Archive pour novembre, 2013


Ecrit par makploga sur . Publié dans Entreprise, Opinon, Performance


The myth of scientific management has all but disappeared, yet the industrial world continues to overvalue methods that have been standardized from outside the business environment, at the expense of creative solutions developed within companies themselves. Isn’t it time to change the approach? Michel Berry, founder of the Paris School of Management, has long cultivated an attention to the singularity of situations. But how does one share the intelligence hidden in things singular? How should one train, transmit knowledge and exchange views? Envisioning management as an art overcomes these contradictions.


ParisTech Review – At the foundation of the Ecole de Paris du management is the notion that there is inherent uniqueness in practices, which is an element that the project of a scientific management stumbles on. Let us start with the moment in time when management sciences came into crisis. Can it be pinpointed?

Michel Berry – At the very least it traces back to the moment this crisis was formulated for the very first time, in the early 1980s. But to really comprehend what played out back then, we must go back two decades before that.

Management science developed in the 1960s around a dream: to become, to the decision maker, what ballistics is to a gunner: a foolproof method, allowing to infallibly be right on the mark.

Up until then, management was taught in business schools by managers, practitioners who extrapolated from their experience. The era of the 1960s was a disruption: you can define it as a process of stepping back, with the creation of a body of methods and theories.

At this point, American universities saw the emergence of veritable management departments, which conducted research. The discipline structured itself. Sub-disciplines appeared, like an array of new frontiers scouted by magazines as well as by evaluation, recognition and co-optation processes. We thus moved in a few years’ time from a field that was envisioned and taught as a practice to a discipline that was organized along the lines of hard science. Research literature is an excellent indicator of this trend: we can observe how researchers focused on formal criteria, attempted to model their thinking by using mathematical formulas, and tested their hypotheses through battalions of statistical tables…

tableauxLet us note in passing that it was at this time that management indicators were developed, which were to later on flood companies. True, the scientific organization of work had laid the groundwork for this trend since the inter-war years, but it was not until the 1960s that the idea of scientific management went to its full extent. If we had to cite but one name here, that would be that of Herbert Simon, President of the Department of Industrial Management at Carnegie Tech, who received the Nobel Prize in 1978. He has done much to develop the field and give it a rigorous framework.

Was this scientific management quick to go beyond the boundaries of universities?

Yes it was, and it was the core of the great transformation that the industrial world was undergoing at the time. The spirit of this transformation was the idea of optimization and rationalization. These were years of strong economic growth, and people cultivated the idea of strictly controlling this growth. In European countries, this whole idea of planning was then the heart of the action, and in the United States people set out to streamline businesses, decision making, and performance measurement: everything became an object of economic calculation. The leader, by definition, was henceforth he who controlled such calculation.

At first, the results were extraordinary. Europeans watched with envy and a hint of concern those American achievements, which some observers attributed to a scale effect; others, nevertheless, such as Jean- Jacques Servan Schreiber, a famous French journalist and politician, associated such success with a management gap. Hundreds of students were thus sent to American universities and European business schools as well as engineering schools began to develop a keen interest in management science.

It worked for a while, for reasons we can now understand: in an economy of scarcity, where the big challenge is how to meet demand, rigor and optimization are valuable qualities. More subtly, managers for some time got to argue that their decisions were of a scientific nature, which helped them to be obeyed and which contributed to the smooth running of their organizations. An entire mythology then developed around the idea that such methods were to prevail not only owing to their intellectual quality, but also because they were the victors’ methods – the methods of those who had won World War II, and who were triumphing in economic terms as well.

However, as early as the 1970s, and partly as a result of the oil price shocks and of exchange rate fluctuations, the U.S. economy slowed down. Large conglomerates like GM were no longer perceived as magnificent, well-oiled machinery, but instead like behemoths that were a bit amorphous and whose products were no longer the stuff of dreams. For opposite them formidable competitors had appeared whose methods were vastly different: the Japanese.

So it was the Japanese that brought about the downfall of scientific management?

