Unlocking The Secrets Of Strategic Organisational Design For Business Leaders

Org design is super important for business leaders if you want your company to do well, in this article we talk about unlocking the secrets of strategic org design and share them with you. It’s all about making sure your structure, processes, systems, and culture all work together to help you achieve your goals.

Nowadays, companies that innovate do well, and businesses need to be able to keep up.

To do that, you need to have a good plan for your organisational design that fits with what you’re trying to do and what the competition is up to.

By learning about the best ways to design your organisation, you can make smart choices that will help you succeed and make everyone happy.

In this piece, we’ll talk about the most important things you need to know to design your organisation well, and give you loads of tips and ideas to help you get it right.

If you’re a CEO, HR person, or consultant, or someone looking to develop in the Org Design space this should be for you!

What is Organisational Design

Organisational design refers to the process of structuring an organisation’s systems, processes, roles, and responsibilities to achieve its goals and objectives effectively. It involves analysing an organisation’s current structure, identifying any gaps or inefficiencies, and developing a new structure or plan to optimise performance.

Organisational design typically includes determining the organisation’s hierarchy, identifying reporting relationships, defining roles and responsibilities, establishing communication and decision-making processes, and aligning resources and systems to support the organisation’s objectives. The goal is to create a structure that supports the organisation’s strategy and enables it to achieve its goals efficiently and effectively. Organisational design is often an iterative process that involves ongoing evaluation and adjustment to ensure that the organisation remains aligned with its objectives and adapts to changes in the environment.

How is org design related to organisational development?

Organisational design and organisational development are closely related concepts, as both aim to improve the performance of an organisation. However, they differ in their approach and focus.

Organisational design focuses on the structural aspects of an organisation, such as its hierarchy, roles, and reporting relationships. Its goal is to create a structure that supports the organisation’s strategy and enables it to achieve its objectives efficiently and effectively.

On the other hand, organisational development (OD) focuses on the people and culture of an organisation. OD aims to improve the effectiveness of the organisation by enhancing its culture, leadership, communication, and collaboration. It involves interventions that target the human side of the organisation to improve performance.

Organisational design and organisational development often go hand-in-hand. For example, if an organisation is implementing a new strategy, it may need to restructure its hierarchy and roles to align with the new direction.

At the same time, it may also need to work on improving its culture and leadership to ensure that the new structure is effective. Therefore, organisational design and organisational development are often used together to create a holistic approach to improving an organisation’s performance.

How can org design fit in to an overall hr transformation programme?

Organisational design can play a crucial role in an overall HR transformation program. HR transformation typically involves changing the way an organisation manages its human resources to improve its performance and create value.

Organisational design is an essential component of this process, as it can help align the organisation’s structure, roles, and processes with its HR strategy.

Here are some ways that organisational design can fit into an overall HR transformation program:

  • Aligning structure with strategy: Organisational design can help align the structure of the organisation with its HR strategy. For example, if the organisation’s strategy is to focus on innovation, the structure should be designed to facilitate collaboration and knowledge sharing.
  • Streamlining processes: Organisational design can help streamline HR processes, such as recruitment, performance management, and talent development. By designing efficient processes that eliminate redundancies and improve communication, HR can be more effective in achieving its objectives.
  • Redefining roles and responsibilities: Organisational design can help redefine roles and responsibilities to align with the organisation’s HR strategy. This can include creating new roles, eliminating redundant roles, or merging roles to create more efficient and effective HR functions.
  • Implementing new HR technologies: Organisational design can also help facilitate the implementation of new HR technologies, such as HR information systems, talent management software, and e-learning platforms. By designing a structure that supports the use of these technologies, HR can more effectively leverage them to achieve its objectives.

