Laurent Ledoux's blog

A short introduction and modest tribute to some of my favorite “thinkers”, other than Montaigne (Quotes I would have liked to add to my banner)

Hereunder I voluntarily mix philosophers and management “gurus” from Europe and other parts of the world. It might seem odd but it reflects well what I’m interested in: in management, in philosophy and in the mix of both. That is also why, with some friends we have set up a company, Philosophy & Management to organize seminars where philosophers and managers meet, where we can reflect philosophically, freely and critically on management issues (for more info, see

picture2.jpg“Nature is infinite in time and space.”

Marcel Conche, contemporary French philosopher, great scholar on the presocratics and on Montaigne. “Penser à l’infini”, which I intend to translate into English, is perhaps is most personal book and an excellent synthesis of his life’s work. He introduced me to numerous great philosophers such as Pyrrhon, Anaximander, Omar Khayyam (see below) or Montaigne. I had the great privilege to visit him and spent a full week-end discussing with him. Despite the years that separate us and the fact that we have met only once, I consider him one of my dearest living friends for all he brought me through his books.

picture3.jpg“Today’s problems often come from yesterday’s solutions.”
“Dividing an elephants in half does not produce two small elephants, it produces a mess.”

Peter Senge, management guru and former “colleague” at Arthur D. Little (I never had the chance to meet him), author of the classics “The learning organization” and “The Fifth discipline”.

picture4.jpg“Our Greek tradition regarding strategy is one with plans prepared in advance, with heroic acts. It is anchored in means and goals. But, in China, we can discover a different concept of efficacity: one where one tries to let it advent effortlessly instead of struggling to reach it”

Francois Jullien, philosopher, sinologist and advisors of many multinationals in their ventures in China, his books revisit occidental philosophy through the lens of oriental philosophy (“Traité de l’efficacité”, “Penser autrement”, “De l’universel, du commun et de l’informe”,…). He is a regular and excellent speaker at our “Philosophy & Management” seminars. In his highly insightful analysis of Western and Chinese concepts of efficacy (A treatise on Efficacity), François Jullien subtly delves into the metaphysical preconceptions of the two civilizations to account for diverging patterns of action in warfare, politics, and diplomacy. He shows how Western and Chinese stategies work in several domains (the battle-field, for example) and analyzes two resulting acts of war. The Chinese strategist manipulates his own troops and the enemy to win a battle without waging war and to bring about victory effortlessly. Efficacity in China is thus conceived of in terms of transformation (as opposed to action) and manipulation, making it closer to what is understood as efficacy in the West. Jullien’s brilliant interpretations of an array of recondite texts are key to understanding our own conceptions of action, time, and reality in this foray into the world of Chinese thought. In its clear and penetrating characterization of two contrasting views of reality from a heretofore unexplored perspective, Treatise on Efficacy will be of central importance in the intellectual debate between East and West.

picture7.jpg“If it was wrong, they would have made it illegal, wouldn’t they?” Much of the time, most of us are ethically lazy. The law is often acting as the substitute for personal morality. The need to secure the next step stops us looking to see where the path is leading or what we are missing by not looking around us as we travel. Should one follow the market or try to lead it?”

Charles Handy, social philosopher & management guru, author of classis such as “The empty raincoat”, “The elephant & the flea”,…

picture12.jpg“Consciously or unconsciously, managers are the ethics teachers of their organizations: all their actions or omissions send signals to the rest of their organization and, to some extend, to the rest of society.”

Joseph Badaracco, John Shad Professor of Business Ethics at Harvard Business School and author of “Defining moments: when managers have to choose between right and right” on which I partly based my seminars on business ethics.

picture1.png“When you are so full of sorrow that you can’t walk, can’t cry anymore, and think about the green foliage that sparkles after the rain. When the daylight exhausts you, when you hope a final night will cover the world, think about the awakening of a young child.”

Omar Khayyam, poet, author of famous Robaîyat (quatrains), he was also a scientist who reformed the Persian calendar.

picture13.jpg“Strategic planning is in danger of becoming just an educational fad.”

Henry Mintzberg, Cleghorn Professor of Management Studies at the Desautels Faculty of Management of McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada author of iconoclastic books such as Managers Not MBAs, The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning, The Strategy Process,…

picture14.jpg“A gift to someone else lies at the root of the social bond, because with a gift, it is a person’s self that is given by means of a thing in order to create a link with the other person, since the other person, in his dignity, is unconditionally obliged to me.”

Marcel Hénaff, professor of philosophy at the University of Santa Barbara, author among others of “Le prix de la vérité: le don, l’argent, la philosophie”, a book which I regard as essential in the development of my thinking. I had the great privilege to meet and befriend him when he gave a lecture for Philosophy & Management in march 2008.

picture15.jpg“Philosophical discourse originates in a choice of life and an existential option—not vice-versa. This existential option, in turn, implies a certain vision of the world, and the task of philosophical discourse will therefore be to reveal and rationally to justify this existential option, as well as this representation of the world. Moreover, philosophy both as a way of life and as its justifying discourse is not the attainment and deployment of wisdom, but “merely a preparatory exercise for wisdom” which “tends toward wisdom without ever achieving it”

Pierre Hadot, philosopher and philosophy historian, author of magnificent and stimulating books such as “The Inner Citadel” (on Marcus-Aurelius’ spiritual exercices) and “N’oublie pas de vivre” (on Goethe and the tradition of spiritual exercices). He shows how philosophy was and still can be a way of life, not just an academic discipline.

picture9.jpg“Ce n’est pas plus ainsi qu’ainsi ou que ni l’un ni l’autre.” (in Greek: Ou mellon)

Pyrrhon, philosopher, he accompanied Alexander the Great in his conquest and probably met in Asia the gymnosophists who lived naked and hit the ground with their feet when Alexander passed by, to express that, despite all his might, he was no more than dust. He did not write anything. This sentence comes from Aulu-Gelle cited by Marcel Conche and may represent Pyrrhon’s key idea that nothing “is”, everything is appearance, not the appearance of something but absolute appearance.

picture10.jpg“Big changes are easier to implement than small ones.”
“Morality is not related to productivity.”

Richard Farson, management guru, writer of iconoclastic books such as “Management of the absurd”, “The paradoxes of management”,…

picture8.jpg“The development of any talent involves an element of craft, of doing something well for its own sake.”

Richard Sennett, sociologist, writer of very interesting books on the sociology of capitalism, on the impact of capitalism on the character of people (“Respect in a world of inequality”, “The social corrosion of character”,…)

picture11.jpg“Nature is infinite, in a way closed to herself and without background, since there is only her. An open infinity, since Nature is nothing else than continuous creation.”

Anaximander, presocratic philosopher, this is one of his main ideas as expressed by Marcel Conche.

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