KaizenAt any rate they did, concerning a certain vision of scientific management. That is the finding, in 1982, of a book that left a mark in its epoch, In Search of Excellence. The authors, Thomas Peters and Robert Waterman Jr., explained the success of the Japanese by the intelligence of their industrial methods, which made up a very different cocktail: “three grams of science, one quart of feeling!” What counts is the man. The Japanese approach, through various forms including the famous Toyotism or quality procedures implemented through the kaizen method, was primarily pragmatic. It didn’t plan, nor did it pretend to control everything from beginning to end, but it relied on the contributions of employees, who were enrolled in a logic and mindset of continuous improvement.

In the Japanese experience there were very profound lessons to be learned. However the trick was taken: its legacy boiled down to, chiefly, recipes catalogs of sorts… And while the math was challenged, the idea that there are universal methods remained.

As early as the 1970s, however, a number of researchers and practitioners began having second thoughts. For instance it is at this point that the Scientific Management Center of the École des Mines, a major French engineering school, began to evolve. It was founded in 1960 with the aim to find the right models, but in the 1970s it embarked on quite a different approach, which consisted in understanding the deep underlying mechanisms of organizations. The Management Research Center of Ecole Polytechnique, established in 1972 by Bertrand Collomb and that I started running in 1975, took a similar path, with both centers strongly interacting together. They laid the foundations for clinical research, that is to say, one that is conducted closer to practical realities in the field, unlike the work of business schools, that are all too often cut off from practice, as surprising as it may seem.

… and the early 1990s saw the creation of the Ecole de Paris du Management, which explicitly defined itself as a response to the crisis of scientific management.

Our intuition was that while problems are universal, answers are singular. Answers differ from one place to another, from one sector to another, but also, as was shown in 1989 by Philippe d’Iribarne in his remarkable book The Logic of honor, from one country to another.

In the field, the right answers are singular, and not always reproducible. They require extraordinary and often overlooked inventiveness. It is precisely this singular intelligence that I wanted to promote by creating the Ecole de Paris du Management, which is not a higher education institution, but rather a forum for discussion and reflection on practices, envisioned through the perspective of what is unique and singular in them.

Yet there is a risk of ending up trapped in said singularity: experience, in fact, only refers to itself.

It’s indeed a risk, yes, but it one that we are willing to take, and I shall go further: it is somehow embedded into the method. One of our recent sessions revolved around the leader of the Patrouille de France – the acrobatic demonstration team of the French Airforce. It would be hard to top such extreme singularity. However it is precisely by exploring it that we can develop new ideas that will allow for a better comprehension of other situations, here and there. The foreword of the nineteenth volume of the Annals of the Ecole de Paris, which cover all the research carried out in 2012, is entitled “In the manner of the Patrouille de France” to advance the idea that the latter may very well become a paradigm for tomorrow’s efficient businesses.

The central idea is to reason through case studies, not by analyzing them from the outside – at the risk of resorting to the known to supersede the unknown – but rather by having them told by the actual doers. The way practice informs decisions, it seems to me, is in general disregarded. Talking to the doers, letting them tell their story actually provides the opportunity to break the deadlock.

First of all they are the ones who speak, and they are not theoreticians: even when they use elements of theoretical language, they are first and foremost bearers of a particular experience, a firsthand account that won’t easily lend itself to be reduced to some kind of agreed language. And precisely the form used, that of the narrative, plays a central role here. First, for it allows one to communicate such experience vividly, but especially, for it allows the personalized account of a situation: the story is what allows us to say what we have experienced.

Somehow, this is exactly the opposite of a PowerPoint presentation. For it is my firm belief that what consultants are all too often compelled to produce is in fact… an antimodel. They arrive in a company and undertake to copy and paste their model, generally oblivious of the history of this company or even worse, acting as if it had never occurred. Yet it precisely has taken place: this particular story took place in a particular setting. And it is this very story that wants to be heard in order to understand an organization that was built over time, as problems came and went that demanded solutions, sometimes improvised, and sometimes patiently devised.

Of course, it is good to bring some fresh air in a company, to give an idea of what is being done elsewhere, of solutions that are being developed outside. But it seems to me that the industrial world today is overvaluing external solutions, specifically those coming from consultants, and more often than not fails to recognize the often creative solutions developed within companies by their own workforce. The Ecole de Paris seeks precisely to highlight the latter. This is a way to shine a spotlight on them.

Reasoning by case studies is now widespread in schools.