Here are some of the challenges organisations face with regards to poor organisational design:

  1. Overlapping roles and responsibilities: When there are multiple individuals or departments responsible for the same function or task, it can lead to confusion, duplication of efforts, and inefficiencies.
  2. Hierarchies that are too complex: When an organisation has too many layers of management or too many reporting lines, decision-making can become slow and bureaucratic. This can lead to delays, missed opportunities, and a lack of agility.
  3. Siloed departments: When departments or teams work in isolation, it can result in poor communication, lack of collaboration, and a lack of knowledge-sharing. This can lead to missed opportunities and hinder innovation.
  4. Lack of alignment with strategy: When an organisation’s structure, roles, and processes are not aligned with its strategic objectives, it can lead to confusion and a lack of focus. This can make it difficult to achieve the organisation’s goals and objectives.
  5. Inefficient workflows: When workflows are poorly designed or not optimised, it can lead to bottlenecks, delays, and missed deadlines. This can negatively impact the organisation’s performance and lead to frustration among employees.
  6. Poor communication: When communication channels are unclear or ineffective, it can lead to misunderstandings, missed deadlines, and a lack of coordination. This can negatively impact productivity and the quality of work.

Which companies have suffered from poor strategic org design?

  1. Enron: Enron was an energy company that collapsed in 2001 due to a range of factors, including poor organisational design. The company had a complex structure with multiple subsidiaries, which made it difficult to understand the company’s finances. Additionally, the company had a culture of excessive risk-taking and unethical behaviour, which ultimately led to its downfall.
  2. Blockbuster: Blockbuster was a video rental company that was once a dominant player in the industry. However, the company failed to adapt to changing consumer behaviour, such as the rise of streaming services like Netflix. Blockbuster’s organisational design was slow to respond to changes in the industry, which ultimately led to its decline.
  3. Kodak: Kodak was a leader in the photography industry for many years, but the company struggled to adapt to the rise of digital photography. Kodak’s organisational design was slow to respond to changes in the industry, which ultimately led to its decline.

How can a company think strategically about org design?

The first step is to define the company’s strategy, which should include the mission, vision, values, and goals. As well as the competitive landscape and market trends.

The strategy should be communicated throughout the organisation, so that everyone understands the direction in which the company is headed.

To think strategically about organisational design, a company can take the following steps:

  1. Analyse the current organisational structure: The next step is to analyse the company’s current organisational structure, including roles and responsibilities, reporting lines, and decision-making processes. This analysis can help identify areas of inefficiency, duplication of effort, or misalignment with the business strategy.
  2. Define the desired outcomes: Based on the analysis, the company can define the desired outcomes of the organisational design process. This includes identifying the key objectives, such as improving efficiency, increasing agility, or enhancing collaboration.
  3. Develop a plan: With the desired outcomes in mind, the company can develop a plan for the organisational design process. This includes defining the new structure, roles, and responsibilities, as well as the process for implementing the changes.
  4. Communicate the changes: It is important to communicate the changes to all stakeholders, including employees, customers, and partners. This can help ensure that everyone understands the rationale for the changes and is aligned with the new organisational structure.
  5. Monitor and adjust: Finally, the company should monitor the effectiveness of the new organisational design and make adjustments as needed. This includes tracking key performance metrics, soliciting feedback from employees and customers, and making changes to the structure or processes as needed.

How can I develop my career in to specialising in org design?

Developing a career in organisational design can be a rewarding and challenging path. Here are some steps you can take to specialise in organisational design:

  1. Gain education and training: Pursuing a degree in organisational design, organisational development, or a related field can provide you with a solid foundation of knowledge and skills.
  2. Get hands-on experience: Seek out opportunities to gain practical experience in organisational design. This can include internships, volunteer work, or positions in HR, consulting, or related fields.
  3. Build a network: Networking is an essential component of any career. Attend industry events, join professional organisations, and connect with experts in the field to build relationships and gain insights.
  4. Develop key skills: Successful organisational designers typically have a combination of skills, including strategic thinking, problem-solving, communication, and project management. Continuously developing and honing these skills can help you succeed in this field.
  5. Stay up-to-date: Organisational design is a constantly evolving field, and it is essential to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and best practices. Read industry publications, attend conferences and webinars, and participate in professional development opportunities.
  6. Consider certification: Earning a certification in organisational design or a related field can demonstrate your expertise and commitment to the profession. Examples include the Diploma in Organisational Development and the business schools such as Henley and Roffey Park both offer specific Org Design certifications.

