[Note de lecture] Didier Goutman: “Better and more When the world gets greedy” Le blog du Communicant Didier Goutman: “Better and more

[Note de lecture] – Didier Goutman: “Better and more – When the world gets greedy” – Le blog du Communicant Didier Goutman: “Better and more

HEC graduate, business organization consultant and career coach, Didier Goutman has used his wealth of experience and the experience of the companies and managers he has accompanied to write a ferocious and relentless novel about the management mechanics that make spreadsheets Excel the only compass to manage change and performance. However, with notes of humor and hope, this work is joyful and wholesome.

Initially it is the story of the Broissard family-run restaurant group, which has just fallen into the hands of an English investment fund. Which intends to rapidly grow its financial stake for this acquisition. He appoints Thibault Mac Dermott, a dynamic squad and ruthless mercenary at the helm of the company with a clear and inflexible roadmap: to do more and better with less and less.

A lively and nervous editorial style

7 salient points punctuate the book from the acquisition of the company to its sale two years later, passing from a paternalistic and rather self-centered culture around the founder to Anglo-Saxon principles where profitability becomes the obsession and where management oscillates between the injunctions of Steve Jobs and the maximum pressure on employees. The different characters imagined by Didier Goutman appear in turn, sharing their impressions of the moment, their hopes, their doubts and their fears.

The writing style is sober, lively and nervous, in line with the hellish pace that Thibaut Mac Dermott intends to stimulate with his teams. No frills, no fancy. We have to shake the coconut tree and follow whoever can and/or wants. First of all there are the veterans, witnesses of the Broissard adventure, who discover with bewilderment the captivating and muscular style of the new boss.

Dissolution of former collaborators

There we meet (among others) an operations director and HRD who are under no illusions and try to salvage what there is to salvage as the new management progresses. There are also recalcitrant restaurateurs who go straight to arm wrestling and are not fooled by the beautiful speeches of the conferences, in exchange for strikes and retaliation. There are also those who discover a thirst for power and recognition, like the lackluster controller Leriche, who sees an opportunity to advance his career (and escape his monotonous and starched family life) and who will transform himself into a zealous jack of all trades.

Everyone elbows or ducks hoping not to be the target of the famous Key Performance Indicators that measure and eviscerate the smallest process to optimize time and money. Over time, some resign or retire early. Others collapse between burnout, disenchantment and suicide or addictions. The HRD is obsolete, the unions bypassed. He has to spit. It’s fast.

Disappointments among newcomers

Then there are the newcomers recently hired before the acquisition and just introduced by the CEO. In particular Christine Hirschner, the new financial director who, despite being an expert in Anglo-Saxon methods, will leave some illusions during the mission. Or even the very young Céline Calmejane, marketing manager, to whom the general manager immediately entrusted exciting tasks, since her N + 1 is translucent and little involved in managing her team and works primarily in her own career. There is also Laetitia Palatine, director of communications, who tries in vain to get the new management committee to adopt a CSR strategy, constantly under pressure from British investors who demand immediate results.

Everyone will do their part in the hopes of advancing their careers and getting the financial recognition their continued efforts deserve. Many are those who take the path to affect or sacrifice their private life and sit on their intrinsic values ​​to always meet the expectations of top management, which in turn is constantly questioned by the British, more than ever indifferent to the fate of these French collaborators seen as lazy and/or complaining.

Didier Goutmann

A perfect satire of totalitarian management

This novel feels like a binge of an exciting Netflix series. The anecdotes told inevitably echo anyone who has had the opportunity to work within large structures or large SMEs/ETIs absorbed by a group. In this vortex agitated by financial relationships and subtly totalitarian management, each character tries to find a direction and to adapt with more or less happiness and success. The story seems like a damn relevant and blatant satire of today’s corporate world, where dehumanization is growing day by day. With no other logic than to deposit dividends for investors on the padded carpets of London offices.

Luckily, the novel avoids the trap of total obscurity (which could have ultimately been a credible option as many organizations have turned into marauders of feverish ambitions and destroyers of squeezed expertise). Luigi Bonello, one of the historic restorers of the Broissard group, ends up recovering well. Ditto for young Céline, marketing manager, who will branch out into a universe closer to her values ​​and aspirations after almost losing the partner she loves due to her extended hours. 244 pages of pure pleasure that we would like to “offer” to these “managers” who have lost their soul before losing themselves. 244 pages that will powerfully echo the experience of anyone who has spent time in large companies.

The field?

Mac Dermott, Leriche, Calmejane, Bonello… they have nothing in common, except for one thing: they all work for the same company, the Boissard group, a chain of restaurants that has just been taken over by a group of British shareholders. And everyone must participate at their own level in the common effort to produce ever better, ever more, to increase sales and satisfy the new bosses.

While Mac Dermott has been given the challenging and motivating task of reforming the group, Bonello, a restaurant manager, experiences this new pressure on a daily basis that changes his work habits – and not always for the better. Former HRD, new communication manager, management control manager… everyone is struggling to achieve their own goals, often irreconcilable with those of others.

A realistic representation of the impossible dynamics that underlie large companies today, driving employees to bankruptcy.

Get the book on the Eyrolles editions website (release June 1, 2023)

interview with the author in the Journal de l’Economie (15 May 2023)

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