It seems like every business owner dreams of achieving major traction in the marketplace. That fast track growth, however, often comes at a cost. Things get taped together. There’s no process to speak of. Systems? Ha. Things go missing, including clients and team members. Lack of resources means that even the crown jewel, the company’s ability to out-innovate, may be put on hold just to keep up.
When a company grows faster than the capabilities of the leadership team, the end result is often a splat: the company hits the wall.
Smart fast-growing companies have started looking to part-time or fractional executives to provide c-suite leadership, mentorship, and the operational upgrades needed to help a company break through the ceiling to growth.
Fractional executives bring the fresh perspective of experienced c-level executives quickly and affordably. With a focus on getting results, companies find that renting the rock star exec outweighs getting 100 percent of the time of a lesser light.
Operational efficiency is the key to successful companies, the wish of all companies, and the bane of far too many. Successful COOs have found ways to develop processes that root out inefficiencies, improve productivity, and increase profit margins.
Here, two expert COOs share what they have learned from repeated successes at mega-million-dollar corporations.
Steve Raack, a COO who has led consumer goods giants, including Beautycounter and Herbalife; and Mike Bartikoski, a manufacturing and supply chain expert who has run operations for Hershey and Pepsico among others, shared their insights during a wide-ranging webinar and Q&A moderated by InterimExecs CEO Robert Jordan. You can access the full webinar on-demand.
As we reflect on the past year, we are grateful to the incredible executives that make up InterimExecs RED Team, as well as our clients who have put their faith in us and the leaders we deploy. We’ve jumped into companies from fintech to healthcare to manufacturing. Some struggling with declining revenue, lack of systems and process, or high turnover. Others experiencing big growth — maybe even spurred on by the last two years in a pandemic and changes to consumer behavior.
It’s a common scenario: A company spends the money to delve into a massive ERP implementation only to get stalled, Or worse, flounder and fall flat (and lose big bucks in the process).
Maybe it’s the lack of planning or software curation. Maybe it’s not thinking ahead for future needs. It might also boil down to not having the right talent to make that integration sing.
For all that goes into ERP implementation — ERP, or Enterprise Resource Planning, is, after all, managing, streamlining and tying together all the most essential parts of a business — strategizing every step should be a nonnegotiable.
“ERP systems usually get replaced every seven to 10 years. I’ve been with some companies where they hadn’t replaced them for 25 years,” says Bruce Howard, an InterimExecs RED Team member and Interim CIO who has spent much of his career implementing ERP systems.
“There’s a planning phase to bring all of the pieces together and make sure you’ve got a clear approach and clear people assigned. And then you need a methodology for the way you select systems and implement.”
To better understand the components of a successful ERP implementation and strategy, how an ERP can support business operations and better decision making, and how bringing in a veteran can elevate the process, we asked Howard along with interim executives Tony DeLima and Alonso Vargas to walk us through the essential elements.
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 family business succession issues arise, 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 succession plan.
When you 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.
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.
Growth strategies are one of the three topics that are top of mind for US CEOs in 2021, according to a study by PwC. Yet 86 percent of CEOs will fail at creating sustained growth, according to Bain & Company.
Should you call in an interim chief innovation and growth officer (CInO)?
Private equity funds are entering a new phase that requires new tactics to be successful against many alternative sources of funds. With a vast reservoir of dry powder – $1.5 trillion waiting to be deployed – PE funds seeking the whip hand will build and pivot while the economy is reinventing and reviving in 2021 and 2022. But what worked in the past won’t work in the future. Moving forward, adding value will require more attention to management fit for the purpose of rapidly transforming portfolio companies.
“Every good private equity professional will tell you that the most important factor behind a successful investment is the management team,” said Eric Jones, a partner and member of the corporate and private equity groups at Detroit law firm Honigman LLP. Jones was a speaker at the University of Michigan Private Equity Conference held virtually in September 2020 and attended by InterimExecs. “You can have even market share, but without a very strong management team, it’s not going to be sustained. The business isn’t going to grow and the investment piece isn’t going to be realized,” he said.
The only certainty in business is change. But change is accelerating, less predictable, and increasingly, beyond the control of organizations. As technology and unforeseen events continue to drive exponential change, businesses that can’t keep up risk being left behind.
Companies struggling to generate growth and stay relevant amid rapid transformation often look to new leadership. A growing number of companies are also looking to a different kind of leader—one who specializes in change and embraces the challenge of helping companies solve their biggest issues. Enter the interim executive, a new breed of on-demand leadership that brings outside perspective, cutting-edge thinking, veteran experience, and a laser focus on results.
Uncertainty is growing in the US with coronavirus cases
mounting. California, Illinois, Michigan, and other states have taken serious
actions with shelter-in-place orders, leaving many people wondering how this
will impact them personally as well as their companies and the economy as a
At the same time, we’re reflecting on how much there is to
be grateful for, including the strong relationships we’ve built over 10+ years
with inspiring leaders. These are women and men who focus their careers on running
into the burning building – the company in trouble – learning fast,
listening, assembling resources, providing fresh and objective insights,
developing new plans and actions for survival and ultimately blueprints for a
We recently convened a call with some RED Team execs who shared how they are adapting to new ways to work. Many executives shared experiences on the front lines figuring out how to help combat the virus and also help people work smarter and safer:
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.