Terres Inconnue

Terres Inconnues principles

 Where does the name “Terres Inconnues” come from?


Excerpts from the book «Le management biologique»1

"... The first working session with the speaker totally puzzled me: it was the first time I met such an apparently discreet facilitator. Instead of teaching and guiding us, we had to find our way all by ourselves (analyzing, creating, innovating...). From time to time, he would remind us what we were doing, and I would try to remember how much I paid for this seminar!

It is only later that I realized how much … my team had become engaged from doing the work themselves and how the facilitator... had simply helped us travel through an unknown territory we had discovered all by ourselves. In the end, it is the team that knows best what it needs to do.”


The Foundations of Terres Inconnues


‐    The value of Terres Inconnues comes from its people (business partners and external associates). Any innovation, creation, reflection from Terres Inconnues members can be accessed freely – there is no intellectual property. Customers cannot be owned and no fees will be paid for relationships.

‐    Terres Inconnues enriches itself with the growth of its people. The richer their respective lives are (physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually), the greater the value of Terres Inconnues.

­‐    Terres Inconnues requires openness between its people - within the limits of respect for privacy. We operate according to the following principles which are inspired by the Human Element of W Schutz:

  • Concordance: any major decision is taken unanimously
  • Responsibility: each business partner always has the choice and is fully responsible for his/her choices. Partners are co responsible for what happens, for our successes and for our failures. We consider errors and difficulties as learning opportunities.

  • Decision-making: the person most impacted by the decisions is in the best position to make the decision as long as everyone has agreed to his/her making the decision (concordance)

  • Truth and Transparency: telling the truth - the whole truth. Sharing private and professional experiences is a source of mutual enrichment.

  • Flexibility and balance in our mutual relationships
  • A common project, defined together

‐     Terres Inconnues works with communities of people within organizations. We believe that companies are neutral entities, neither good nor bad in themselves. Our core business is to work for organizations and not only for the individuals or teams that belong to them.

­‐    Terres Inconnues has a systemic vision: we create value by working concurrently on three levels:

‐    The relationships within our clients’ organizations
­‐    The relationships within our own organization
‐    The relationship each individual has with himself

The more we work on ourselves, the more we work on our (own) organization, the better we assist our clients’ organizations.


The Qualities of Terres Inconnues’ business partners


­‐     Feel free and able to work alone but have chosen to work as a team. Believe that joining their talents with other people within an organization increases their performance.

‐    Accept the constraints of an organization and knows at times to put collective interests before individual interests.

‐    Are aware that learning and creating involves respectful and courageous conversations. Enjoy travelling through unknown territories.

‐    Aspire to align their thoughts, words, behaviors and actions both individually and collectively, within and outside the firm, in order to reach deep coherence between their professional lives and their personal values.

‐    Commit themselves for a given period
­‐    Know how to find pleasure in the missions they carry out, in their relations with the other members of the firm and clients

­‐    Have significant experience within corporations on which they can rely
‐    Are currently engaged in self-development (body, mind, emotional and spiritual intelligence)

‐    Train themselves in collective and individual coaching and facilitation (about ten days per year).

Relationships between the Terres Inconnues’ business partners

‐    Our relationship grows over time as mutual trust increases. We devote time to do so.
‐    We are coached on quarterly basis by a supervisor to metacommunicate, to take a step back and work on our strategic issues. We each also have a personal supervision of our own (professional) practice.

­‐     We agree each semester retroactively on the fair distribution of the added value generated. To do so we openly share all our professional activities, including those not done under the banner of Terres Inconnues. Generally the added value is equally split

Relationships between business partners and external associates of Terres Inconnues

­‐    We are in a network of external associates - individuals or companies – whom we rely on to carry out together our projects.

­‐    A Terres Inconnues external associate is a person who has worked with Terres Inconnues over the last 12 months.

‐    We work in full transparency (intellectual, commercial, financial and relational) with our external associates.

‐    We agree on a fair share of each contract

Terres Inconnues’ relationships with its clients

‐    Our intention is to build the autonomy of our clients. We believe our client knows the answers to its questions and has sufficient resources to develop and implement solutions. Our role is to facilitate the emergence of these answers and resources, to encourage the development of collective intelligence and organizational learning.

‐    All work done by Terres Inconnues is co-created with the client (objectives, design, and facilitation)

‐    All collective work done by Terres Inconnues is co-facilitated by a team of facilitators
­‐    All collective work done by a member of Terres Inconnues is supervised by another member of Terres Inconnues. Any individual intervention is supervised by an external supervisor. This supervision is aimed at addressing the complexity of the systems we support. Key areas to work on are go/no go decisions, how to find the right posture with the client, and finally how to finish a contract.

‐    A return-on-experience session (what we have seen, areas of concern and our recommendations for the future) is always prepared and discussed with the client at the end of our mission.


4 years to build Terres Inconnues

Trust takes time to build. It took us a year to choose each other. Then we worked together for another year in our separate companies. Only then did we create Terres Inconnues. Three of us engaged together for 3 years on a fantastic adventure, working on projects we would never have imagined doing before. Then, one of us decided to pull out. The separation was difficult to handle emotionally, but fairly easy from a business viewpoint because of our bylaws. It helped us all to grow. Now we wish to increase in size.

What we have learned

1.    Do not try to do everything at once.
2.    Bring your future partners to visit your customers and prospects - and see how cooperation works

3.    Adopt a step by step attitude on money issues.
4.    Working without property makes things easier. When we created the shareholders agreement, the business lawyer who helped us told us that if all consulting firms were to abandon customer property and brand value, he would be jobless!

5.    Plan different types of regular meetings
a.     Weekly Business meetings where we share everything that happens to us b.    Project meetings with the people involved
c.     Twice a month, 3 hour meetings for customer and Terres Inconnues strategic business issues

As a result our time together is quite significant: 2 days per month or almost 10% of the time.

6.    Give your company an external supervisor- you cannot imagine what an external eye can offer. We meet with an external coach on how we work together 3 times per year.

7.    Ask your customers what they like in your company and how you could evolve to better serve them

8.    Get help (assistant, accountant, lawyer, computer ...), it’s well worth the cost


1 Le Management Biologique – When Companies face the challenges of Companies against the challenges of living systems/human systems/human beings/human ecosystems – Pascal Gayet and Jacques Grizeaud – In Octavo Editions – 2008 -­‐ Preface written by Christian Boireau, Executive Vice President of French Sales Air France


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