Yes it is, and moreover it’s a longstanding tradition. But it had long been a marginal practice and remains so in academic research. It was Harvard University that invented the case method in the early twentieth century. The Management Department was originally attached to the law school, and you know that in a common law system, reasoning primarily derives from jurisprudence, hence the case studies. Harvard has therefore developed and refined this culture of cases studies, which even today makes it the university that is closest to businesses. What is not known is that for researchers to engage in this process is akin to professional suicide – for when you are doing case studies you usually have no time to write as many publications as your competitors. So you have two possibilities, then: either you are tenured at Harvard (and your tenure is confirmed within six years), or you aren’t worth much anymore on the academic market. Because other American universities are doing research and not cases studies.

Harvard is therefore relatively isolated. While it’s true that case studies are used in business schools, they are taught in a much less ambitious way: the cases are still envisioned as some examples of a more general lesson. Which, let us be clear about it – is quite legitimate. However we can also, and it is equally interesting, scrutinize what is unique and singular in these cases.

This is not without consequences, because it leads to shift the focus. For example, by emphasizing the uniqueness of situations one is compelled to give greater credit to the intelligence of the manager, to take into account the part played by the doer, the business practitioner. This is quite another way of envisioning companies, far from the visions that reduce men to mere dots on a matrix. Managers are not interchangeable, they cannot be moved around like pawns in a game of checkers.

Then there is the question of what we theoreticians can bring to a practitioner. As such what he or she is experiencing in coming to tell us his story is very important, and can put us on the right track: the actual process of giving it shape is a crucial moment, and we can help him – especially during the dialogue that follows the presentation, but also before it, during preparatory work – to think, to reflect. We can help managers formulate their experience. With the extreme precaution, of course, not to do so in their place, sieving it out through what we already know.

Furthermore, a theoretical contribution can be a welcomed asset to help them shape their experience. Theories can help – provided they are used in a non-normative manner.

The literary dimension seems to be one of the highlights of your method.

Yes, and for several reasons. The story, as I said earlier, is fundamental. The narrative is a way to give food for thought, and it allows for stimulation of the temporal aspect and of everything that refers to it – the duration, events, twists, acceleration times, waiting times, suspense. One of the greatest books ever written about finance is a novel by Emile Zola:Money. Storytelling allows to understand a great many things, including for the one who is doing the telling.

The report that follows each session is finely wrought, literarily speaking, and some of these texts have become bestsellers, read by tens of thousands of readers. We have several rapporteurs who are true authors. Not only do they write well, they also become committed to the text as a writer would: even though it is obviously imperative that they remain faithful to the original context, their reports are something other than simple transcriptions.

A_Reading_in_the_Salon_of_Mme_Geoffrin,_1755_SmallHowever, spoken storytelling and written report are only half the battle. There are also exchanges, and here we are in line with a centuries-old tradition, that of the philosophical salons of the eighteenth century and the art of conversation. It would be wrong to take this lightly: no need to go back to Plato to understand that a well conducted conversation is a way to generate ideas, to advance the understanding of a situation. Leaders are often isolated, and they appreciate the exchange of experiences. A dialogue between doers, but also between doers and researchers will enrich each other. I am sure you have understood that what is emerging behind this approach is a certain level of attention to the human element. We could talk, as such, of a humanist project.

In contrast to scientific management, shouldn’t we speak of a culture of management then?

Indeed we should, and this is probably how we can navigate the trap of singularity: the development of a managerial culture is central to our project, which focuses on gathering around what is singular.

Going further still: management, considered under such light, can be defined as an art. A decision may be observed, and sometimes admired, as a work of art. And a work of art is at once a deeply personal gesture, which puts forth a style, and a gesture that is rooted in tradition, and in references – a culture.

Works are important. Even more so given that for many reasons, the way management is taught today tends to standardize. In the early 1990s, I got to observe the development of a general and radical critique of business schools in the United States: they were accused of having locked themselves in academic models, of ignoring the reality companies were facing. This criticism led them, at first, to seek alternative routes, focusing on experiences such as ours at the Ecole de Paris. But in 1996 the U.S. economy was back on track and the criticism of business schools receded, although they had not changed much yet. The appetite for alternative schemes subsided.

