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Engineering the Knowledge Society For Information technology supporting human development Beyond Technology: Mankind as the End or the End of Mankind ! EKS Genova XII 2003 André-Yves Portnoff Groupe Futuribles

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What exactly is this new society?

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Engineering theKnowledge Society For Information technology supporting human developmentBeyond Technology: Mankind as the End or the End of Mankind !EKS Genova XII 2003André-Yves PortnoffGroupe

What exactly is this new society?

  • Knowledge Society?

  • Information Society?

  • Communication Society?

  • Internet Society?

  • Or Creation Society?

  • A society based on non tangible assets in the Intelligence Revolution succeeding to Industrial Revolution?

What give value to a information?

My Knowledge


My Willing, character, mind paterns…

My scale of value







I decide to select some informations I organize them to create interactions that give them sens





New Knowledge


What creates value? Positive Interactions!

The value of a Book is not generated by the number of letters it contains, but by the interactions between letters.

The Dome of Florence, Brunelleschi 1418-1434 :a self-supporting structure, 4 millions bricks, arranged in a herring-bone pattern,

The edifice’s value : definitely absolutely different from 4 millions times the price of a brick!

This global value is generated by the organization of the bricks and by Brunelleschi’s genius.

The global value of a complex system has nothing to do with the sum of its constituent parts’s values.

A offer has value

« If I can use it » (Knowledge)

« If I want to use it » (Willing, emotion)

What is value?

What creates value? Example of a Book

Creations of Values for User, Producer, others Stakeholders & Society

Time, Money


Intangible Assets

- Being able to read and to understand - Willing to spend time to read this book

Paper, Ink, Time, Money + Intangible Assets

- Competences & informations - Willing to write, to communicate & Willing to Cooperate with Publisher

Creation of Communication



Hope of Profit

Hope of Profit

Production of a Book

Decision to buy & to read this book

What creates value? Positive Interactions!

Creations of Values for User, Producer, others Stakeholders & Society

Physical & finantial Assets


Intangible Assets

- Competences & informations - Willing to use this item

Physical & finantial Assets + Intangible Assets

- Competences & informations - Willing to do & Willing to Cooperate with others peoples

Creation of Communication



Hope of Profit

Hope of Profit

Production of a item

Decision to use this item

« Value » of Xerox’s Share: Economy of Hope.

Financial capital also is very volatil


Close $























Value is always intangible

What exactly is this new society?

  • Knowledge Society?

    • What is a organisation based on ignorance?

  • Information Society?

    • Alone, information have no value

    • Technological centered vision!

  • Communication Society?

    • Whithout Communication, no Society!

  • Internet Society?

    • a formidable impulse to the more radical revolution: that of the intangible factors.

What exactly is this new society?

  • A Creation-based Society

    • Because in a fast and permanent changing world, innovation became a permanent necessity for life: creativity is a critical ressource

  • A Society based on non tangible assets

    • Creativity

    • Knowledge, communication, and technology give more and more power to peoples.

The Intelligence Revolution succeed to Industrial Revolution

Two major factor

  • The Intelligence Revolution :

  • 1945-XXI th Century

  • Intelligence and passions

  • reshaping management and organisations

Rise of Individualism

Digital Revolution 1973-XXI th Century More influence to intangible factors

Explosion of Knowledge

Technical progress

Two major factor

More power

Complex consequences of our actions

Long term & long distance effect

« Prometheus Era » (Edgar Morin »

Rise of Individualism

Explosion of Knowledge

Technical progress

Wisdom more usefull than more Technical Power

  • « Prometheus era »

  • for the first time, we have enough power to destroy all forms of life on earth in the space of just a few short hours.

  • If we prefer a slower process of self-destruction, let us continue seeking short term financial profits while neglecting the environment

Vital Importance of national & international State of Law

  • Freedom in an environment which respects the state of law is the major condition to security.

  • « Prometheus era »

  • Tchernobyl explosion. - China : SARS and diffusion of AIDS

Knowledge is unserviceable if people are not alloweded to speak

  • Technological efficiency:

  • Challenger: Thiokol, a too hierachical culture

Two major factor

More Complex Problems

Rise of Individualism

Rising number of competences to put together obliges us to build collective forms of intelligence.

Explosion of Knowledge

Technical progress

We need to convince those who have the complementary talents to join forces with us .

How to create value today?

  • Complexity constrains to Partnership

  • Nobody, no company, is skilled alone,

  • Only Cooperation builds Competence.

