Interim management is like climbing a rock face without a rope

“It’s OK to climb a rock face when the top rope is hanging there. That’s a luxury you don’t often have as an interim manager. But that’s what makes it all so exciting”, says Sigbjørn Modalsli, M.Sc. He has recently “climbed a rock face without a rope”, as interim leader of a major logistics company.  

Like most interim managers, Modalsli has an impressive track record. In addition to over 4 years of experience as interim manager of major companies, he has served in senior finance positions at NSB (Norwegian State Railways), DNT (Norwegian Trekking Association) and the travel agency Berg-Hansen.

But even leaders are in a constant learning situation, and the learning curve is often steep, especially when you start in a completely new industry where the climbers before you have taken the rope with them.

Challenging assignment for major Norwegian logistics company 

The sports interested economist tells the following about his latest assignment through InterimLeder for a major Norwegian logistics company that intended to fix their entire price structure and therefore needed a senior economist to see the project through to the very end. The challenge was that his predecessor had most of the information stored in his head:

"I had just completed an interim management assignment for their sister company, including making improvements to routines for budgeting, forecasting and reporting, when I got a new assignment. It was to establish a periodically based pricing model. There was no handbook and no work schedule. Much of the work, therefore, involved documenting the process, being in close dialogue with suppliers, dealers, and establishing mathematical models that worked. It was challenging, but we achieved our goal in time. To use a mountaineering analogy it was almost like climbing on a rock face without a rope” says Modalsli.

A simple philosophy

Modalsli is not a big consumer of management and leadership training books and he feels that he learns most about the human mind by reading Jo Nesbø. He is also a healthy sceptic when it comes to management trends, which he does not recommend that one accepts in full, but rather that one picks and choses among the best elements. When interim management is being discussed he has the following simple philosophy:

“Work as though you have been there for a long time and are going to be there for a long time yet, while knowing that that is not the case. The results you are to submit should be as though you have been there a long time. And of course, be sure to document what you do”, he says.