mc international
Management & Consulting



The Change Paradox

Changes are by definition paradoxical. Businesses are constantly facing the paradox between investing in the long term and securing their position in the market on the short term. Other 'paradoxical changes' commonly encountered by companies include: pursuing high quality and low costs; being flexible while remaining consistent; empowering employees but making sure they understand the rules and the vision of the company, etc. Thus, employees often receive conflicting informations during changing times. Organizations often fail to identify and balance paradoxes, which is why very few of them are able to maintain their competitive advantage in the long term. Thus, nine out of ten startups fail. (Forbes)

It is crucial not to confuse paradox and problem. The main difference is that problems can be solved while paradoxes need to be balanced efficiently. For example, hiring the right manager or deciding to extend a product line are problems that, once handled properly, can be resolved. On the other hand, paradoxes are contradictions that need to be balanced on an everyday basis in order for a company to be successful on the long term. Applying a problem solving approach to paradoxes is the mistake many CEOs make.

Unbalanced paradoxes lead inevitably to poor results for the company. The employees are the first affected by change. The lack of a clear strategy for change and/or the inability of the managers to communicate efficiently might lead to frustration and fear among employees, which causes high levels of turnover. Moreover, choosing one side of a paradox over the other might have long-term consequences on the organization. Last but not least, over time, the same issues might comeback if paradoxes aren't rapidly identified. The violent protest scenes that occurred at the beginning of October with Air France employees following a restructuring program is an example of extreme resistance to change. This extreme situation shows the difficulty of establishing a common ground when paradoxes emerge. Leadership and organizational culture are the two key factors to long-term success.

Hence, how do leaders of successful companies manage the change paradox? In Big winners and big losers (2006), A. Marcus writes, “Big winners base their success on being in sweet spots and having focus, discipline and agility.” Good leaders have the ability to distinguish between short term and long terms objectives and constantly balance between the exploration for new opportunities and the development of existing products or services. Therefore the main qualities for a good leader are openness to change and flexibility as well as consistency on the day-to-day operations of the company.

However, good leadership isn't enough in order to successfully implement big changes in a company. The intensity of the organizational culture plays a very important role too. When a change strategy doesn't fit the culture of the organization, it is likely to fail. Managers can find themselves caught in everyday obligations instead of establishing strategic changes because of the cultural pressure of the members of the organization. It is therefore important for them to understand how organization culture works. Still, one manager can't transform a weak organizational culture into a strong one so easily.

Organization culture has a huge impact on the strategic potential of companies. Thus, companies with strong organization culture are usually more innovative and respond better to changes in the market. Moreover, employees are more likely to respond efficiently to changes. Examples of such firms include Twitter, Google, Apple or Facebook. On the other hand, companies that don't respond well to change are often quite old and fully or partially owned by the government. In France, examples of such firms are: EDF, SNCF or La Poste among others. As seen previously with the example of Air France, employees of these companies are more resistant to change.



A critical analysis of positive thinking

According to popular belief, there is a strong correlation between happiness and productivity in the workplace. Numerous researchers also seem to naturally believe this hypothesis. Ledford called this general consensus “aesthetic preference”. While it is safe to say that positive people are more successful socially and professionally, self-imposed positivity seems paradoxical. Is positive thinking a threat to critical thinking?

Happy people do seem to be more successful. They are more likely to get a second interview, get positive feedbacks, resist burnouts, get promotions, etc. In a review of 225 studies published in 2005 by the American Psychological Association (APA), lead author Sonja Lyubomirsky, concluded that happy people are generally more successful. According to her, their happiness is a consequence of their positivity and not the reverse. Plus, she argued that happy people tend to be “confident, optimistic, and energetic” which makes them more likeable to others. Moreover, being positive and optimistic can lead to more creativity. According to a 2012 Harvard study, entrepreneurs are more goal-oriented than the average. This would explain why they keep starting companies even though 8 out of 10 businesses fail within the first 18 months. (Bloomberg, 2013)

Better organizational practices enhance productivity and therefore create more value for the company. The Hawthorne effect (Henry A. Landsberger, 1950) describes the increase of workers’ productivity as a result of being observed. This discovery resulted in the creation of human resource management. The self-determination theory (Deci and Ryan, 2000) distinguishes intrinsic motivations, which is doing something because it is inherently enjoyable and extrinsic motivation, which refers to doing something for its outcome. Three basic psychological needs are defined: competence, relatedness and autonomy. The social environment nurtures these needs. For instance, positive feedback enhances intrinsic motivations.

