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Fear of the Unknown……

Clare Elliott, 22nd September 2016

Ian Clarke, Interim CxO and Board Advisor with global experience of both publicly quoted and private companies across the following sectors: TMT, Financial Services, IT, Business Services and Retail. Read about Ian’s expedition across the Greenland Ice Cap drawing parallels with his career.

“I’ve just returned from crossing the Greenland ice cap. It took 23 days. I covered 600km. I lost 7kg. It got down to -40c. We had numerous storms with winds over 50 mph. I loved it.” This is what Ian said to us in July 2015, just after he’d returned from a gruelling expedition in the arctic circle. So we thought we’d catch up with him to ask about how his experiences helped him in the world of interim.

“I’ve been an interim for over 6 years now. Luckily, I’ve had highly rewarding and interesting back to back assignments during that time. Interspaced with a few expeditions like the one above; where I’ve finished climbing the 7 summits and walked to both the North and South Poles amongst other adventures.

I find the challenge of an expedition, is often matched by the challenges I find within my clients. My speciality tends to be overcoming inertia to deliver real growth and change. I am sure we all see this within the organisations that we help. Often businesses will have great people, pretty good plans and a fair understanding of what they want to do next. But often, they are stuck. Just doing the same old things as their market and clients and competition move on around them. I tend to find the cause of this inertia is fear of the unknown, or fear of something new.

The approach I use to deciding whether to step onto an ice cap, or climb a mountain, is exactly the same thought process I use to encourage my clients to “step over the rubicon” and take a challengers approach to the market.

Step 1: Get clarity on what they are here to do. Ensuring my client knows why they are in business and what their purpose is.
Step 2: Knowing who they are in business for. Focusing on exactly what the market offer is and what customer needs it meets.
Step 3: Being clear on how they are going to win and what is needed to effectively deliver the offer with no waste and a laser focus.

Without a clear goal and effective preparation to deliver that goal, you will never complete an expedition successfully. Likewise, without clarity on the customer proposition that a business is going to use to win within its chosen market, commercial success is equally unlikely. Success in both environments requires careful thought and courage. Working through these 3 steps can help to get the momentum required to win.”

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