    A Car : 10000 parts

    500 different materials

    Mecanics, Metallurgy, Materials, Chemistry, Electronics, Computer Science, Optics,

    Telecommunications, Engeeniring, Software, Management, Logistic, Organization, Design,Ergonomy, Psychology, Sociology, Economics…

How to create value today?

  • Complexity constrains to Partnership

  • Positive interactions are only possible between free and willing partners.

  • It is possible to force other people to share with us their physical strengthbut never their creative intelligence.

  • The conditions to gain efficiency have switched from a logic of coercion to the logic of the persuasion and seduction.

  • The efficiency of partnerships between corporations and of strong customer relationship has been demonstrated through the success of such companies as Wal-Mart and Dell.

Staff: who must be a partner?

  • Robert Reich: only « symbol manipulators »!

    • A waste of intelligence & creativity

    • Remenber Challenger!

  • We answer: all the staff, from telephonist and door-man to CEO !

  • Building a coherent collective intelligence

Effectiveness of both Quality Management and Participative Human Resource Management Practices.

Kathryn Shaw (Carnegie Mellon U.) Casey Ichniowsky, Giovanna Prennushi (Columbia U.)

studied 45 steel finishing lines in the United States (owned by 21 different companies) and compared these to 21 lines in Japan (owned by 3 companies).

Conclusion:« progressive human resource practices significantly boost employee productivity and product quality »

A 1% improvement in uptime equates to $200,000 per month in operating profit.

Kathryn Shaw (Carnegie Mellon U.) Casey Ichniowsky, Giovanna Prennushi (Columbia U.)

We must shift from Constraint Logic

to Partnership Logic with :

  • Customers,

    • Because they have high-sanction power

    • Because they can choose among a worldwide market,

    • Because we need their ideas : co-creation

  • Suppliers,

    • Because we need their skills and it would be too expensive to get their skills by ourselves

  • Collaborators,

    • Because we need their creativity, active skills, personnal and collective engagement

Today, Creating Value Labour is…

Intangible Capital of Compagnies

  • No longer muscular part, but:

  • Affective : building links with others

    • with customers to sale!

    • with Society

    • inside company

    • With other companies

    • With complementary skills

  • Intellectual : new ideas, new solutions, creativity

Relationship Capital

Collective Intelligence

Quality of Interactions betwen peoples, betwen departments, builds Collective Intelligence or Collective Blindness, Stupidity, Folly.

Outside actors

Collective Intelligence

not a arithmetically sum of indidual competences but a synergy

Civil Society

Global Dynamic Capital of Organisations




Individual Skills





Executive Vision





Organisational Capital

Structural Capital

Physical & Financial Assets

The dawn of a new Revolution

  • Printing :

  • Diffusion of ideas, creativity

  • Industrial Revolution and Democracy

  • Internet

  • A new Business and Management Revolution

  • A Humanist Revolution?

What is wished by our co-citizens1981-1990-1999 values surveys in European countries (European Values Study, EVS, Arval & Futuribles 2002)

Rise of Individualism

  • To be respected, self govern

  • To choose their way of life

  • To have quality relationship

  • A meaning full life, Values

    People ask:

  • Taylor made, individualized relationship,

  • To respect their privacy, their values,

  • To enrich their life time

Internet : easy information, coalition tool…

Logic shifts from constraint

to conviction

  • Digital Revolution

  • Moore Law, prices cut by 2 every 18 months

  • advantage for individuals and SME’s

  • Communication and transaction costs fall,

  • Easier partnerships, advantage to Networks,

  • Local and long distance partnerships and customers

  • Digital Revolution

  • The two Network Effects,

  • The value of network grows as n(n-1)/2

  • A network of partners is more efficient than a big centralized group (Linux, Dell versus IBM, Compaq, H-P…)

  • But the same effect helps Big Companies to build monopolistic positions (Windows, Intel)

  • Digital Revolution:human centric or Big Brother?

  • How Engineering the Society For Human Development ?

  • We must first have the courage to say no.

  • Nothing binds us to accept that wrong political and economiccal forms of government may continue for the only reason that they have always been around.

  • Digital Revolution:human centric or Big Brother?

  • 2- We must demonstrate and repeate

  • That in medium term, participative management is economicaly more efficient.

  • That in long terme, sustainable development is the only solution for life.

  • That freedom is necessary for creativity and safe technology progress.

  • That in short term, e-business will collapse if it don’t respect citizen privacy.

  • Digital Revolution:human centric or Big Brother?

  • 3- We must promote in schools and organisations a global way of thinking, only one capable to understand complex situations and interactions

  • 4- We must use intranets

  • to demonstrate how counterproductive traditional partitioning can be ,

  • and to help progressive peoples to cooperate against old Big Brother management style.

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