Why Executive Interims have a positive outlook despite uncertain times

Every year we undertake a major international survey across our international network of executive interims. We explore the trends in the market and how interims are feeling.

One of the most anticipated results this year was the current level of optimism in the interim community. Last year this was strong, with two thirds of respondents (66%) saying that they had a positive outlook for the year ahead.

Challenging times

Today, the Eurozone, UK, Japan and China are all experiencing a weakening in their economies[1] and Europe continues to battle against the prolonged uncertainty of Brexit. One might expect, then, that interims today are feeling less bullish about the future.

Yet the survey found only a small drop in interim confidence. A total of 59% of the community feel positive about the months to come. A further 32% say that they have a ‘neutral’ mindset and just 8% feel negative about their prospects.

Interims and uncertainty

This is fascinating. On paper, the working life of an interim is somewhat unpredictable. They have to rely on securing contracts to ensure their income, and these contracts might only last a matter of months. And yet interims seem unphased by the current business climate where there is much uncertainty about the challenges ahead.

The reason for this confidence is that uncertainty often works in interims’ favour. Brexit was mentioned in many of the respondents’ comments and is a great example in itself of how uncertainty can benefit an interim. Once the UK and Europe finally understand what form Brexit will take, there will be a lot for businesses to do in adapting to the new landscape.

Managing change

Adapting means change, and most of our interims are highly experienced in change and transformation management and in developing new projects and programmes to align and differentiate businesses in any market situation.

Business uncertainty often requires dedicated resource and niche experience – something that is many organisations will lack. By appointing an interim that gap is rapidly plugged, driving tangible actions immediately.

Other interim trends

The survey also identified a significant trend in the interim space – the growth of digital transformation. Last year just 4% of interims had been involved in a digital change programme. This year that number has shot up to 28%.

It’s clear that organisations of all sizes and in every sector are racing to modernise and take advantage of digital technology. The survey indicates that the main objectives behind digital transformation are to drive operational effectiveness and to launch new products and services.

Again, such major change requires dedicated and experienced leaders. Our interims are brought in at all levels to support digital transformation – from strategic development and programme management through to specialist expertise and professional support.

Even organisations that are beginning to suffer at the hands of economic downturn often call on interims to help them rationalise their business, cut costs and dispose of underperforming assets.

In short, for interims the future is ever bright, in good times and in bad.

[1] https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/01/what-to-expect-for-the-global-economy-in-2019/

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