How an empowerment culture improves digital resilience: Lessons learned from start-ups
In conjunction with the release of our publication Journey 2026: Unlocking Virtual Dimensions, we have started a blog series that provides additional insights into future trends that may shape global industries in the next few years.
Today, we are focusing on digital resilience and how organizations must adapt to thrive in crises. One of the key levers to propel a business forward is the development of an empowerment culture.
To understand more about the benefits it can bring, we have invited Grégoire Hug, CEO and co-founder of our Fintech partner WeeFin for an interview. Let’s take a look at what we can learn from start-ups about resilience and anti-fragility.
Can you tell us about your company and the solution it provides?
WeeFin is a fintech that specializes in sustainable finance. Our mission is to democratize the usage of environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria for investors. We have developed a solution called ESG Connect that allows asset managers to create their own ESG strategies in a fully transparent way.
How would you describe the ESG market you are addressing?
The ESG market is mature in terms of adoption by customers, but it is also a market that is changing a lot in terms of scope and technology needs. For example, accounting for biodiversity in investment decisions is a very recent but powerful trend.
How can you make your organization more resilient in such a dynamic environment?
We need to adapt quickly to avoid being out-of-market following disruptive changes. It’s critical to anticipate the change and define solutions quickly. This cannot be done at my level alone; it is not sustainable. Every person in WeeFin is empowered to propose changes whenever they feel it necessary.
What inspired you to define a model like this?
The first one is more of an anti-pattern. Before creating WeeFin, I worked for traditional financial institutions, and I was struggling to innovate because the hierarchy was really slowing down the process. It was either ideas coming from the top that were not fully adapted to the local reality, or great ideas coming from employees but taking too long to be validated by the hierarchy.
The second inspiration came from Netflix and the book, No rules rule. It is about changing the organization model from a management guided by rules to a management driven by context. It doesn’t mean that the management is not there anymore, but it focuses on different things, leaving more liberty for employees to decide on the best solutions.
Creating an empowerment culture is about changing the organization model from a management guided by rules to a management driven by context.
It doesn't mean there is no control — only that the controls don’t block an individual’s initiative.
That sounds similar to what Frédéric Laloux describes in his popular book Reinventing Organizations.
According to you, what is needed to enable those decentralized decisions?
As a manager, my job is to make sure that all my employees have all the necessary information to take the right decisions. I am especially referring to the importance of regularly sharing and exchanging ideas about the company’s strategy, financing options, or challenges. There are no taboo topics when it comes to empowering our people.
When did you start to implement this, and how challenging was it?
I started this at the beginning — when I took over the full management of the company. It was done progressively with simple decisions about our daily work. For example, nobody in my organization needs my approval to purchase office supplies. Does it make sense for a big corporation to have five levels of approval to purchase a €500 mobile phone?
Would you say that this is applicable to all individuals and all types of organization?
When I hire a new colleague, I expect them to take decisions. This is true at every level of the organization, whether for the technology choices, for product innovation or marketing.
I don’t think this type of model is only applicable to start-ups like WeeFin; it is also beneficial for larger corporations. It is the same waste of energy and money for those organizations when they put controls on remote working, leaves, or expenses. However, I want to make it clear that decentralized decisioning does not mean there is no control — only that there are different controls that don’t block an individual’s initiative.
Last question, Grégoire. What will your organization look like in 2026?
In 2026, I hope WeeFin will be a key player in the sustainable finance ecosystem, and that many partners trust us to improve the impact of their ESG strategies. I’m confident that, thanks to our decentralized culture, the vast majority of the choices that led us to that position will come from our employees’ initiatives.