At first glance, identity and change are mutually exclusive opposites. Cultivating one's identity would appear naturally incompatible with openness to change

This is not a new question and we are certainly not going to go into it too deeply, but you cannot avoid it altogether in any current consideration of modernity and globalisation. Until the last few months it was perhaps only of marginal concern to economic actors, but the current crisis, which ultimately has its roots in cultural attitudes, has changed the name of the game. Change and identity has now become a key concern for both company and management. One may even hope that the solution to this contradiction, arising, like the question, from within the company itself, will be an effective contribution to the foundation of a new social and economic order.

The fact is that in the current crisis, competition for survival between companies is played out on a worldwide scale, and depends on companies' capacity to respond to a diversity of individual and collective demands that they have never known before. These demands, this diversity, very largely exceed the scope of traditional assessments based on product or service in relation to price..

The evaluation of companies and managements now extends to medium and long term horizons, collateral effects on the natural, economic and social environments and, even more fundamentally, to the company's ability to respond to the quest for meaning by individuals left unsatisfied by stock institutional responses.

Under such searching interrogations, few established certainties, few ready-made answers fill the bill, and the question of "justification" becomes systematic and permanent: the responsibility of company management is regularly called in question and even the survival of the company itself no longer appears to be of itself a sufficient justification for the efforts or sacrifices required.

The temptation is great, including for the company itself, to seek a solution exclusively in a withdrawal, a turning in on oneself, as if any other area of concern would be a loss of time and energy: talk is then of nothing but "strategic recentering", internal reorganisation, restructuring and productivity gains...

There is no denying the necessity for such a cure, condition sine qua non of immediate survival; but this clean-out has no meaning unless accompanied by the vision and strategy required to provide a new point of departure.

Now, there can be no valid project carrying us forward that is not open, receptive of innovation and a vehicle for individual freedoms; for one-dimensional solutions threaten the creativity of the participants, subjecting them in their daily lives to exhausting pressures, suffocating their awareness of changes at work in society and the company, and sacrificing both enthusiasm and support to rigidity and sclerosis..

Nor can there be any legitimate project for a company, internally or externally, unless it is inscribed in that company's economic, geographical, social, cultural, and political context. No company can hope to be understood and supported in its requirements by its environment, by the territory with which it interacts on a daily basis, unless it shares the preoccupations of the people and the communities that surround it.

Thus, in moments of difficulty even more than during periods of success, the company must recognise the impact of its own decisions on the life of the territories in which it is established, and must contribute to their developmental choices and the futures calling them.

Another challenge awaits the company along this road

To continue its own development, the company must accompany and adapt to changes in the market, to evolutions in habits, it must anticipate expectations and demands that are increasingly difficult to perceive, coming from countries that are geographically or philosophically far away; in a word, it must change, and change fast.  

But at the same time, in order to justify its existence, to demonstrate its irreplaceable character, it must stand out through its originality and know-how, be identified with an imaginary universe, propose a vision, and cultivate consumer loyalty through the demonstration of its own values, which constitute its culture and its identity..

 Up to and including its manner of piloting change.

It is on this condition that in moments of doubt and crisis, actions of innovation and enterprise can hope to be recognised as a powerful yeast, bringing vitality and sense to the heart of society