Interim Management: The Industry of fast decisions

In the ideal world, an Interim Manager has to be available by tomorrow and having a track record of success until today. Why? Because clients call you on Friday, send you the contract on Sunday and you start on Monday. But is this the real world? No, it isn’t! Let me show you the timeline of winning my actual assignment.

I was in an assignment until Dec 2010 when I’ve got approach via LinkedIn on the 4th of August 2010 from an Interim Manager with a similar background and the same mindset formed by lean thinking. He was searching for me on LinkedIn because the chief secretary of  another company highly recommended me to him. We just connected us as we could see potential synergies between his strong experience in factory conversion and my extensive experience in SG&A lean conversion.

On the 4th of October , I was at this time in Dubai, he send me a message to call him: “ Hallo Dietmar, what’s your contact number? I want to talk with you about some potential projects. My mobile number is …“. I’ve send him a SMS asking about priority and urgency. When I return, that will be early enough.

Right after my return from Dubai I called him on Sat. 23rd October. He said he is working for already 12 month setting up a complete new Lean Management System for a client but he does not want to focus only on production. He needs support to migrate the right mindset into the global acting multi-billion company. He will try to get me in, being in charge of Lean Conversion of Administration, Sales, Marketing, Finance and Project Management. He asked me how much time would I need to settle my assignment to complete satisfaction of my actual client? It’s great when someone shares the same value system.

Ready two start within two weeks notice! I talked to the CEO of my current assignment about the opportunity and presented him a plan to finalize the hand-over within two weeks. We both agreed. That means, no income until a new assignment starts. My sales pipeline beside the weak verbal opportunity at this moment: none.

Nothing happen for 6 long weeks. I called the other Interim Manager quite a few times. We’ve met and found the same wavelength immediately. But he couldn’t push the client fast enough. “ The CEO is in Asia for the next week“. „The client does not understand the urgency for the Lean Topic in the SG&A business, so far“….Should I start with cold acquisition in the mean time just to reduce the gap in case? But what if I get this assignment and many others as well? That’s not the way I want to treat clients. No, I will wait this time.

Early Dec 2010 we started developing the first contract drafts as a foundation for further discussions. Feels better. No need to acquire other new business yet, or?

Mid Dec. 2010, I’ve met the CEO of the client company. Great guy with drive and committed to real change. Great set-up. Yeah, I want to move things inside this company. He gives me an immediate positive feedback and wants to fix  everything quickly after talking to the CFO. We shake hands. I should start 3rd of January 2010. He looks like a man of honour, handshake is enough for so long.

Merry Xmas, nothing happen. We call him during his ski holidays. Answere: he had no time to fix it, yet.

Happy New Year, still no clue if I will have an assignment starting on the 3rd of Jan 2011 or not. Should I start searching for alternatives?

2nd of Jan 2011, I call the other Interim Manager. „Should I drive to the company tomorrow?“ I asked. „Makes no sense, I will check what the actual situation is“ he answered.

3rd of Jan 2011, „Come tomorrow and we’ll fix everything right here“ the Interim Manager told me on the phone.

4th of Jan 2011, driving the 100 km to get to the potential client. I won’t see the CEO. I get a visitor batch, a temporary company labtop (for data security reasons), got introduced to stakeholders and start working. Contract: None!

18th of Jan 2011, after 4 rounds of contract negotiation, an pre-investment of 10 working days (13 hours each) and 2000km expenses, I am proudly holding the contract in my hands signed by CEO, CFO and myself.

Is the Interim Management way to get called on Friday, contract on Sunday and start on Monday? Not in my world. If your world is like that, please let me know.

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2 Kommentare zu „Interim Management: The Industry of fast decisions“

  1. Hi,
    interesting post! funnily enough unfortunately I have to admit that your description is quite right. Timings for interim managers to actually get to start are getting very very long. Customers are feeling still unsure of what’s next and have difficulties tying their decisions to actions. I suppose that’s the counterprice we’re all paying from the recent economic environment and slow and cautious reset, hoping that will last although noone is really sure about it either.
    I hope this re-assures you. We have clients that have selected and decided on almost immediately that they wanted to work with a given candidate we presented and somehow when it comes to put that in written it takes longer. I even have a case where the candidate is asked to be in and start working before having even finished the „formal“ interview process with teh client, and in hope that we will find the right agreements in terms of pricings…
    Good luck with your new assignment!

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