What is the potential career path as an organisation design professional?

  • Entry-level positions: Entry-level positions in organisational design may include roles such as organisational development coordinator or analyst. These positions typically involve supporting more senior team members in conducting research, analysing data, and developing recommendations for organisational design changes.
  • Mid-level positions: Mid-level positions in organisational design may include roles such as organisational design manager or consultant. These positions typically involve leading projects to develop and implement new organisational structures, processes, and systems. Mid-level professionals may also be responsible for managing project teams and collaborating with other departments and stakeholders.
  • Senior-level positions: Senior-level positions in organisational design may include roles such as chief organisational design officer or executive director of organisational effectiveness. These positions typically involve leading the design and implementation of organisational strategies, and providing guidance and support to other departments and leaders. Senior-level professionals may also be responsible for developing and managing budgets, overseeing multiple projects, and providing strategic advice to the executive team.
  • Independent consultant: Experienced organisational design professionals may choose to work as independent consultants. This may involve working with multiple clients, developing customised solutions to meet their needs, and managing their own business operations.

Which consulting firms provide organisation design services?

  • McKinsey & Company: McKinsey & Company is a global management consulting firm that offers organisational design services as part of its organisational and business model transformation practice.
  • Bain & Company: Bain & Company is a global management consulting firm that offers organisational design services as part of its organisation practice.
  • Boston Consulting Group (BCG): BCG is a global management consulting firm that offers organisational design services as part of its organisational transformation practice.
  • Deloitte: Deloitte is a global consulting firm that offers organisational design services as part of its human capital practice.
  • Korn Ferry: Korn Ferry is a global organisational consulting firm that offers organisational design services as part of its organisational strategy practice.
  • PwC: PwC is a global professional services firm that offers organisational design services as part of its organisational effectiveness practice.
  • Accenture: Accenture is a global consulting firm that offers organisational design services as part of its organisation and talent practice.

There are also many smaller specialist boutique consultancies based in the UK that offer organisational design services. Some examples include:

  • Q5 is an organisational design consultancy. It is a global management consulting firm that specialises in organisational strategy, design, and transformation.
  • LACE Partners: LACE Partners was founded by Aaron Alburey and Cathy Acratopulo, who wanted to create a business that could provide a full-service consultancy for HR professionals.  
  • On the Mark: OTM is a leader in collaborative organisation design and operating model modernisations.
  • Chaucer: Chaucer is a London-based consultancy that specialises in organisational design, change management, and program management.

Here are some top tips to effectively land an organisational design project:

  • Understand the client’s needs: Before pitching an org design project, it’s important to understand the client’s specific needs, goals, and challenges. Conduct research on the organisation, its industry, and its competitive landscape, and use this information to tailor your proposal to the client’s specific situation.
  • Develop a clear value proposition: In your proposal, clearly articulate the value proposition of your organisational design services and explain how they will help the client achieve their objectives. Use case studies or examples of previous successful projects to illustrate the benefits of your approach.
  • Demonstrate expertise and experience: To build credibility with the client, demonstrate your expertise and experience in organisational design. Highlight your qualifications, certifications, and relevant experience, and provide references from previous clients or colleagues who can attest to your skills and capabilities.
  • Build a strong project team: Organisational design projects require a multidisciplinary team with expertise in areas such as change management, human resources, and technology. Assemble a strong project team with a range of skills and experiences, and clearly outline the roles and responsibilities of each team member in your proposal.
  • Develop a detailed project plan: In your proposal, develop a detailed project plan that outlines the scope of the project, the timeline, and the deliverables. Be sure to include regular check-ins and progress reports to ensure that the project stays on track and that the client’s needs are met.
  • Communicate regularly with the client: Throughout the project, maintain regular communication so they are updated on progress. Being responsive and proactive in your communication can help build trust and strengthen the client relationship.


