What is Interim Management?
A few words for those who do not know the business of Interim Management. It is an activity consisting in integrating experienced managers into organisations for a period of a few months to approximately 2 years, to lead a major transformation, lead a strategic project, support a manager in difficulty or replace one urgently. All managerial positions can be the subject of interim management assignments, the most concerned are those of managing director, finance manager, human relations manager and those of operational positions.
What is Impact Interim Management?
Isn’t Interim Management by definition impactful? Yes, of course, but here the notion of impact is the same as that given for impact investing or impact companies. I therefore propose the following definition.
Impact Interim Management (IIM) is based on the notion of Overall Performance of an organisation, integrating economic, social and environmental performance. An IIM assignment is therefore defined as a temporary management job incorporating a significant improvement in either social, societal or environmental terms, or on 2 or 3 of these dimensions. Improvement should not come at the expense of one of the 4 pillars of Overall Performance.
Is Impact Interim Management relevant?
My promotion of IIM to Interim Management professionals and my practice of IIM as part of my interim manager assignments for 13 years suggest that the answer is no, it would not be relevant! Indeed, apart from a few rare assignments for experts in ISO 14000 or 26000, the concepts of Overall Performance, Sustainable Development or CSR appear very rarely in the specifications of the assignments. And asserting its commitment in this area can leave the impression of a lack of commitment in the economic dimension, the priority of almost all assignments. Thirteen years ago I heard expressions like “we don’t want a green manager”, nowadays I still hear reactions like “your image as an operational manager will suffer from this positioning”.
And yet the latest dramatic scientific data on climate change, the fall in biodiversity and various pollutions; our experiences of record heat and drought and the disappearance of birds and insects; the progress of ecological political parties; the European Union’s Green Deal; the rise of impact investing… all these phenomena upsetting society can only soon prevail in the definitions of most interim management assignments.
So fundamentally the IIM is relevant but, promoting it is still avant-garde to this day and requires caution in formulating its presentation and motivations. It should soon become obvious and it risks falling victim to usurpation or becoming fashionable which would distort its true meaning. Ultimately, it will therefore only be able to keep its relevance if it is based on the measurement of its impacts within the framework of a standard, such as ISO 26000 or the SDGs (the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals) for instance.
Examples of Impact Interim Management assignments
- Assignment including in its definition an objective and an assessment of progress in terms of …
- … personnel safety
- … management of psychosocial risks
- … quality of life at work
- … environmental impacts
- … CSR approach, ISO 14000, ISO 26000 or other standards.
- (some of these points seem obvious, but I don’t remember having read them in any of the assignment definitions I accessed).
- Turnaround of a company integrating Overall Performance goals (not just economic)
- Improvement of Overall Performances (not just operational)
- Project management with Overall Performance goals
- Leading a business transfer, integrating the revitalization of the place relieved of its activity
- Definitive shutdown of an industrial site (provided that this has an indisputable economic or other meaning) integrating Overall Performance objectives
- Development of a non-harmful activity for society, by integrating an approach such as eco-design or circular economy or carbon footprint
- And finally, the ideal IIM assignment in my eyes: definition with the parties concerned of the “raison d’être” and the culture of the entity concerned, then transformation of its organisation and its processes in order to align them with this ” raison d’être “.
A Impact Interim Management assignment does not have “to change the world”. It can be an ordinary mission, simply integrating a priority such as “staff safety” and without negative impact on other dimensions of Overall Performance. Finally, an assignment with a purely economic objective can become an Impact assignment, thanks to the circumstances and / or the opportunism of the interim manager, allowing a social or environmental impact to be added during the assignment.
A rapid development of Impact Interim Management or something equivalent would be a sign that the business world has aligned itself with the social and environmental challenges facing our society.