Innovation is a Careful Dance Between Failure and Daring
January 14, 2016 9:29am
by Georges Panayotis
Semantics show when an assessment is not so exciting. It is common to oppose the New World and the Old Continent, to incessantly speak of new frontiers and new barriers that rise up in a Europe that protects itself. Unfortunately there is a great deal of truth behind what should only be a cliché.
Ironically, as the United States celebrated the innovative vision of the movie "Back to the Future" on October 21, 2015, in France, the exhibition "The King is Dead" was about to open at the Château de Versailles, in a celebration of that nation's great past. And yet, it is from Europe that ships left to "discover" America: a Europe that had all the winning boldness, a grain of folly and entrepreneurial explorers.
Today, Europe is adopting - and sometimes subjected to - the new economic models that cross the Atlantic at the speed of light. Yet it is not for want of imagination. In France and neighboring countries there are a multitude of pioneers in management chomping at their bits and raging about the lack of recognition. Comfortably settled in his farmyard, the French rooster exults in sending the second largest delegation of start-ups to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. We might ask ourselves why they need to leave the country to exhibit in order to grow.
Europe's old economy allows sprouts to form, but hurries to stifle them. Like giant trees in the forest, the corporate establishment prevents the natural photosynthesis of start-ups. Like back in the time of Louis XIV, the courtesans and strategists of the Sun King are more likely to succeed than innovative craftsmen. Of course this is an exaggeration, but caricature is based on a truth that needs light shed on it.
What prevents us from leading the next economic revolution? Why struggle to reinvent the oil lamp when new kinds of energy are in order for lighting the slopes that need climbing? Enterprising spirits have been paralyzed by the effort to remain isolated and protect acquired situations. In the quest for security at all costs that is characteristic of societies that are failing, the risk is considered a danger, and failure a mortal sin. In the new economies, on the other hand, it is quite the contrary: failure is a natural phase on the road to success. It is even recommended for learning one's errors and rising back up all the stronger.
In the hotel industry, innovation in Europe has long been an ingenious copy of American models that have already proved themselves on a dynamic market. There is now a new, original approach that is beginning to sprout in the Netherlands, in Belgium, in Germany and in France. These concepts that hail from an intelligent observation of new consumer behaviors and needs are still in the starting blocks. Without capital and without support, they can be easily snuffed out, or absorbed by visionary, foreign groups. Will public powers and business angels be able to revive the conquering spirit that reigned at the beginning of the industrial age? It is to be hoped for and even asked for high and loud so that this formidable opportunity to regain control over innovation does not get away.
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Georges Panayotis is President of MKG Consulting. Born in a family of hoteliers for three generations, Georges Panayotis, 51, left Greece at the age of 18 to pursue his studies in Political Sciences and to obtain his Master in Management at the French University of Paris Dauphine. He then joined the Novotel chain, which will become the Accor Group, to manage the International Marketing Division. After developing specific marketing tools for the hotel industry, he left the group in 1986 to start his own company, MKG Conseil, now MKG Group. In twenty years, the group has become the European leader in studies and consulting for the Hospitality industry. The company employs over 70 people in four departments: marketing studies, database, quality control and trade press, with two publications HTR Magazine and Hotel Restaurant Weekly. The company helped the development of over 2,000 hotels in France and in Europe, with offices in Paris, Cyprus and London. Georges Panyotis is the founder of the Worldwide Hospitality Awards and the Hotel Makers Forum, and the author of several publications on Marketing and Operations in the hotel business, He is a regular consultant for several television channels, among which Bloomberg Television, and radio networks.
Contact: Georges Panayotis
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