Since the early 2000s, the whole world has been trying to copycat the most prestigious U.S. business schools. A certain degree of standardization derives from it, further enhanced by an obsession with rankings which tends to snuff out any originality. One element of this standardization is the growing importance of criteria related to academic research in these rankings. This promotes fairly homogeneous profiles, that are away from the field, and which are summarized in the figure of the global english-speaking researcher that publishes in “A”-ranking journals. That is all very well, but they all look alike, and where is actual practice to be found in all this? Management education, which had freed itself in the 1990s from the shackles of “scientific management”, has today regressed into a kind of scholasticism – a quasi-theological discourse, which formats both language and minds, more and more disconnected from reality.

It is in this context, I believe, that it would be appropriate to consider management as an art. This puts the singularity of practices and styles back at the center of the agenda. This puts reality itself back at the center of the agenda. It allows for training and transmission, but also for criticism. For criticism plays a major role in art, even if the artists find it to be unjust: it compels them to surpass themselves, and it contributes to the staging of their art, and the introduction of a plot, that captivates the audience and in return stimulates further creation. Alas this feature is sorely lacking in management. While we often hear criticism of the management of companies, it is not as in critical art a critique carried out by connoisseurs that advances the craft, but often a conflict between opposing black and white visions that is not very helpful. That is why, at the Ecole de Paris, we attach such importance to the debate: it is our function as art critics, the art in question here being management.

Transmission, it seems to me, is also a key and totally underestimated issue. And yet education only covers part of what is at stake here. We can teach models – it’s not even very difficult. But how to convey what makes the gist of a decision, the actual quality of a manager? This is something that one often learns in the field, over time. Acknowledging management as an art allows to go a little further by considering other, more elaborate forms of learning.

Today, we are caught between the abstract and standardized aspect of training models – which all in all does not teach much to the future manager – and the reality of learning in the field, which is informal and haphazard. There is room for a third way.

What might it look like then?

Let us once more go back to our artwork metaphor, which can provide some ideas. In the training of an artist, there is the acquisition of bases: music theory for musicians, the framing of a shot for filmmakers… these fundamentals can be taught. Well, in much the same way, a future manager can be taught elements in accounting, finance, production management, marketing…

However these bases, which we learn in school, are but a prelude. And this is where the example of artists allows to advance the topic. Because their training actually never ends, and once they are out of school it persists in another form: artists continuously seek to improve their culture. A filmmaker spends time in cinematheques, a painter in museums, all the while being curious, voracious even, to meet artwork very different from their own. Similarly, managers will greatly benefit from expanding their culture: to have an idea of theories, of course, but also to be acquainted with the works of others, to never hesitate to take an interest organizations vastly different from their own.

This culture, considered as a method of learning, strikes me as being paramount. This is one of the challenges of the Ecole de Paris, but it also in this manner that we may address the different moments in the course of a life during which a manager gets to face different experiences – different works, if we stick to the metaphor. These times are for example internships, and the importance of having a good tutor is essential because it is thanks to him that you will get to understand the meaning and value of what you observe; it will also be the learning, defining moments that occur over the course of a career, when it is well managed.

But for a manager, the opportunities to expand culture through experience are not numerous enough, or more precisely they are not varied enough. Hence the importance of mediation, which will let him access other experiences; hence also, the necessary constitution of a legacy. Physicians have had a famous maxim since ancient times: “Ars longa, vita brevis” – art is long, life is short. This is exactly how we should envision what we now call the “career” of a manager: a long and diversified learning process, which over time allows for the acquisition of culture, the know-how, and the personal touch that characterize true mastery.


Auteur Michel Berry / Founder and CEO, Ecole de Paris du Management  Source :

8 conseils pour apprendre à se présenter de façon percutante en 30 secondes

Ecrit par makploga sur . Publié dans Entreprise, Innovation


Comment faire pour que les gens s’intéressent à vous lorsque vous ne disposez que de 30 secondes pour les convaincre? Ce type de problématique peut se rencontrer dans toutes sortes de situations : à un entretien de recrutement, lors d’une soirée, ou même lorsqu’on tombe nez à nez avec un décisionnaire clé dans un ascenseur, par exemple. « La plupart des gens ne sont pas capables de présenter brièvement leurs réalisations de manière efficace. Ils ne sont pas habitués à se vendre en quelques phrases accrocheuses », affirme Paul McDonald du cabinet de recrutement Robert Half. Le site Business Insider a énuméré 8 des conseils qu’il donne pour se présenter rapidement et efficacement :

✔ Sachez où vous voulez aller

Votre argumentaire doit permettre de répondre à trois questions. « Qui êtes-vous?», «Que faites-vous? » et «Où allez-vous, que recherchez-vous? ». Si vous ne connaissez pas vous-même votre objectif, personne ne peut vous aider à y parvenir.

