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What the heck is this new concept of the world's habitability?

— Michaël Dandrieux, Co-Founder Eranos

What’s the heck is this new concept of the world's habitability? — Michaël Dandrieux, Founder & CEO Eranos

Published:

6.29.2022

Photo:

Nathalie Mohadjer

Michaël V. Dandrieux Ph.D is a sociologist, he cofounded and manage the consulting firm Eranos, he is a teacher at science Po Paris and a TEDx lecturer. One of his is core expertise is about helping companies to transform themselves into meaningful, future proof, sustainable and profitable organisations.

Can you describe yourself quickly?

I am the co-founder of Eranos, a consulting firm that puts society at the heart of the corporate agenda and helping them to find their place in this new world. I am also a sociologist, teaching at Sciences Po Paris at the School of Management and Innovation.

What are your favorite subjects?

A revolution on the scale of the digital transformation of the 2000s is affecting companies today: the societal transformation. This time, it is not technology that forces companies to change, it is the very space in which they operate: society. My biggest obsession is to enable companies to ensure that they meet these new expectations and needs.

What would be an emerging topic that for you will be important in our very near future?

Very often, companies produce negative externalities, but in spite of themselves. A culture that drives away talent, marginal innovations that drain the trust of their customers or services that diminish their attention. Given the impact that companies have on our lives, their actions contribute to making the world more habitable or less habitable. So I think the most important issue of our time is the question of the world's habitability. It is a word that is a bit difficult to say, but crucial: "habitability" is the capacity of the world to be inhabited by us (and by the millions of forms of living beings on which we depend). I have considered this problem so important that I dedicate my seminars at Sciences Po to it.

What is at stake?

The greatest challenge to the world's habitability is ecological action. We mistakenly believe that the conditions of the world are stable. Tomorrow will be like today, so we can act tomorrow. However - and we have vivid examples - if the conditions of life become harsher (because of a war, a heat wave, a decline in our ability to care for each other), it also becomes increasingly difficult to act. Decisions will be harder to make in a less habitable world. And this, in my opinion, is the blind spot of ecology. There must still be a world, do we can save it?

What changes, what opportunities can this bring?

We have incredible powers of action: they are the companies. Fantastic human organizations, capable of producing millions of objects, of deploying very quickly services that change our lives. All we need to do is to couple the production of companies with the habitability of the world, and to measure their performance in terms of how they make the world more habitable. This can start very simply: instead of throwing ourselves into all possible means to achieve our mission (for example "raise millions, set up data and targetting models, to sell grocery delivery in 10 minutes"), we need to ask ourselves "if the end justifies the means, what justifies the end? ("does getting your groceries in 10 minutes make the world more livable, when we take into account the great human and energetic expense that this entails in society").

What are the brakes, the dangers?

It is the fear that the societal transformation is decoupled from economic growth. The fear for the company that these new expectations of society (such as the arrival of extra-financial accounting, the demands for meaning from new generations, vital products and not gadgets, etc.) will be additional cost centers, source of innovation inhibition.

“This time, it is not technology that forces companies to change, it is the very space in which they operate: society”

Who are the players in this market?

Ideally, all companies would be making this societal transformation at high speed, without anyone's help. But it comes more naturally to some than to others, depending on their maturity, the state in which they have emerged from the health crisis, the pressure exerted on them by raw material shortages or shareholders, or simply the nature of their products. Strangely enough, the players who are better off in the market are those who can put humanities as their foundation, the social sciences that take into account the complexity of humans and their habitat.

How did you come into contact with this issue?

I’ve been working with Eranos team for 17 years to help large companies. We have sociologists, philosophers, designers... but no bias.
Everything we theorises comes fromproblems that we have seen arise in companies. These are the concerns of your CEOs, your COMEX, your employees. The question they ask is: "If the company brings something to the world's table, how do we ensure that it brings something good?". When the answer is "yes," business follows.

Where can we find out more?

In the Knowledge Center at the Eranos site. There are conferences, TEDx, podcasts, articles that detail the consequences of this problem on different sectors, from Food & Bev to Luxury to Real Estate, to Finance.

To know more check Eranos website >