Consulting Battle: Men in Black Versus Interim Managers

2 min read –

What is the difference between traditional Consultants and Interim Managers?

Everybody who has worked in a big corporation has already seen Consultants.

They are usually the “Men in Black”, serious looking, impeccably dressed, mysterious, impressive.

My first close encounter with them was in 2012, in France, when our CEO brought them in for an internal project.

So when we spotted them around we would gossip about the “Men in Black”, a playful comparison to the characters from the movie.

I admit I mock them a bit by comparing them to Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones.

Because their work is advisory only: they audit and give advice.

Consultants are not involved in operations and are not accountable for results.

Still, they bring value to firms due to :

– their strong credentials
– their rich experience
– their strategic thinking
– a bonus: they can be a scapegoat or a human shield for top management manoeuvrers.

The limitation is that they don’t put their hands inside the operational machinery. That is where Interim Managers enter.

They have the skills of Consultants but with an added operational edge.

Interim Managers don’t make PowerPoint, they are hands-on and delve into the nitty-gritty.

They usually take a C-suite role, CFO (26%), COO (16%), HR (15%), CEO (10%), IT (7%), etc.*

While not on the company’s payroll, they immerse themselves in day-to-day operations.

They don’t covet the job of somebody, they are not hindered by internal politics. They are usually overqualified for the job and deserve to be called Super Managers rather than Interim Managers. They have 3 main missions, as follows, in order of increasing value :

INTERIM (30%)*
Fill a sudden unexpected and critical vacancy in the top management team.

– Lead a strategic project, within a pre-agreed scope and timeframe. (30%)
– Drive a company transformation plan, change the business model, restructure the organization. (25%)

Manage a crisis and steer the company through a turnaround.

In a rapidly evolving world influenced by factors such as inflation, remote work, and artificial intelligence, change management is critical. In Europe, Interim Management is a widespread practice with many specialized recruitment agencies that identify and select Interim Managers. See examples in comments.

If you have a subsidiary in Southeast Asia and might need an Interim Manager, then … you are in luck…

Because we, at CINTASIA can provide you with a qualified and certified one (IFMT, 2022) to navigate your organizational challenges.

Contact us at bonjour@cintasia.com to learn more about Interim Management and its potential support to you in the ASEAN region.

PS: Who is your favorite hero? Men in Black or Super Managers? Tell us in comment!

*Source of % data: Wayden.