However, Bruckner claims that happiness has become a demand, an obligation, a “dogma”. People feel guilty and responsible if they are not happy. The paradox is that it is very hard to define happiness, as it is such a vague and imprecise concept. Hence we never know for sure if we are “fully” happy. Thus, Elizabeth Kolbert explains in an article for The New Yorker, that people often mispredict what future events will make them happy. They may give an answer that is in line with what society expects them to say, such as “moving in a new house” or “spending time with my kids” although these aren’t necessarily their real sources of happiness.

While there is evidence that experiencing true positive emotions has an impact on one’s ability to be successful, the alleged power of positive thinking needs to be tempered. One of the main critics addressed to the founding books of the positive thinking philosophy are their shallowness. Thus, the bestseller “The Secret” (2006) written by Rhonda Byrne is based on the Law of Attraction that claims that positive thinking has life-changing consequences. It also asserts that visualization helps achieving one’s desire: thoughts are things. However there is absolutely no scientific evidence proving the veracity of these hypotheses. Self-help books tell people what they want to read: anyone can achieve anything as long as they really want it. Inequalities, hard work and possibility of failure aren’t taken into account.



Business plan: management tool or creativity curb?

Only 40% of Swedish companies develop a business plan (Delmar and Shane, 2003). Moreover, successful start-up entrepreneurs such as Bill Gates or Steve Jobs didn’t write a business plan before starting their business. According to Schumpeter, “breaking established norms and rules represent an important source for economic growth and prosperity”.

The article “Judging a business by its cover: An institutional perspective on new ventures and the business plan” written by Karlsson and Honig (2009) uses a strategic institutional perspective to analyse how actors in new ventures deal with institutional pressure. Indeed, young entrepreneurs will conform with the standards of writing business plans to overcome liabilities of newness and gain legitimacy from external actors. We can trace the institutional pressures of business planning to business schools.
Often, after a couple months, the business plan becomes a symbolic device as the daily operations of the company gradually defer from the initial business planning. The conclusion of the article is that the business plan has limited usefulness and is more a symbolic tool. However, even though many unexpected issues occurred during the first months, we can imagine that it could have been worst without a business plan. Updating a business plan can be useful in order to prospect for partners.

According to Delmar and Shane (2003), business plans have several advantages. First of all, it makes the decision making faster. Writing a business plan helps managing supply and demand. Moreover, it helps identifying the activities that must be initiated.

However, entrepreneurs cannot predict and control their future completely rationally, which makes the business plan rapidly out-dated and radically different from the real situation of the company (situation of loose coupling). Moreover, the preferences of the entrepreneurs can change over time. Writing a business plan is time-consuming during a crucial period of time, which is the start of the company. Moreover, its efficiency is not proven. Honig and Karlsson wrote: “We found that those who wrote the business plans were no more likely to persist in nascent activity as compared to non-planners” (Honig & Karlsson, 2004). The article written by Karlsson and Honig also emphasizes in the lack of evidence of a potential correlation between business plan and success of a company.

Some authors even think that the business plan has inhibiting effects on the entrepreneur’s creativity. They view the opportunity as the sole result of a creative and intuitive process that has nothing to do with strategic thinking. Thus, Picasso wrote, “every act of creation is first of all an act of destruction”. Destructing existing barriers rather than conforming to formal requirements creates new opportunities.

In conclusion, the usefulness and requirement of the business plan may vary depending on the type of industry. For example, the production sector has a planning approach is consequently conducive for a business plan. Moreover, the business plan can be thought provoking at the start of the company but not so much for the every day life.


Gestion de portefeuille clients et d’opportunités d’affaires

30 novembre 2012

Les entreprises ont par définition peu de moyens. Il faut donc que ceux-ci soient utilisés avec la meilleure efficacité possible.
Il est un domaine où l’on peut, souvent améliorer d’une façon substantielle l’utilisation des ressources et en surtout augmenter le taux de succès des offres commerciales.
Pour cela il faut mettre en place une méthodologie efficace de gestion de portefeuille clients.
Parallèlement il faut également s’interroger avec efficacité et décider de la réponse ou non à un appel d’offre ou une consultation.
MC international a développé une méthodologie efficace visant à :
Optimiser le management du portefeuille clients.
• Elaboration d’une grille d’évaluation du potentiel clients.
• Mapping de segmentation du portefeuille clients.
• Optimisation de l’équilibre entre les clients et les ressources.
• Mise en place d’un plan d’action.