At re:find Executive Search we are specialists in HR transformation. We believe that recruitment is not a one-off transaction but rather a long-term partnership. By building long-term relationships with our clients, we help them to find and retain the best talent for their organisation.

Every organisation is unique and we feel that there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to recruitment. re:find offer bespoke recruitment solutions, that are tailored to meet the specific needs of each client. Whether you need help with a single hire or a full recruitment campaign, we can help.

We commit to providing our clients with the highest quality service. We take the time to understand your organisation’s culture and values, as well as the specific skills needed for each campaign.

For more information please get in contact with our Managing Director, James Cumming.

Mastering the Craft: The Keys to Successful Organisational Development

In today’s rapidly changing business environment, organisations must be able to adapt quickly to remain competitive. To achieve this, they must constantly strive to improve their processes, systems, and culture. Organisational development is a systematic approach to change management that aims to enhance an organisation’s overall effectiveness and performance. It involves a range of interventions, such as team building, leadership development, change management, and performance management, that are designed to help individuals, teams, and the organisation as a whole to work more effectively, efficiently, and cohesively.

Mastering the craft of organisational development is essential for any organisation seeking to achieve sustained success. By developing a deep understanding of the principles and practices of organisational development, leaders can create a culture of continuous learning and improvement that enables their organisation to adapt and thrive in a rapidly changing business environment.

In this blog, we’ll explore the keys to successful organisational development, including the principles and practices that underpin it, and the benefits it can bring to your organisation. Whether you’re a business leader, a human resources professional, or an organisational development practitioner, this blog will provide you with valuable insights and practical tips for mastering the craft of organisational development. So, let’s get started!

What is organisational development?

Organisational development (OD) is a planned, systematic process of change that helps organisations improve their effectiveness. It involves the use of behavioural science knowledge and techniques to diagnose organisational problems and to develop and implement strategies that will lead to improved organisational performance.

OD can be broad ranging, including changes to an organisation’s structure, culture, leadership, systems, and processes. The ultimate goal of OD is to help organisations become more adaptable, innovative, and responsive to the changing needs of their customers, employees, and other stakeholders.

OD is often used by a company to solve issues, such as low employee morale, high turnover rates, or ineffective communication. OD practitioners collaborate closely with organisational leaders and staff to identify the root causes of these issues and create solutions that are tailored to the unique needs of the organisation.

Overall, the goal of OD is to create a healthy and productive work environment that supports the achievement of organisational goals while also promoting the well-being and development of employees.

OD strategy for your business

Organisational development (OD) can be used to support and enhance business strategy in several ways. Some of the key ways that OD can be used for business strategy are:

  1. Aligning the organisation’s structure with its strategy: OD practitioners can help businesses to design their organisational structure to better support their strategic goals. This can involve creating new departments or teams, redefining roles and responsibilities, or streamlining processes to increase efficiency and effectiveness.
  2. Building a high-performance culture: OD an be used to create a culture of high performance that supports the achievement of business goals. This can involve developing leadership skills, promoting teamwork, and establishing a set of shared values and behaviours that support the organisation’s strategic objectives.
  3. Developing talent: OD can be used to identify and develop the skills and capabilities that are required to execute the organisation’s business strategy. This may involve implementing training and development programs, coaching and mentoring, or succession planning to ensure that the organisation has the talent it needs to achieve its goals.
  4. Improving communication and collaboration: OD interventions can help to improve communication and collaboration within the organisation, which is essential for successful execution of business strategy. This can involve improving internal communication channels, implementing team-building initiatives, and promoting a culture of transparency and openness.


