Avram Miller, a well regarded Silicon Valley luminary, has recently published a memoir which chronicles his journey in the world of technology. It is called, The Flight of a Wild Duck, which is how Intel’s CEO, Andy Grove referred to him because Miller would always chart his own course. This included founding Intel Capital, which became the most successful corporate venture group, and playing a leading role in the creation of residential broadband. The book is full of interesting stories of key figures in the tech world and well as important lessons.
“There were a number of reasons why I wrote this book. I was in the room when many important things were decided and I had a lot of stories. But I also felt that my life story might be an inspiration. Having worked as a merchant seaman, and without any university background, I ended up as an Associate Professor in Medicine at the age of 29. Having transitioned to work in the computer industry, I was responsible for a large engineering group at Digital Equipment Corporation and then later joined Intel where I was one of 28 corporate officers. My book explains the role that risk taking, creativity and institution played in my success. I hope my book will encourage others to break from more traditional approaches.”
Running a family business is no walk in the park. The family dinners or holiday gatherings could be mistaken for board room meetings, with topics of conversation jumping between family matters and minute business topics. Discussions get further complicated when it comes time for a transition of ownership as the first generation of family businesses starts to look towards retirement and relinquishing control of day-to-day activities. Who will step in to lead the company? A number of succession issues arise ranging from siblings quarreling about how to divide up the business and inheritance to instability within the organization as employees wonder what their future holds. Yet, so many family owned businesses don’t have a solid plan.
Problems in Succession Planning in Family Business
When you start to peel back the layers, the emotions and history of a family are always at the center. Ed Pendergast, a board executive who has sat on eight family boards and advised many more family businesses, often sees one or more family members feel that they are not being treated fairly by other family members. Whether it’s viewed as a grudge or just selective memory, these power dynamics among the next generation in line can cause headaches for the business.
But surprisingly, Pendergast doesn’t view the second generation as the biggest challenge: “It’s actually the third generation with the hardest road ahead,” he says. “The first generation runs the business and passes it on to the second generation. And then by the time the second is trying to figure out who to pass it on to, family member A has three kids, family member B has two, and family member C has none. Who’s going to be in the business? It becomes much more complex the more people are involved.”
The numbers show just how difficult this transition is. Approximately 12% of family-owned businesses are passed down successfully to a third generation and only 3% to a fourth or beyond.
So how can families avoid the common pitfalls in succession planning, and instead focus on best practices?
Company owners and investors call us wanting to brainstorm about the type of leaders they need, which is great – right up our alley.
Why do companies call us saying they need an interim executive? A top interim put it this way: companies show up because something is going really, really right. Or: something has gone really, really wrong.
Fitting into one of those categories is just the start of the conversation. We also must determine if an organization is the right fit to work with InterimExecs RED Team.
We have invested 12 years and thousands of man-hours screening, ranking, and choosing the most talented CEOs, CFOs, COOs, and other executives across the C-suite to form the RED Team. That work continues every day, curating leadership talent. These relationships are dear to us, so just as we screen executives, it’s important that we also screen companies that want to land a great executive.
Would your organization be a good fit for us and the RED Team? We have listed the top three factors we seek in both executives and companies we choose to match for talent. Let’s explore this together and see how we match up in our values and goals:
It took just one leaked password to breach Colonial Pipeline in the May 2021 cyberattack. A few months earlier, in March, more than 30,000 U.S. organizations were hit by hackers who used Microsoft Exchange to gain access to email accounts. In June a cyberattack took down the IT systems at JBS meat processing plant, resulting in the temporary closure of all nine of its U.S. locations.
These headlines are just a fraction of the recent cyberattacks on companies. And experts say we’re in for a long, vulnerable ride. According to Cybercrime Magazine, ransomware attacks against businesses will occur every 11 seconds this year and cause $6 trillion in damages. By 2025, the grand total is expected to hit $10.5 trillion annually. That’s why it’s not enough to build a response-to-recovery playbook. Organizations have to have thorough, vise-like cyberattack prevention measures in place to ensure it’s (mostly) business as usual.
“Incident and crisis management are the key pieces—business continuity is the umbrella,” InterimExecs RED Team executive and CISO, Zeeshan Kazmi says. “But who’s taking care of all the other stuff? Recovery without formal plans can’t blunt the impact. But with a plan, you face an initial crisis and recover from it. And then pretty quickly, you’ll come back.”
Here he breaks down the background on ransomware, the impact of cyberattacks, how to protect your company, and a step-by-step guide if—gulp—you’ve been hit.
