motivation to learn and to develop other skills. For instance, in our globalized world, a stylist who want to present creations in foreign countries like Italy or United Kingdom, could be find more motivation to learn languages, because she has a concrete reason, a concrete motivation to learn it.

As I mention before, education goal is first to become a human being, to build our personal development, to become first the actor of our own life. The role of the education system is also to help children to develop interest areas and to help him to build their own life. The development of interest and curiosity will contribute to develop motivation, and drive people to passion. Passion is an essential component of self-development. Passion leads people to move their limits forward, to encourage them to face new challenges. Passion is also something teachers have to transmit. And to transmit passion, I am coming back to the first point I presented here, to have passionate teachers communicating the passion to learn.As in many areas, passion is a key factor, and the passion to learn can lead you to unlimited new horizons. Let us give the key of passion to learn to the new generations, giving them the opportunities to conquer their freedom.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

May 24, 2011 at 20:48

Corporate Social Responsibility, a philosophy or a marketing tool?

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Corporate Social Responsibility, for a better world.

Today, we can see a lot of companies investing time and funds in Corporate Social Responsibility. I was recently asking the question on a forum if such programs are the concretisation of a philosophical culture or by the motivation of a positive marketing image. This question suggests a cynical intention of companies to do a positive action for business purposes. If sometimes such question is asked by some of us, it is probably because the Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives goals are a bit in the opposite of the company goal, it means to make profit. And the other question is to know if the final goal to implement Corporate Social Responsibility programs is to contribute to a positive social action or if it is to develop a positive marketing image. It is always easy to criticize such initiatives by saying that it was not done for a good reason, in this case for social purpose. But such initiatives make cense when the strategy and the philosophy of the company is in accordance with such actions. In other words, could we believe to the valuable reasons of a CSR program of a company when this company is firing people in order to maximize profit?

Do not forget that companies needs to make profit in order to ensure the development and the sustainability of their activities. Do not forget that there cannot be efficient social policy without strong economy. Both are linked, but companies would have to integrate all the dimensions, social, economical, development, people management, motivation…in their corporate values. In a lot of case, it implies a change of paradigm. Is the economy there to serve people or people have to serve the economy? As I already asked in other articles, is a economy sustainable when companies are cutting jobs to make more profit and when you reduce the purchasing power of people? In such context, does the CSR appear as a cynical way to gain respectability? Such a paradox does not appear as positive. But we have maybe to see here the possibility to develop another business model, where all the components have to be taken into account, in order to show a more coherent image. There is already existing companies and business based on the Social economy model. These companies are integrating different values, and sometimes more constraints to develop a sustainable business. But this kind of environment initiates most of the time more creativity, and particularly when the people are motivated and subscribe to the company project. I remember an article about an IT small company based on a cooperative model, where each employee could acquire shares of the company and have a vote to the board of directors. This model shows interesting advantages. The CEO of this company was mentioning in the article that with such company model, he could be fired by the employees, and that he was taking more time to make proposals and taking decisions. But on the other side, the employees are more involved in the project and have more responsibilities on their shoulders. It is not forbidden to think about the possible changes that CSR could produce on the way to do business.

Does it mean that every company cannot implement Corporate Social Responsibility in order to avoid critics? Certainly not! Such initiatives have to be encouraged and have not to be criticized. But I think that a CSR program starts within the company, by taking care about a range of value, like people management, employee wellness and personal development, environment concerns. Such program can contribute to reduce costs and to increase the employee commitment. These programs could be nice challenges if the ones who initiate them, want to do it with efficiency and reach a valuable goal. It offers a positive contribution for those who needs some help in particular difficult time, and contributes to give a positive feeling of usefulness for those who contribute to the realisation of such programs. For programs where people are dedicating time as volunteer, it is a good experience to face challenges, to be confronted to some difficult situations. This kind of experience is invaluable and brings a positive contribution in terms of education. Probably that a lot of us, we lost one day our job and we had to face difficult time. We had probably chance to have people around us giving supports and encouragement. We don’t have to forget this. It is important from time to time to give assistance to people, but also to help them to take a new start. As said previously, there is no social without economy, and no economy without social. Before to be consumers, we are first human being.



Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

December 6, 2010 at 21:22

Economical growth or economical development.

