The behavioural impacts of Just in Time (JIT) in the Interim & Gap Management market

The inspiration for today’s thought piece is a small and medium sized enterprise (SME) and now our new definition namely MELE (Medium Enterprise to Large Enterprise) decision making styles and abilities.

Our enquiry runs along the lines of discussions and conversations we have observed in the Interim and Gap Management market.

If decision-making and more importantly the ‘pre-engagement life-cycle’ time has shrunk, is that why some Interim and Gap Managers (I&G) are extremely busy and run off their feet and others not?

Is it a pure marketing and reputation effect the busy I&G Managers are facing versus the ones ‘on the bench’ or is it because SME, MELE and to some extent large corporate clients have delayed resourcing and strategic decisions to the extent of jeopardising the normal pre-engagement fact finding life-cycle?

Finally, if JIT and agile decision-making is here to stay, will the client community still allow the I&G Manager enough time to do the really value-added stuff, which is spend enough time understanding the culture, environment and agenda of the organisation in order to help shape the changed future state?

Was Kurt Lewin wrong with his Change Management Model of ‘Unfreeze – Change – Re-Freeze’ cycle that in an agile planning and development world, there is just no more time to ‘Re-Freeze’ the changed organisational state?

theMarketSoul ©2011

The economics of Gap (Interim) or Freelance Management

We thought it about time to write an opinion piece on the dynamics (economics) around the Interim Management market, delivered from a UK perspective.

This is a purely thought piece and opinion, not support by empirical research, but grounded in economic theory and an observation of the ‘state of the current market’.

The inspiration for this is an article we published last year entitled “Increased Friction Costs“. For background on the meaning and usage of Friction Costs, please refer to the definitions used in the original article.

Let’s face facts. Interim Management was borne out of the margins of Friction Costs. Filling the gap that naturally exists where ‘full employment’ is just never possible. Highly skilled and mobile individuals. However, this is also exactly where the rub sits. IM was borne on the ‘margins’ of the bell curve and not in the middle of that curve. Whether it is natural friction or crisis friction that drives it, the fundamental principle of IM is scarcity, flexibility and mobility. Items that typically cannot be addressed in rigid Labour Market framework and market conditions.

So what has changed?

Well, that scarcity has become mainstream. Evidence for this is the IIM survey results, listing at least 600 ‘claimed’ Interim Service Providers in the REC Directory. Or, maybe the definitions have become blurred. Plenty of anecdotal evidence for this exists on and in discussions in this forum.

Too many Interim Service Providers (ISPs) and too many would be Interim Managers (IMs) have flocked to the margins of the bell curve and confused the message, for both would be clients, ISPs and IM themselves.

Calls for the EIM (Executive Interim Management) label are attempts to create another differentiator. Accreditation itself is another differentiator and this is something the IIM supports and is seeking to grow, particularly with the Agency Workers Regulations in mind.

Basically, in order to add value, we need to realise that there is a ‘natural market’ for IMs, but at the moment that natural market is flooded with confused messages, symbols, participants, etc.

Any comments and opposing views are welcomed.

theMarketSoul ©1999 – 2011

The trouble with Innovation – Part 3

In this part of our discussion regarding Innovation, we want to turn the focus to the UK market place and some unsung heroes, some tirelessly working in the trenches, others ‘fishing in the ocean of opportunity’ at the moment, not being ‘on assignment’.

We are referring to Independent Consultants and Senior Interim Managers.  How exactly they fit into the innovation debate will hopefully become clearer very soon.

And the main issues and theme we need to explore is that of Trust.

Part of the challenge most Independent Consultants and Interim Managers find themselves facing is the fact that engaging assignments and workflows don’t always flow or fit together.  The challenge is that when on assignment, they are not feeding or seeding the pipeline enough for when the current assignment ends and when the assignment has ended, their next role or project might be weeks of months away from coming to fruition.

There is in effect no clear matching of supply and demand in the market place, as most assignments and engagements are won on relationships and not pure experience, skills and competencies.

That is particularly true if you ‘swim down the narrow channel’, by this we mean only follow one strategy in procuring your next assignment; which generally means you speak mostly to Executive Search or other Recruitment Consultancies.

It is in this area that we feel very little positive innovation and engagement has occurred over the last few years.

Now we acknowledge that the internet has potentially speeded up and shortened the entire recruitment cycle significantly, however, is this innovation or just advancement?

Our assertion is that the internet was pure advancement, not innovation in this sector.

It is furthermore our belief that most searches and matches occur on a pure issue of timing and serendipity alone.  There is no effective clearing house to match skills to needs in a way that clears the market effectively and efficiently.  For this we evidence a report commission by ExecutivesOnline in September 2009 (see ExecutivesOnline Interim Management Trend Update) in which it was found that 48% of Interim Managers where ‘Not on Assignment’ as of September 2009, the euphemistic phrase for being out of work.  If there were such a ‘clearing house’ the unemployment rate amongst Interim Managers and Independent Consultants would have been  markedly lower, but probably higher than the national Unemployment rate, due to a variety of other  socio-economic factors, including luxury factors such as choice, to mention but one.

Sustainability and risk management and more specifically innovation in these two critical business management areas are what we desperately lack at this key juncture in our economic cycle.  We will address these two themes in further in future articles.

To conclude our assertions made in part 3 of our exploration on the trouble with innovation is that now there should be an opportunity created to more effectively match supply and demand in the labour market.  However, there is a fundamental disconnect between public sector and private sector and permanent and temporary work.  This statement is a blatant generalisation, however public sector and permanent employment does not conform to pure market driven principles, where tenure is protected, to some extent, from external market forces.  On the contrary many an independent consultant has had to contend with the shock of a new equilibrium and have realised that to ‘stay in the game’ they have had to adjust their prices downward, sliding back down the supply curve, in order to try and find the intersection with the demand curve.  An oversupply of consulting and interim management talent has ensured that the market clearing price for services have been adjusted markedly lower, than was the case before the credit quake of 2008 – 2009.

So what we are looking for is innovative new business models that will ensure the exploration of a new and sustained equilibrium and market for talent and talent matching in the future.

theMarketSoul ©2010