Low price is the last refuge for marketers who don’t have the patience or guts to demonstrate value for those that need it. – Seth Godin
When it comes to buying gas for your car, fertilizer for your lawn, or for that matter the price Apple pays for the copper in your iPhone, lowest price makes sense. These are the classic definition of the word commodity – something which comes from the ground and whose price rises and falls with supply and demand.
Unfortunately, we all now use the word commodity to mean much more, applying the sense of generic-ness to just about every product and service available to us. If you are marketing soap, for example, you face over 1,000 competitors on Amazon. If however you’re the marketer behind Tesla or NetJets or the Chicago Bears football team, your job is simpler. You won’t sell as much, but your product is so highly differentiated that when your customer wants you, there’s no close substitute. You are not a commodity. You are unique.
InterimExecs RED Team of top interim and part-time executives around the globe range in specialties from CEO to COO, CIO, CFO, CMO, and CSO. But, title is not the main focus. Interim executives are often project-based resources that can be pulled in alongside the current management team to carry out big projects, mentor someone internally, or assess how your business is doing and create a roadmap for the future.
If you meet the following criteria, we can probably help:
No matter the industry, size, or scope, every business has to be wary of the f-word: fraud. We know virtually any department from marketing to HR is vulnerable, and the extra scrutiny typically targets finance and accounting — think embezzlement, payroll fraud, or fictitious revenue. But with the exponential growth of IT budgets‚ this unassuming area has become ripe for liabilities.
A top interim CIO from InterimExecs RED Team who has led complex IT turnarounds for Fortune 500 companies shares the warning signs of IT fraud and how to mitigate the risks.
The financial services sector has undergone significant changes in recent years.
Banks used to look at technology with hostility. According to fintech and payments expert, Peter Tapling, “five years ago, if we were to have this conversation, I would have told you that the banks look at fintech as a very much us versus them – whatever they do is stuff that we could do.”
They saw fintech companies as competitors who could take business away from them. These days however, today’s financial institutions are now eager to embrace fintech. Tapling, who spent 15 years as CEO of authentication provider, Authentify, before advising a range of financial services companies, says that the industry is “shifting a lot” and integral to this mindset move is that financial institutions are ready to partner with fintech companies so they can offer new services and penetrate new markets.
Looking at the rationale behind this, Tapling talks about the difficulty around large organizations building brand new bank initiatives. To that end he mentions, “if you look at the way we do development these days, fail fast, build something small, minimum viable product, that’s not the way a big bank works.” Instead, banks look to partnerships to fill in that gap.
Even before the pandemic forced businesses to be more nimble and forward-thinking than ever before, the need for interim executives had been growing. In 2020, we asked 600+ execs to shed light on interim roles, a comprehensive survey that covered the who, what and why behind the growth of this category. And now as the world is finally defeating COVID-19, businesses are continuing to adapt and re-strategize with a new set of challenges, only amplifying the need for experienced, “make it happen” interim executives even more.
To better understand how the current marketplace is dictating the need, we conducted a follow-up survey, asking 125 executives to answer the same question: “What trends do you anticipate having the greatest effect on the interim specialty in the year ahead?”
Across both surveys, the conclusion was clear: interim executives are needed now more than ever. 71% of respondents see opportunities for interim management trending up and another 21% seeing they will remain stable throughout the coming year. Here, we break down the five reasons why more organizations are drawing on interim executive leadership:
When smart owners hire managers with the intent of working together for a long time, it’s easy to call their relationship – if it works – a partnership. It’s not a partnership in the legal sense and it’s not a partnership in the investment sense, where partners share costs and gains. But in great working relationships between employer and employee, each looks out for the other. Each invests to build and maintain a good relationship and share the gains of working well together and advancing the mission and economic and social health of the organization.
The problem with rampant outsourcing is that it leads to thinking on the part of employers and contractors that relationships are reduced to a transaction. Pay me x and I’ll perform as ordered. Stop paying me and I’m gone. The logic is the same whether it’s one contractor or ten thousand. While it is transactional in the letter of the contract, it is not in the spirit of one. The danger of a purely transactional mindset is that loyalty goes out the window. Loyalty from a boss to an employee and loyalty from an employee or manager to the organization. In organizations with a strongly transactional bent you can bet that any corporate talk about integrity is a watered-down concept at best.
First-year Change Agent members have access to the Interim Institute’s 4 hour audio program on the Fundamentals of Interim Management, and a one-hour strategy session to help jumpstart their interim career.
*$200 additional charge for Accelerator Program only applies for first-year members. After the first year, membership renews at $485/year.