Organisations that fail to invest in effective organisational development may face a range of challenges that can impact their performance and sustainability. Here are some of the challenges that poor organisational development can create:

  1. Lack of Adaptability: Poor organisational development can lead to a lack of adaptability, making it difficult for organisations to respond to changes in the business environment. This can result in lost opportunities, decreased competitiveness, and even business failure.
  2. Low Employee Engagement: Poor organisational development can lead to low levels of employee engagement and motivation, which can result in reduced productivity, high turnover rates, and difficulties in attracting and retaining talent.
  3. Ineffective Leadership: Poor organisational development can result in ineffective leadership, as leaders may not have the skills and knowledge to effectively manage and develop their teams. This can result in poor decision-making, low morale, and a lack of direction within the organisation.
  4. Inefficient Processes: Poor organisational development can lead to inefficient processes, as teams may not be structured in an optimal way or have the necessary skills to perform their roles effectively. This can result in delays, errors, and increased costs.
  5. Poor Company Culture: Poor organisational development can also result in a negative company culture, where employees do not feel valued or supported, and there is a lack of trust and collaboration within the organisation. This can result in high levels of absenteeism, low job satisfaction, and difficulties in retaining talent.


Organisational development (OD) can play a critical role in an overall HR transformation programme, as it focuses on enhancing the performance and effectiveness of the organisation as a whole. Here are some ways that OD can fit into an HR transformation programme:

  1. Alignment with HR Strategy: Organisational development initiatives should align with the broader HR strategy of the organisation. By doing so, they can support the organisation’s overall goals and contribute to a comprehensive HR transformation programme.
  2. Cultural Transformation: Organisational development can play a key role in driving cultural transformation. By promoting a culture of continuous learning and improvement, OD can help to foster a growth mindset and promote innovation, which are essential for success in today’s fast-paced business environment.
  3. Talent Management: Organisational development can help organisations to develop their talent management practices, including recruitment, training, and development. By focusing on the development of people, OD can help to create a more engaged and productive workforce.
  4. Change Management: Organisational development can provide a framework for managing change effectively. By using OD techniques, organisations can help their employees to adapt to change and ensure that the changes they implement are sustained over the long term.
  5. Leadership Development: Organisational development can play a key role in developing leadership capability within an organisation. By focusing on leadership development, OD can help to create a strong pipeline of talent and ensure that the organisation is well-equipped to deal with future challenges.

OD career options

Typically, a career journey in OD involves the following stages:

  1. Entry-level OD roles: Individuals may begin their OD career as an OD coordinator, analyst, or assistant. In these roles, they would support the implementation of OD interventions, analyze data, and assist with communication and stakeholder engagement.
  2. OD specialist: As individuals gain experience and expertise in OD, they may advance to a specialist role where they lead specific OD interventions or projects. This may include designing and implementing change management initiatives, developing leadership development programs, or conducting organisational assessments.
  3. OD consultant: Experienced OD professionals can move in to consulting where they work with external clients to provide OD advice and support. They may work for a consulting firm such as one of the big 4 (PWC, KPMG, Deloitte or EY) or as an independent consultant. They will provide a wide range of OD services, including strategic planning, leadership development, and team-building.
  4. OD manager/director: Some people decide to progress they may move into a management or director-level role where they oversee the OD function within an organisation. In this role, they would be responsible for developing and implementing the OD strategy, managing a team of OD professionals, and working closely with senior leaders to align OD initiatives with business goals.
  5. Executive-level OD roles: In some cases, experienced OD professionals may advance to an executive-level role within an organisation, such as Chief People Officer or Chief Human Resources Officer. In these roles, they would drive the overall people strategy for the organisation, which includes OD initiatives aimed at improving organisational effectiveness and driving business results
Our focus on long-term partnerships

At re:find Executive Search we believe that recruitment is not a one-off transaction but rather a long-term partnership. By building long-term relationships with our clients, we help them to find and retain the best talent for their organisation.

Every organisation is unique and we feel that there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to recruitment. re:find offer bespoke recruitment solutions, that are tailored to meet the specific needs of each client. Whether you need help with a single hire or a full recruitment campaign, we can help.

We commit to providing our clients with the highest quality service. We take the time to understand your organisation’s culture and values, as well as the specific skills needed for each campaign.

For more information please get in contact with our Managing Director, James Cumming.