Aider à la décision concernant le Management d'opportunités.
• Qualification des opportunités (décision go/ not go)
• Identification d’une stratégie concurrentielle
• Stratégie à mettre en place suivant l'organisation politique du client.
• Optimisation du taux de succès
• Elaboration d’une « Hot project list »

Mesure des résultats et corrections
• Prévisions chiffrées
• Mesure et analyse des résultats
• Analyses post-mortem et action

Petit déjeuner au World Trade Center de Lille le 17 avril 2012 sur le thème : « les négociations interculturelles »

9 mars 2012
Vous êtes cordialement invités au petit déjeuné animé par Mario Casado et organisé par le Word Trade Centre de Lille le 17 avril à 8h30 sur le thème : «  les négociations interculturelles »

Voici le lien pour accéder à l’invitation : 

Comment être un commercial efficace ?

Dans la fonction commerciale on trouve trois composantes fondamentales :
   2.La vente.
   3.L’expertise du produit et du milieu dans lequel on exerce.

Les environnements et cultures d’entreprise font que la composante analyse est plus ou moins dévolue au commercial et parfois à des services marketing.

Dans tous les cas de figure subsistent les deux composantes que sont la vente et l’expertise.

Beaucoup de sociétés industrielles recrutent des ingénieurs pour des fonctions commerciales en privilégiant l’expertise technique par rapport à la personnalité et la connaissance proprement dite des techniques de vente.

Il est vital que le commercial soit expert de son produit ou service et qu’il comprenne parfaitement la problématique de ses clients. Il doit également parler un langage proche de celui de ses interlocuteurs. Si ceux-ci sont des responsables de production, d’usine, des chargés d’affaire, des scientifiques, une formation d’ingénieur est un atout important. Cependant un intérêt fort pour le produit et un excellent niveau intellectuel sont également des atouts importants : l’expérience montre qu’un commercial formé dans les grandes écoles de commerce a autant d’atouts pour réussir qu’un ingénieur dans une fonction commerciale et de management pour des produits très techniques.

Par ailleurs, notre monde est très concurrentiel et sauf à avoir un avantage concurrentiel très fort, les affaires ne se font pas sans une grande dose de combativité, de persévérance, de lutte, de tactique. Pour réussir il faut être au fond de soi un vendeur. Cela se traduit par une lutte de tous les instants pour gagner ou « arracher » des commandes. Il faut donc, et c’est essentiel, avoir un tempérament de vendeur. Le vrai vendeur est celui qui éprouve une joie intense lorsqu’il atteint ses objectifs et à l’inverse il n’accepte pas de perdre des affaires. Un vrai vendeur doit éprouver autant de sensations à vendre des usines clé en main que des chaussures. Bien sûr il faut en plus posséder l’expertise et la culture du milieu dans lequel on exerce. En France un vrai commercial exerçant dans un univers très technique n’avouera jamais qu’il préférerait vendre des chaussures plutôt que d’être muté dans un service purement technique.

Les sociétés et notre monde sont complexes et une expertise technique et une personnalité de vendeur ne sont pas suffisantes pour être un commercial efficace. Il faut en effet connaître les techniques de vente. Il faut maitriser les aspects contractuels, juridiques, les techniques de paiement et bien maîtriser les risques et opportunités liés aux affaires. Il faut également bien maîtriser les langues étrangères et « l’international » quand on exporte. Mais cela s’acquiert.

Enfin pour mettre en place une bonne stratégie déclinée sur des tactiques commerciales il est utile de connaître les méthodologies d’analyse et les pratiquer. Les bonnes sociétés élaborent chaque année un plan marketing. Celui-ci est piloté par le chef d’entreprise ou le directeur commercial et les commerciaux y sont largement associés. Dans un plan marketing sont abordés l’analyse des chiffres, les forces et faiblesses internes, les menaces et opportunités externes, les évolutions technologiques, la concurrence et les facteurs clés de succès.

En conclusion, pour être un commercial efficace il faut :

   1. Avoir une personnalité de vendeur : on l’a ou pas.
   2. Posséder l’expertise du produit et du milieu dans lequel on exerce : avoir une formation technique forte ou une curiosité pour le produit ainsi qu’un très bon niveau intellectuel. On se perfectionne par de la formation et l’expérience.
   3. Pratiquer l’analyse marketing, maîtriser les techniques de vente, pratiquer l’international: avoir une formation commerciale et internationale. Cela s’acquiert par de la formation.

Le cabinet MC International propose d’apporter aux ingénieurs exerçant des fonctions commerciales de l’analyse marketing, l’apprentissage des techniques de vente, une formation à l’international. En plus des connaissances, le coaching des ingénieurs leur apportera les « reflexes » commerciaux qui leur font souvent défaut et qui les fera progresser dans leur efficacité et dans leur carrière.

Téléphone: +33 (0) 606 43 97 17

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