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The capacity to attain capacity?

I have worked in organisations with ExCo members whose complaint is that they don’t have anybody available to do a specific something.    They need someone with the capacity to resolve the problem, but how does the searcher identify someone with the capacity?

It needn’t even be the six degrees of separation thing.  I know that the person with skills is almost at their fingertips.  It’s like they have their hand in the fish pond but don’t know that their fingers are millimetres away from the trout. 

The interim manager is the trout.  Here the analogy falls down, because we want to get caught.  Like most interims, I’ve been working for a long time.  So I’ve done a huge variety of things.  It’s got to the stage where, frankly, I’m drawing on a large array of skills, but use them in a different mix each time.

So what’s the value that I, and many interims, bring?  In my most flippant moments I have been known to quote a chap called Woodrow: that I have “the capacity to attain capacity”.  This does not go down well with junior recruiters; so I have stopped saying it.  Although that does not stop me from thinking it.  

What I mean is that if you (ExCo person) throw a problem at me: I will work out what to do with it.  Then I will roll-up my sleeves and get it done.  I don’t need to demonstrate that I have resolved that particular problem before, but I can show that I have successfully sorted-out a wide variety of problems.

Last year I had dinner with a potential client and her Mr Fix-it.  After the starter they outlined their problem.  Frankly they were both woolly when explaining this problem.  The underlying question was how to stop a major client making lots of noise about something which was distracting everybody up to the board of directors. 

She wanted this thing fixed.  I got the job.  In the first days I got to understand the problem, but I didn’t have the faintest idea how to resolve it.  What she and Mr Fix-it had spotted was that I had the capacity to sort it out.  Which I did.  How I got from problem identification to a set of solutions I do not know.  But I did – and (by the way) I got a substantial follow-on piece of work. 

I knew that I had sorted-out complicated things before.  I knew that if I thought about it, and talked it through a few times with the client and her people, that I’d come-up with a solution and a plan.  I also had the confidence to roll my sleeves up and sell-in and run the plan.

That is what I mean by the capacity to attain capacity.  That’s the value good interim managers bring.  In fact, the value that anybody brings who is any use.  So what is it that enables a hiring manager to identify that you have the capacity to attain the capacity?  A referral?  Your CV?  Penetrating interview questions?  What?  I’d like to know please.


With thanks to Alan Greenwood, our new guest blogger who will be posting regular insights into various subjects surrounding interim management and the ever changing recruitment landscape.

Alan has over 30 years experience in the Financial Services industry with Citibank in Europe and for various consultancies.  For the last 12 years he has been an interim manager and has a track record of delivering significant  business  transformation projects in the UK and internationally. 



To discuss how we can help with any recruitment requirements, please call 01423 704153 or email


News posted: 24/11/2014 by Alan Greenwood

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