Cracking the Code: Mastering Organisational Design for Successful Restructures

Organisational design, the dark art of a company restructure… the past 12 months have seen limited strategic change initiatives, my guess is that OD is going to be one of the most sought after skill-sets in 2021.

This increase in strategic change is likely to be accelerated as a result of the pandemic.

Although, the continuous disruption of industries means that companies now need regular shake-ups in order to succeed over the long-term.

As many leaders will already know, a high number of change programmes fail, with a large percentage simply running out of steam. In other cases, some fail to meet their objectives or improve performance once implemented. Could this be down to the organisational design or the actual implementation of the new model?

In a study conducted by Mckinsey, they found that; “the most successful organizations combine stable design elements with dynamic elements that change in response to evolving markets and new strategic directions. Corporate redesigns give organizations a rare opportunity to identify the stable backbone and set up those elements ripe for dynamic change.” The most successful companies see organisational redesign as a chance to rebuild the landscape and direct the future of the company.

What is ‘Organisation Design’ all about these days?

Today, organisational design involves the processes that people follow, the management of individual performance, the recruitment of top talent as well as the development of employee’s skills. When the redesign of a company lines up with its strategic intentions, there is a higher chance of employees being able to execute and successfully deliver these changes.

All organisational change programmes should start with corporate self-reflection. Asking questions about the purpose and direction of your company is surprisingly effective when it comes to keeping the focus on a new design strategy.

A study conducted by Deloitte echoed this sentiment – it found that whilst effective organisation design delivers significant improvements in business performance, most companies fail as they don’t go far enough in addressing real organisational or structural issues, and that; “businesses embark on organisation design projects in search of benefits they can’t achieve through organisation design alone—or even at all.”

But – all hope is not lost! There are things you can do to encourage a successful redesign.

How can you get it right?

  • Spend time to define the purpose of the organisation. It is critical to engage with leaders and people in the business to ensure that they buy into the change – before decisions are made.
  • One of the key aspects of any change programme is to get the new changes to last! Make sure that you put time and resource into business change, which will likely include significant cultural change, comms and training. Otherwise, employees may revert to how they previously operated.
  • Interim executives have proven experience in moving the programme forward towards implementation. Typically, it’s right after the management consultancies have developed the top-level strategy.
  • Lastly, you’ll want to assemble a leadership team that has the right capability and is bought into the new strategy.

James Cumming is our MD, Interim and Transformation Search specialist. If you’ve got a hard-to-fill role and need some help, get in touch. Connect with him on LinkedIn.


Restructuring? You must take an ethical approach during this crisis

On a daily basis I speak to C suite leaders of large corporates. It doesn’t take a data scientist to get that with the government’s furlough scheme soon coming to an end, there is a significant amount of restructuring about to happen.

It will be interesting to see how large businesses react. I hope that businesses will take in to account that this time is different than normal, people have long memories and will remember those that do the right thing and those that don’t.

You can already see from the negative press that a certain airline entrepreneur has had, that this isn’t the same as before.

Business leaders should heed Warren Buffett’s advice “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.”

In a typical recession, cuts are broad and indiscriminate, this time (from the conversations I have been having), it seems that companies are taking a more nuanced approach.

There are 3 key themes that come up time and time again:


Companies are mindful of the reputational damage associated with how they act during this crisis

Staff are often a significant part of a company’s P&L and are one of the quickest ways to reduce cost. During most recessions, mass redundancies are one of the first things that happen.

Government intervention has paused this for a lot of companies but it hasn’t gone away. Companies need to be mindful of the reasons why they might make redundancies.

If it’s because your levels of business have dropped and you are facing a liquidity crisis – people will understand.

If it’s because the CEO needs to keep profits up to keep the share price stable (and to get a bigger bonus), people will remember this for some time to come and it will have a negative long term impact on business reputation and ultimately performance.


Employees have realised how to get stuff done quickly (and have generally delivered it well)

Business leaders seem surprised at how easily people in operations have delivered things. Actually getting on and doing the job they are paid for… Who would have thought?!

