REVIEWS: City of intelligences—aUTHOR SYLVIE GENDREAU, CERA,1998, MONTREAL
This is a kind of UFO in the world of management literature: it is a beautiful, richly illustrated book; a personal guide that can also be a kind of a log book on which we write. Sylvie Gendreau, a Canadian, invites us to participate in the birth of a more democratic leadership. Her approach is an initiatory way through four “cities”: the City of Dreams (to develop the imagination), the City of Freedom (for freer workplaces), the City of Games (to learn and change gradually, while playing) and finally the City of Intelligences. The latter gives the occasion for the author to narrate a case of creativity and pleasure at work lived in a corporation.
Editions Village Mondial
True oxygen is puffed into management literature; the book of Sylvie Gendreau is not one of those forgotten as soon as read. On the contrary, it brings a split about our ways of thinking: call the dreams, freedom, games, intelligence - so that corporations become places of happiness and self-development.
This is the stake of this impassioned consultant: communicating the taste of life within enterprises. For this, she inspires artists, poets, architects, philosophers, that are connected and waiting for her concrete sense and action.
This concept-book gives the first step to success, towards the wind of better be. The texts are short and striking, photographs are beautiful. The quotations are chosen with art and the pictorial display is exceptional. Contribute to waking the spirit.
Read, Meditate, Live.
The City of Intelligences received the 2001 RH&M prize, on the occasion of launching the Review on Human Resources & Management and the conference Cultural Revolution of Management, on January 22, 2001, in Paris.
LA PRESSE, MONTREAL
Sylvie Gendreau is the initiator of revolutionary projects which are based on new modes of organization. In the City of Intelligences, an essay intended to develop our psychic force of desire, published by Céra Editions, she tells the story of a corporation where men and women shared their imagination and intelligence to concretize a dream. “If only leaders listened to poets”, writes the author.
LES AFFAIRES, Montréal
“The City of Intelligences is a magnificent essay on the transformation of our corporations.”
The book of Sylvie Gendreau presents in its form, only few points of the usual products of management editors: soft two-color prints of beige and chestnut, drawings, photographs, running texts on two columns, numerous interactive spaces in which the reader is invited to open up and invent his own experience … a beautiful object book, adaptable, or if one prefers, a “concept-book” as defines it the author herself, attempting to wake up curiosity and the senses of the reader before involving him in her voyage.
Founder, of Gendreau Communications in 1987, Sylvie Gendreau draws her inspiration from diversified sources like communication science, journalism, scientific research or publicity and proposes her enseignements drawn from more than ten years of professional experience. Who we meet in the City of Intelligences, a “democratic-corporation” founded on the free exercise of creativity in the service of a collective imagination. Some standing out representatives in science management, such as Charles Handy, co-founder of London Business School and author of the Age of Paradox, or more the practicing side, the charismatic Jack Welch , chairman of General Electric, but especially poets, philosophers, sociologists, musicians, painters, architects… actors and thinkers, without forgetting certain corporations with which S. Gendreau collaborated, particularly, A.B.I. (Aluminerie de Bécancour Inc.), a case in the book City of Intelligences developed towards the end of the work.
However, the Italian philosopher Cornélius Castoriadis, whose analyses on the evolution of modern societies developed in La montée de l'Insignifiance defines in particular the path towards the City of Intelligences. “Society” reminds the philosopher, “is never an individual collection perishable and substitutable living on such territory, speaking such a language and practicing a common culture. On the contrary, individuals belong to this society because they participate in its social imaginary significations, standards, values, representations, projects, traditions, etc, and because they share (knowing it or not) they will be part of this society, and continuously be… Individuals are the only “real” or “concrete” carriers of this society” (…)”.
Initially therefore, the City of Dreams, is to relearn, wish and imagine developing our forms of rational intelligence but the emotional too. Then, the City of Freedom to reinvent spaces in which we live in, more inspiring and free. The City of Games, is to learn and open up, support the change depending on the capacity of individuals to create it. The originality of the approach does not exclude that the most recent familiar reflections on innovation of management and science organizations will largely be found on known grounds. The traversed weaknesses of organizational models inherited by Taylor are abundantly commented upon, not only in the fact that they became unsuitable for corporations to effectively evolve in an increasingly turbulent environment, but also in their incapability of answering new employee horizons, mobilizing this increasingly essential capital that is the human capital. “Organizations, is an environment favorable to happiness?” ask the author, before underlining that “if the individual does not open up within an enterprise, how could the enterprise reinvent itself and continue to grow? “Accepting to evolve” still, says Gendreau is “agreeing to learn”, change and try to adapt. It is accepting uncertainty as a benefit and not as an obstacle”. In filigree, it is to position the individual as the true creator-actor of his professional life, stressing out several important topics from actual present themes of the learning organization to the organization as a living system. As a whole, a book from an expert in communication.
The Paths of Creation.
Dazed by the waltz at 1000 times which condition our professional activities ending up like a kind of an inhibitor on the desire to think - making things differently, we often act less than react.
Thus men and women - the “professionals” - in general, are short of the possibility of looking forward, envisaging and finding space to create and project, becoming exhausted to constantly readjust their objectives in a highly computerized world confining them in a closed circle: that permanent correction. For Sylvie Gendreau, life is elsewhere.
Recognized for her leadership and creativity, Sylvie Gendreau seeks to open new paths in a field needed it badly. The book she has just published touches all the angles in a way which will attract professionals and others, in addition to philosophical and literature dimensions, which should impassion the traditional reader.
The City of Intelligences contains what titillates the “sensitive” fiber which, too often, sleeps inside. A fresh bath and a good dose of vitamins at this ending century where companies in particular, seem divided between rules, values and old-fashioned ways, on the one hand, and the obligatory adaptation to a technology whose perpetual evolution is enough to feel dizzy.
It is precisely to counter pernicious effects of this annoying tendency losing contact with oneself - the true sense of the term “alienation” (losing bond with oneself) -, with our reference marks, desires and our motivations of the moment, that Sylvie Gendreau mobilized until writing this original book.
An essay destined initially for executives, managers and employees, this book with neat and singular warm models with quotations from artists and writers - of Jacquard to Cioran, passing by Miro and an impressive band of others, thus the author brings back relevant remarks: on alienation precisely, I found on page 184 of this book which account more than 500: “Each of himself spoke for himself a foreign language” (Valerie-Catherine Richez).
A quotation of Albert Einstein serves a warning, as a conclusion: “… the number of creative personalities decreased. And the community does not discover these beings anymore which it essentially needs. The mechanical organization substituted the innovative man partially.” Moreover, certain essential questions are posed to the reader, who is invited to reflect on various aspects of his competences and emotions, by expressing himself using the blank spaces specifically put in the book.
The author challenges the desire in each, to do better and more, speaks in praise of the imagination and constant creativity, stressing the crucial importance of positivism as a global attitude, seen as a starting point of any action.
She proposes four sections of an invented approach: The City of Dreams, where she invites us “to develop our psychic force to wish”; The City of Freedom, where the workplaces are recreated as Socrates had thought: “Freer, more dynamic and inspiring.” In the City of Games, the author suggests to corporations “inspire the philosophy of games reaching change, without clash, transforming the workspace into a blooming place for all.”
She supports her remarks by examples from corporations who managed to make training and work a pleasure. Finally, In the City of Intelligences, she shows the possibility of reinventing communication networks thanks to a humanistic culture and the use of multimedia. Far from promulgating ready-made recipes, she rather proposes key factors making it possible to create our own models.
Isn’t there where true productivity is born?