✔ Présentez-le en quelques points

Examinez votre CV ou profil sur LinkedIn et écrivez 4 points qui illustrent parfaitement pourquoi vous êtes unique. Mentionnez vos expériences précédentes, votre formation, vos compétences, vos réalisations, et vos objectifs. Evitez tous les détails inutiles.

✔ Racontez une histoire.

Les gens aiment les histoires, donc donnez-leur ce qu’ils veulent, d’autant qu’elle leur permettra de mieux se souvenir de vous. Dans « Public Speaking and Influencing Men in Business », le gourou du développement de soi Dale Carnegie explique bien que nos cerveaux sont des machines à associations et que nous nous souvenons mieux des choses ou des gens quand nous les associons à une histoire.

✔ Éliminez le jargon.

N’utilisez pas d’abréviations ou de termes techniques inconnus des profanes. « Simplifier les idées complexes est un véritable art», estime McDonald. Une bonne méthode pour apprendre à le faire consiste à imaginer d’expliquer à vos parents ce que vous faites.

✔ Assurez-vous que vous invitez à la conversation

Votre argumentaire doit laisser votre interlocuteur avide d’en savoir plus. Votre présentation doit être assez convaincante pour susciter des questions.

✔ Chronométrez-vous.

Assurez-vous que vous pouvez délivrer votre argumentaire en moins de trente secondes. S’il est plus long, réduisez-le.

✔ Filmez-vous.

Vous devez être conscient de votre attitude lorsque vous racontez votre histoire. Êtes-vous intéressant? Crédible? Assurez-vous de laisser une bonne impression.

✔ Entraînez-vous avec vos amis et collègues.

Dès que votre argumentaire est prêt, vous devez le pratiquer devant des amis et des collègues et demander leur avis honnête, et des conseils pour vous améliorer. Continuez de vous entrainer jusqu’à ce que vous vous sentez suffisamment à l’aise pour l’utiliser en situation réelle.

Source :

Création d’entreprise : le bon pitch pour convaincre un investisseur

Ecrit par makploga sur . Publié dans Entreprise, Performance

Séduire un parterre de business angels est un exercice de haut vol qui ne souffre aucune improvisation. Nos conseils pour éviter les pièges et vous montrer percutant.

Dans un couloir de la Maison des associations de la ville de Boulogne, près de Paris, ­Nicolas Gueugnier pa­tiente, un peu tendu. Ce jeune patron d’une trentaine d’années est là pour présenter à une vingtaine de business angels l’entreprise qu’il a cofondée avec trois associés. Big Moustache, c’est le nom de sa société, vend des rasoirs et des lames par abonnement sur Internet. Ce soir, Nicolas doit se montrer assez clair et convaincant pour lever plusieurs centaines de milliers d’euros. Un pactole dont Big Moustache a besoin pour accroître sa notoriété et faire son trou dans un marché hyperconcurrentiel verrouillé par les géants Gillette, Bic ou Wilkinson.

Nicolas s’est longuement préparé à ce grand oral. Pour lui comme pour les sept autres équi­pes qui présenteront leur business lors de cette soirée, l’exercice est redoutable. En très peu de temps – cinq minutes chrono par entrepreneur pour cette présentation –, ils doivent vendre du rêve aux investisseurs tout en respectant le principe de réalité et se démarquer sans sortir d’un cadre très structuré. Un exercice de style délicat pour les créateurs, mais un format plébiscité par tous les acteurs du financement, qu’ils soient business angels, capital-risqueurs ou organisateurs de concours.

Ce soir-là, trois des huit entrepri­ses auditionnées ont passé avec succès la première étape de ce processus qui va encore durer plusieurs mois. Big Moustache en fait partie. Nous avons analysé sa présentation (lire page ci-contre) pour com­prendre ce qui a bien fonctionné dans son approche. Et recueilli les conseils de spécialistes de la ­finance et de la présentation orale pour vous aider à réussir haut la main un tel exercice.