It won’t come as a surprise, that given UK PLCs productivity challenge, that many companies are now reviewing their management structures with a view of having the right business people in the most effective roles.

In my view there is going to be a significant need for organisation design, change professionals and management consultancies to help businesses come out of this crisis in the right shape.

The common themes are to work out the most efficient structures, to define what job roles the organisation might need in a future state and to ensure that technology is adopted.


Communication and engagement has never been so important

Transparency is going to be key as we come out of this.

If your company is in trouble, I would suggest telling people the truth. People are well aware of the magnitude of what is going on around them, they might not like some of the business decisions that are made but they won’t appreciate being lied to.

Honesty brings people together around a shared cause or purpose. The more engaged and knowledgable people feel, the better their ability to understand and support decisions being made.

Remember, a few months ago that ‘Talent’ was in short supply and although the fundamentals may have changed in the short term. People will remember how their leaders have acted and how they have made them feel during a crisis. The best people will leave when things get better if they haven’t been treated in the right way.


Thinking of hiring an interim executive? You need to get it right! Discover the 8 step process you should follow, by downloading our free eBook here.

James Cumming is our Interim and Transformation Search specialist. Please get in contact with him directly to discuss any of these topics further.

The Interim role at board level

Business change and transformation moved to centre stage following the recession and it’s remained there! Many businesses, particularly those who have lost talented staff at all levels, now have the opportunity for growth, but with a host of new challenges. These challenges include new competitors, technology and changing markets and businesses beginning to realise that they can’t “transform” gradually. They need to make a step change and that’s where the ‘Professional Interim Executive’ earns their money and reputation.

The vision

It starts with the CEO or a Chairman, who has the vision. Sometimes this individual is also an interim recruited by a parent company or arriving via private equity. But more frequently, it is someone internal who recognises the challenge and, whilst valuing the talents of their existing team, knows they need help. They are too embedded in the organisation to be able to take a fresh view without external help. Often, the first challenge for an interim at board level, is to convince senior colleagues that they are not there to ease them out. (Although sometimes that is necessary!) Their role is to help them take a fresh view of their business, the market, the customers and the operating processes. Then develop and implement new strategies that will make change happen immediately.


What has changed “post-recession” is the speed of change. Whilst businesses have always had change, there has been an acceptance that “change doesn’t happen overnight” and it can’t happen if the whole organisation isn’t on board. To use an analogy, “a long journey starts with a small step”. In 2014, that small step needed to be a leap, followed by a number of big steps, otherwise the change would falter and come to a halt.

In 2019, it is much of the same. Change is very important for businesses and bringing in an interim can help to make change happen quickly and effectively. It is even more fundamental now with all the uncertainty for businesses around Brexit.

The interim role

Businesses bring in interims at different levels in the organisation. Sometimes to lead particular projects, sometimes to fill vacancies during a recruitment process and sometimes because a function/departmental head has seen the need to “transform” their particular function. All valid reasons for recruiting an interim. But real change has to come from the top and that requires the main ‘change agent’ to be operating at the ‘Senior Leadership Team’ level. It doesn’t have to be the CEO, however, clearly the CEO has to be receptive and supportive.

It is an exciting time to be an interim. But it’s vital for the future and the reputation of the profession, that we recognise that whilst you need to be committed to any business you work with, as an interim you are not “part of the business”. You are there to give a fresh perspective. Once you begin to feel part of the business, it’s time to end the contract!

Paul Duncan is the founder of Duncan Paul Ltd, an experienced HR/Change Director and Business Expert. Paul provides consultancy providing strategic advice on the management of Change Management, Business Transformation, Business Strategy and Planning, Organisational Design and Development, and Employee Relations (Union Negotiation at all levels).

James Cumming is our MD and leads our HR practice. He has recruited senior HR professionals for over 15 years and has experience in finding niche HR talent. Connect with him on LinkedIn here.

If you would like to find out more about re:find and how we can support you and your business, then please get in touch.