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Dominique Strauss-Kahn, director of the IMF

At the opening of the International Forum for Human Development in Agadir (Morocco), Dominique Strauss Kahn, the director of the International Monetary Fund, said that the financial and economical crisis destroyed around 30 millions jobs around the world. He said that in a perspective of a new globalization, the first priority should be the employment.

By reading these figures about employment, could we say that the economical and financial crisis is over, beside the fact that the company results are better than in 2009, and that the stock exchange markets recovered more or less their level from before the crisis? It should be premature to take such conclusions.

I was reading an article about the crisis effects in the United States of America, where there are now the mid-term elections, and where the consequences of the crisis on job market are a real issue for Barack Obama re-election. The particularity of the United States, and also of the United Kingdom, is that people are deeply indebted, and the level of unemployment remains high. People are facing real problem to reimburse their loans and credit card invoices. The risk of personal bankruptcy remains high, and as consequences, the financial system remains fragile. Within these two conditions, it is difficult to re-start the sustainable economical growth. And we have not to forget that main countries are facing to a high public debt, after their monetary intervention to save banks from bankruptcy. To try to restart the economical growth on a sustainable way, by allowing people to contract new debts should not be a good idea. Such strategy would be a risk to weaken the financial system, with the risk that the states could not intervene a second time to rescue the banks.

It does not surprise anybody to see that millions of jobs were lost in these particular exceptional economical circumstances. Companies were obliged to take restructuring measures in order to preserve their profitability. We heard at that time, companies which did not want to take the risk and were unable to make some forecasts in such misty circumstances. But since many years, we can see companies cutting jobs in order to maximize their profits and to give more return to the investors. Is it a sustainable logic?

If you want to create economical growth, it implies that people needs to have revenues in order to contract produced goods and services. Main of the people earn revenues from their work. A company hiring people to produce goods or services, is paying a salary to the employees, and so, is creating a wealth re-distribution mechanism. A company can only be profitable, if people can pay the price of the produced goods or services. This equation is easy to understand. These last years, the maximization of short-term financial profits was the main objective of investors and not a sustainable economical development. The financial and economical crisis induced significant value impairments, and in some case, a negative return on investments.

Here, we can see the major difference between economical growth and economical development. It is not forbidden to think that if companies were more focused on human capital and know-how than on financial profits, they would have probably lost a few percent of profit, but they would have contributed to maintain a purchasing power level for the people, and by consequences, ensure future revenues. They could also preserve the know-how of the company. With the development of the new technologies, each people is playing a key role in the companies, and the replacement of such profiles represents a cost for the company. But this logic is not followed by some investors, more focused on personal interests than common interests. And these speculative logical is a break for the business development. Today, companies are facing difficulties to develop their business, because they can not find credits to finance their development.

In a sustainable economical development model, you are not only focused on profitability, but you are focused on a range of key factors: business development, finance management, marketing, human capital management. As in many projects, it is fundamental to determine what is the real goal. In a sustainable economical model, the goal should be the wellness of the people and the business sustainability, which implies a long term view.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

November 1, 2010 at 22:14

Work, a social development tool

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Work, a social development tool.

As member of the board of directors of a non-profit organization dealing with social insertion projects, we were discussing on a board meeting about the social dimension of the work of people of the association. Some employees hired by the organization as room maid, are helping seniors not only to clean their home, but also to make shopping, to go to the pharmacy. These people are not providing a material help, but also a social assistance, and this establishes a real human relationship. In this relationship, both parties are winning. For the seniors who are often alone, the social worker is a presence, a contact they can talk with. For the social worker, this relationship brings a real human added value to his work. He has the feeling that he is doing much more than a simple work, and the fact that the beneficiaries appreciate his presences, contributes to his dignity. This relationship contributes on a positive way to the social life and environment of each other.

