Board Options, Inc.


Winning the war for talent is critical, but increasingly difficult, given the booming overall economy and unprecedented demand for senior executives from e-commerce and high-tech companies. In addition, the rapid evolution of business today penalizes companies willing to accept extended recruiting cycle times that have traditionally been the norm. New sources of rapidly available, seasoned executive talent are needed, as "human capital" becomes the driving force behind business growth.

Companies undergoing transition face many issues that are within the purview of Boards. Alternative means of accessing executive talent are increasing and the process for selecting among them is all too often ill defined. By asking the following questions, Boards can help assure themselves that operating management is aware of various alternatives and, that the course chosen is appropriate.

Does the company have available expertise in-house to address specific Board level change management issues? If not, what factors should be considered in addressing the need for outside change management expertise?

"Change jobs" are usually very different from "steady state" jobs. It is often a mistake to hire one person to do both. Better to place a seasoned executive in the change management role who has deep expertise and can 'overkill' the situation, while seeking a permanent hire to fill the position when the situation has been stabilized. In addition, many jobs are not 'permanent' and in fact may disappear at the conclusion of the assignment (e.g. close the plant, sell the division, or fill the position until a retained search can be completed and then hand-off to the permanent person and transition out).

If outside assistance is needed, what alternatives should operating management consider prior to making a decision?

Rationale Supporting Use of Interim Executives
One of the greatest challenges facing companies is being able to manage change and business transitions quickly and effectively. As companies shrink to their core competencies and their organizations flatten out, they frequently lack the management depth needed to address urgent issues that require immediate attention. As a result, they are adopting more flexible staffing approaches including: temps, outsourcing, employee leasing, consulting services and interim management to get things done.

Interim management provides significant advantages to companies working in rapid change environments:

When is an Interim Solution Appropriate?
There are many situations where use of an objective, experienced interim executive makes sense.

Questions Operating Management Should Ask Potential Service Providers

What Characteristics Do Interim Executives Exhibit?
Interim executives have relevant line-management experience and are available to focus full time on a company's project for its duration. They differ from management consultants in that they assume executive responsibility to act on the client's behalf. They are brought into a company for a limited time with a clear mandate. They have managed similar challenges before and can help clients avoid an expensive learning curve or lost opportunities due to lack of expertise to manage an opportunity or solve a problem that the business faces. Interim executives have the following characteristics:

Dennis W. Powers is Managing Director of Executive Interim Management in New York. Mr. Powers has had extensive experience as a senior operating line manager and management consultant in restructuring organizations to improve operating performance. In his current role as Managing Director of EIM-New York, Mr. Powers, working closely with members of EIM's team of Interim Executives, enables clients to accelerate change while managing risk. EIM is currently running more than 200 companies worldwide with interim executives and has completed more than 2500 assignments over its 20-year history. Its unique approach provides a new management tool for CEOs that promises to change longstanding paradigms about how best to leverage scarce resources during periods of critical change and transition. Dennis can be contacted at 212-751-4777 or via e-mail

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