Interims Don’t Do Gloss

30 days to get the picture. Most of my interim management assignments, running a project or a company are “start and do”. Occasionally it’s different. “We need to understand the industrial landscape in Brazil for the marine defence and offshore sectors”, my client said – for whom I had previously undertaken more conventional interim management assignments. “And ah…. there will be a board review in 60 days, you will know what to do”.

The internet is the place to collect information but it has its limits – there is no substitute. You have to be there to understand. But it’s a good place to book flights, find hotels, be clear how a place works before I get there – somebody is paying for my time, use it wisely. Interim executives are not consultants but they are inveterate problem solvers, bringing order out of chaos, taking things from A to B. 30 days to get the picture in country, 30 days to create a reality.

Brazil is changing, and like so many countries there is a huge disconnection between its recent past and today. It affects everything, the industrial structure, the profile of expertise, the way people think, the governance. Meetings took place, with engineers, with bankers, with entrepreneurs, captains and admirals of the navy, oil and gas developers, potential partners, customers and competitors. Always checking, is this really how it is, and does this represent the future? Then in the night and early morning brain dumping and consolidating, making sense, finding the gaps. Important to get it right, interim executives do not do gloss.

The report. Yes – the pages of visit notes and the report, but not the value. The 60 days became 45 days then less. The real value: a highly focussed 2 hours sitting in a room the client. “This is how it is and why it is, this is what’s in it for us”. No Power Point, just a set of notes, some blank sheets of A4 and a pencil. The report came later.

On my last morning in Rio I took half a day as a tourist. Christ the Redeemer is as people say. You have to be there to understand.

Andrew Sharratt is an experienced Interim Executive

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