This fact made me think about the social role of work, not only in a non-profit organization, but also in companies. Each of us, we are spending probably more time with our colleagues than with our family. A positive day at work is not only the result of reached targets or goals, but also the harmonious relationship we have with our colleagues. There are two conditions to develop positive relationships between collaborators. The first one is to have compatibles tempers. In the opposite of our private life, we cannot choose our colleagues, we have to work with them. Too different tempers can sometimes be an obstacle to the development of positive relationships. The second important point is the work environment and atmosphere in the company. A positive atmosphere is a company will contribute to the wellness of the employees, and will contribute to the development of positive collaborations. But as most of us know, the environment is not positive all the time, when for instance the company is facing crisis times, times where the stress is increasing. This increase of stress and decreasing of wellness can be balanced by a good people management and communication. Each of us, we need to have the feeling that we are part of a team, that our work is recognized by our colleagues, by our management. If we see closer, the management is a tool of social development within an organization. When you define objectives for your team, when you are giving instructions to each team member, you have to be aware about the social dimension of the organization you want to build. You assign tasks or processes to your collaborators in function of their responsibilities and capabilities. By doing so, you give them the opportunity to show what they are able to do, to get a positive feeling of themselves, but also to have a recognized role in the social organization of the company.

If I underline the social dimension of work, it is not only the fact that we have a specific function in a company, but it is important to share things with colleagues, and not only in the work area. To speak another language is interesting to start a conversation with a colleague coming from another country. We can learn about the customs of his country in business, but also cultural and social area, to talk about respective hobbies, passions. All these conversations contribute to share ideas, knowledge, point of view, which is a mutual enrichment.

By giving importance to the social dimension of work, you are clearly aware that people are different from the machines. You are not only giving then instructions by pushing on a button and by expecting only outputs and results, but you are waiting also for suggestions, debates, alternative solutions and ideas. By giving importance about such feedbacks, you can create a positive feeling to your collaborators, you are showing respect for them, you are giving them the opportunity to work in dignity and contributing to their social life development. You are developing also the social dimension of your company where human capital should not be considered as a cost but as an asset.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

August 2, 2010 at 21:51

Development, a sustainable way of growth.

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BP's oil spill, an ecological disaster.

The United States of America are facing the worst ecological disaster since more than a month with the BP’s offshore platform accident. The flow was already categorized as the largest offshore oil spill in the American nation’s history, but the new figures are much higher than the previous estimates. President Barack Obama pronounced a speech, saying it is time to develop the field of new and renewable energies, cleaner for the environment.

But the question is to know if there is really a will to develop such energy field? There is a debate and different mind regarding oil reserves. The extraction of oil becomes more complicated as we have to extract it deeper. The development of more sophisticated extraction techniques shows that we are able to find new oil reserves. But this has a cost, not only on an operational level but also on the ecological level. Money is spend to develop more sophisticated extraction techniques, but have we the full control of the process in case of accident, and are the safety measures always followed? The present situation in the Mexican gulf seems to show it is not the case. As often, companies are focused on short-term profit, forgetting the risk management. Oil generates appreciable profits, but in the Gulf oil spill, the ecological and economical cost is probably much higher for the country, compared to the generated profits on the same period. The balance of such disaster is clearly negative, as the estimated cost amounts to 1 billion usd. This oil spill will have short and long term effects on an economical and ecological point of view.

I would like to make the following comment. Often, ecology and economy are considered as two distinct things, incompatible and with no links between. This is a wrong point of view. Each natural and ecological disaster generates re-construction costs and no added value. In the case of the gulf oil spill, it would have been more interesting to spend the lost money to the development of renewable energy technologies. Research and innovation are an economical motor. The development of sustainable and renewable energies resources provides long terms economical and ecological benefits.

In order to develop a sustainable economy, it is important to analyze the benefits and the risk of each choice, each alternative, but we have also to distinct the difference between growth and development. Let us take an easy example: the growth of the pharmaceutical industry in a country is a good deal for the economical statistics, but it means that the consumption of medicine is increasing, which means that people are not in good health. This is not a really positive situation. On the other side, if the building industry growth is increasing because you build new schools and empowered the education system, this growth contributes to development with future long term economical and social benefits.

Development is the key of sustainable growth. Each crisis we met is destroying values, and the time and energy we spent to recover the lost value, to be again on the start point is a pure waste. A growth based on sustainable value contributes to a long term development, where each step contributes to the next one. It means also that in a development process, each component needs to be taken into account, not only the economical side, but also the social and environmental components, and all these components need to be integrated on a long term view.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

June 20, 2010 at 10:27