Startups face many challenges in the early years of their existence. During these critical stages, they must convince decision makers to provide them with critical resources, such as capital investments, support from startup incubators, or obtaining grants or subsidies. To succeed, entrepreneurs must present their fledgling businesses in an engaging and convincing way. As they create legitimacy surrounding their entrepreneurial project, they tend to bend reality by presenting their ideas as being far more developed and mature than is the case. While presenting a well-defined project hides the "fuzzy" aspects of innovation and creating a new business, it may present a risk that fixates and curtails the startup's ability to adjust their trajectory as they move ahead. In this paper, we study a specific formalization of innovative ideas: startup pitch decks. We analyze 121 startups as they apply to enter an incubator. In this paper, we identify common trends and differences in their content and structure. We then show how a presentation's content can be characterized using formal design theory as a descriptive language and decision-making tool by proposing a model we call "conceptual architecture". Further analysis of interactions between entrepreneurs and the incubator's selection committee explores the decision process as a design task that densifies the conceptual content of the pitch. We then suggest a process of systematic conceptual densification that could help both entrepreneurs and decision makers fully express the potential of an idea in terms of continued or future product development, or in some cases preparing entrepreneurs for a shift or "pivot" towards an alternative but conceptually related market.
Management, as it has been materialized through management principles, systems, techniques or practices, is the product of a design activity: managerial "objects" can be described and labeled and the process of their invention can be analyzed. The objective of this paper is not to state if and to what degree management can be designed, but, much more precisely and modestly, to analyze how managers within an organization can be turned into management designers. In other words, how can we organize a group of managers who decide to take management as an innovation field, i.e. a target for a design activity? In order to explore this question, we - the authors of this paper - designed an experiment: about ten managers were proposed to form a group and to take part to a workshop. Four half-day sessions took place. This paper proposes an analysis of this experiment. In order to understand the specific nature of this experiment, we first need to understand how management has been designed up to now. Literature review will analyze which kind of actors have been inventing management throughout its history and make hypothesis on which design goals were at stake and under which design regimes. With respect to the specific goal of our experiment -turning managers into management designers- and to the specific design regime we want to experiment - innovative design- we will then detail our methodology. We detail the process as it happened, at each phase of the workshop, and comment on the logics of each step. Finally, we discuss the nature of the process and conclude on the effects of the experiment in turning managers into management designers.