Cadrez précisément le timing de votre présentation

Isolated stopwatch. Clipping path included.La première caractéristique d’une telle présentation est de se dérouler sur une durée extrêmement brève, de l’ordre de quelques minutes. Un maître de séance, parfois muni d’un sablier visible par tous, veille au respect du temps imparti. Ceux qui débordent se verront couper sèchement la parole ; à l’inverse, les interventions trop cour­tes seront suivies d’un silence pesant. «Les auditeurs pardonnent d’autant moins les dérapages que la contrainte est clairement affichée dès le départ. Avec un peu d’entraînement, elle est facile à respecter», insiste Julien Dubois, délégué général d’Investessor, premier réseau de business angels en France. Pour que votre speech colle au temps imparti, la seule solu­tion est de vous préparer en répé­tant, chronomètre en main. Dans l’arène, ne multipliez pas le nombre d’orateurs. Un seul suffit si l’on veut souligner qu’il y a un leader, deux si l’on veut au con­trai­re montrer le caractère complémentaire de l’équipe de ­direction. Pas plus.

Soignez votre accroche en ménageant l’effet de surprise


On n’a jamais deux fois l’occasion de faire une bonne première impression. Ce précepte est hélas souvent négligé. La plupart des ­intervenants commencent par se présenter longuement en déclinant leur nom et la fonction qu’ils se sont attribuée dans l’entreprise, voire en racontant les origines de leur projet : or ce n’est pas par là que vous devez commencer. C’est au cours des premières secondes que la capacité de mémorisation de l’auditoire est la plus grande : il est donc important que l’introduction soit la plus originale possible.

Lorsque vous pénétrez dans la pièce, les investisseurs sont souvent encore en train de commenter l’audition précédente. Il faut donc trouver un moyen de capter leur attention. Vous pouvez pour cela commencer par une phrase interrogative («Saviez-vous que…») qui va les impliquer. Utilisez également un chiffre frappant, une anecdote, un fait original, voire une photo. «J’ai assisté à une présentation où le patron a commencé son discours en disant : “C’est en mangeant une pizza que j’ai eu l’idée de créer ma société de logiciels”, raconte Pierre Morsa, ­directeur créatif de la ­société Ideas on Stage (formations à la présen­tation). Cette entrée en matière drôle et inattendue a tout de suite excité ma curiosité.»

Concentrez-vous sur les informations essentielles

Priority stampEn quelques minutes, on ne peut bien sûr pas tout dire. Beaucoup de porteurs de projet oublient cette loi d’airain et tentent de faire passer le maximum d’informations à la cadence d’un tir de kalachnikov. Une erreur fatale que les Anglo-Saxons ont baptisée la «malédiction du savoir» : plus on connaît les ­détails de son business, plus on a de mal à en faire le résumé. Or les investisseurs qui auditionnent des centaines d’entrepreneurs chaque année et jusqu’à une dizaine par séance n’apprécient rien tant que la concision. «La simplification est la sophistication ultime», disait Steve Jobs, le défunt patron d’Ap­ple, lui-même une référence en matière de prise de parole en public. «Lors de la préparation du discours, soyez d’abord exhaustif, puis condensez petit à petit votre propos», conseille Philippe Courtot, le fondateur de Qualys (sécurité informatique) aux Etats-Unis, lui-même investisseur dans le secteur de la technologie.

Pour réussir à être concis, demandez-vous, pour chaque information, si elle est vraiment indispensable. A contrario, n’hésitez pas à marteler une idée forte. «Les porteurs de projet doivent d’abord se concentrer sur ce qu’on attend d’eux et non pas sur ce qu’ils veulent faire», alerte Philippe Courtot. ­Ce souci d’aller à l’essentiel doit aussi guider le choix et la conception des visuels, souvent trop chargés et, du coup, incompréhensibles. Sur vos slides, pour illustrer vos propos, privilégiez les photos, les dessins, les graphiques plutôt que les tableaux de chiffres et les longs paragraphes illisibles de loin.


