Interim Manager as a driving force for digital transformation: 6 tips for the future of work

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“We live in a transition period with profound breaks. It's not just about a technological transformation, it's about a social and cultural one - and it changes the way we think Guide and management, ”says Prof. Dr. Bernhard von Mutius, a future thinker at the HPI School of Design Thinking. But the change in the mind is often difficult. How interim managers can give new impulses in this context.

Interim Management

Here writes for you:


Harald Smolak Best of HR –®Harald Smolak is a client director and HR director at Atreus.


Digital transformation means organizational change

Cloud Technology, Internet of Things or Big Data Analytics: Many Company still believe that they can cope with the digital transformation simply by introducing modern tools. But networking technologies and new apps, devices and systems are at best a tool in the digital transformation. In fact, digital transformation for businesses is primarily about changing their overall organization, thinking, and working. The flexible, often only project-related cooperation across team, company and industry boundaries presents them with constantly growing challenges. Finally, this also requires completely new forms of cooperation.

Many corporate executives are intuitively aware of the fact that traditional management models have failed. This is especially true of the old-established, (still) successful groups. After all, young, agile start-ups from Silicon Valley or Siliconallee are nowadays aggressive competitors in almost all industries - from the telecommunications sector to the automotive industry, to the increasingly fierce competition in the healthcare sector. The advantage of the new digital attackers: Agile, lean work using modern methods such as design thinking or rapid prototyping belongs to their DNA. They simply do not need a transformation - they have always been digital.

Interim managers are not just fire extinguishers

The pressure on established companies will continue to increase because we do not know what is right in this unstable situation. The “new” is not that far yet - and the “old” is still there because we are in a transition situation. Disruptive thinking will therefore become a survival factor for future success in the context of the new industrial revolution - not only as a method, but above all in the executive levels.

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But what does this mean for corporate executives who have proven themselves in the old world, but realize that their success is stagnating? For traditional restructuring, interim managers are often sought, which are often selected by interim management providers for specific customer requirements. These experts have repeatedly demonstrated in a number of different projects that they can quickly and surely get a company back on track.

 6 tips for the future of work

In order to successfully influence and implement digital changes in companies, interim managers can accelerate this transformation process effectively. Their focus is not on the optimization of production processes or portfolio adjustments, a cliché with which Interim Manager often connects.

Rather, they can help establish exactly the disruptive leadership culture that is so necessary for the successful change in digital transformation. What makes these managers stand out, what does it matter, and how can they support corporate executives in the digital world? Six hypotheses how interim managers can successfully accompany digital transformation.

  1. Interim managers for digital transformation focus on HR management. They understand complex organizational contexts and can bring their experiences from different cultural change projects contextually and purposefully.
  2. You work as a trusted advisor on an equal footing with the decision-makers. They are both sparring partners for the transformation and an active implementer. You have a role as a coach and as an operational manager who can implement agile leadership principles with the employees in the organization.
  3. As self-employed entrepreneurs, they are independent consultants who do not have to pursue policies on their own behalf. They have no past and no future in the company and therefore can concentrate with their energy on their demanding task.
  4. Interim managers know unstable company situations from their own experience in their projects. Therefore, they quickly make effective decisions and, in addition to their technical competence, have the ability to successfully prevail over preventers and preservers in difficult business situations. They have a high degree of personal responsibility and can work together with all personalities within the organization in a target-oriented and solution-oriented manner.
  5. They are safe in dealing with insecurity. Through creativity and the use of knowledge, they are able to develop and implement jointly effective solutions within their internal and external networks.
  6. They help decision-makers to evolve as disruptive leaders by providing a healthy balance between deterministic, transactional, and charismatic, transformative leadership in the process of change.


Interim managers are constantly exposed to new market changes in their jobs. They are knowledge workers for the challenges of the future and have internalized project-specific work in constantly changing company contexts for many years. In particular, companies that require a fresh-house network in the context of digital transformation should therefore seriously consider the use of an interim manager.

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