Faites preuve de dynamisme et de détermination

Etonnamment, quand on interroge les business angels sur leurs motivations, ils évoquent de prime abord un «coup de cœur» et non les perspectives financières. En la matière, la personnalité du ou des porteurs de projet est déterminante. «Il faut bien admettre que cet exercice ne favorise ni les ti­­mides ni les introvertis», concède Guy Gourevitch, vice-président de IT Angels, une association de ­business angels spécialisée dans le secteur des technologies de l’information. Logique, car les inves­tis­seurs partent du principe qu’une entreprise doit être dirigée par une personnalité capable ­de séduire de futurs clients et partenai­res. Pour vous montrer convaincant, exercez-vous à ­moduler la puissance de votre voix en fonction de différentes tailles de salles. Si vous montez à deux sur scène, celui qui ne parle pas doit surveiller sa posture. «Souvent, l’associé qui n’a pas la parole se tient mal et donne l’impression de s’ennuyer, observe Pierre Morsa d’Ideas on Stage. Pourtant, son attitude corporelle est aussi importante que celle de l’orateur.»

Autre recommandation : adressez-vous directement à l’auditoire. Inspirez-vous des shows d’entrepreneurs aguerris comme Evan Williams, le cofondateur de Twitter, ou Sheryl Sandberg, la directrice générale de Facebook : ils ne quittent jamais la salle des yeux (on peut voir notamment leurs prestations sur le site Ted ).


Soyez capable de justifier vos données financières


Mais la forme ne fait pas tout : les investisseurs attendent aussi du fond, c’est-à-dire des prévisions chiffrées, au minimum sur trois ans. Chiffre d’affaires, Ebitda, résultat net, nombre de salariés, parts de marché… Ces données sont regroupées par écrit dans des tableaux prévisionnels distribués à l’auditoire. Surtout, ne tendez pas le bâton pour vous faire battre. «A partir du moment où vous communiquez un chiffre, vous devez être capable de dire sur quelles hypothèses il a été calculé», prévient Guy Gourevitch de IT Angels. Lors de la séance de questions qui suit l’exposé, il est fréquent d’entendre des phrases du type : «En n+2, vous mentionnez un Ebitda de 62.000 euros. Comment est-il compatible avec une marge nette de 60.000 euros ?» Impossible de s’en tirer en noyant le poisson. Les business angels, qui analysent des centaines de dossiers par an, ont le don de repérer les incohérences en une fraction de seconde…

Avant le grand jour, faites-vous “crash-tester” par des proches

Il est impossible de prévoir toutes les questions qui seront posées, mais quelques séances d’entraînement avec son entourage permettent de s’habituer à l’exercice. Le jour J, attendez-vous à être bousculé. «Les investisseurs ont du respect pour les créateurs d’entreprise, mais les pousser dans leurs retranchements fait partie du jeu», souli­gne Guy Gourevitch. Les questions déstabilisantes sont donc mon­naie courante. L’ironie est souvent de mise avec des phrases du type : «Je n’ai pas bien compris quel était votre avantage compétitif.» Un candidat malheureux à une levée de fonds se souvient avoir bafouillé quand on lui a demandé s’il était prêt à émettre des BSA (bons de souscription d’actions). Sa réponse évasive lui a valu un glacial : «Eh bien, cher ami, revenez nous voir quand vous y aurez réfléchi.»

Petite astuce pour éviter les remar­ques inattendues : laissez de côté quelques aspects de votre projet pendant votre intervention. «C’est un moyen efficace d’orienter sans en avoir l’air les questions vers les points forts que l’on veut argumenter», s’amuse ­Nicolas Gueugnier, de Big Moustache. Enfin, un bon truc consiste à conclure avec un slide contenant une information sur un sujet que vous maîtrisez parfaitement et à le laisser affiché pendant la séance de questions.


Apprenez à corriger le tir en cas de refus d’une levée de fonds

Dans ce parcours du combattant, il y a plus de recalés que d’élus. Mais un échec n’a rien de définitif. Analysez à froid vos manquements afin de corriger le tir. Et rappelez les investisseurs pour leur demander conseil. «Je me tiens toujours à la disposition des candidats pour leur expliquer les raisons de notre refus», souligne Julien Dubois. Parfois, le simple fait de vous représenter à un autre moment de l’année fera pencher la balance en votre faveur. Pour des raisons d’ordre fiscal (l’investissement dans les PME est déductible pour moitié de l’ISF), les pitchs de janvier trouvent des oreilles plus attentives, les business ­angels se montrant alors plus enclins à dénouer les cordons de leur bourse.

Auteur :  Laurent Ducoux


novembre 2013
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