Beyond the Rescue: A New Paradigm for Turnaround Professionals

I’ve always been impressed with the skills, dedication and hard work of those professionals in the Turnaround Industry.  (see also Global Turnaround and INSOL) Facing impossible deadlines, screaming creditors and often angry and demoralized employees, they quickly size up the situation, stem the negative cash flow, make the “hard business decisions”, realign the balance sheet and stabilize operations.

These are experienced business people who understand the “realities” of business and organization dynamics, not freshly minted MBA’s hiding behind the brand of a global consulting or accounting firm.  They are in high demand and often leave their families during the week and take up residence, working all hours of the day and night, usually as the interim CEO or CFO, to rescue the company.

It’s a good model and works well, as far as it goes.

However, I think its time for a new paradigm within the turnaround community:  one that goes beyond rescue and helps put in place a sustainable growth capability for future success.

Ah, I can hear the Turnaround professionals saying: “But that’s not our job. We are hired by the (creditors or debtors) to keep the company from going belly-up.  They pay us to stabilize the company, do the heavy lifting, then we leave.”

You’re right. But look at it this way.  After all the work you’ve done inside the company, who knows more than you about the strengths and weaknesses of the company?  Who knows more about the strengths and weaknesses of the management team?  Who has spent countless hours rebuilding trust with customers and suppliers?  Who has a good idea of a reasonable forward strategy?

What I’m not suggesting is that you sign on as the permanent CEO or CFO.  Instead, let’s think creatively.

What if there was a proven set of management processes that you and your team could help the owners / managers quickly implement, that could align, focus, deploy, govern, communicate and engage all employees in the delivery of a “Go Forward” plan . . .  fast?   What if you took your business acumen to the next step and helped them get aligned and organized for sustainable growth, not just for recovery?

Why should the professionals of the turnaround community take this additional step?  Three reasons come quickly to mind:

  • because you have the knowledge, skills and maturity to lead this important step,
  • because it is the right thing to do.  We don’t need more failed companies at this time, we need successful companies growing and creating more jobs to pull the economy along and get people back to work
  • because it provides additional revenue, and you’re already on-site

Think about it!  What process could you put together that would help launch a company on the growth path?   I think it’s worth the effort all around.

Tight Lines . . .

About johnrchildress

John Childress is a pioneer in the field of strategy execution, culture change, executive leadership and organization effectiveness, author of several books and numerous articles on leadership, an effective public speaker and workshop facilitator for Boards and senior executive teams. In 1978 John co-founded The Senn-Delaney Leadership Consulting Group, the first international consulting firm to focus exclusively on culture change, leadership development and senior team alignment. Between 1978 and 2000 he served as its President and CEO and guided the international expansion of the company. His work with senior leadership teams has included companies in crisis (GPU Nuclear – owner of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Plants following the accident), deregulated industries (natural gas pipelines, telecommunications and the breakup of The Bell Telephone Companies), mergers and acquisitions and classic business turnaround scenarios with global organizations from the Fortune 500 and FTSE 250 ranks. He has designed and conducted consulting engagements in the US, UK, Europe, Middle East, Africa, China and Asia. Currently John is an independent advisor to CEO’s, Boards, management teams and organisations on strategy execution, corporate culture, leadership team effectiveness, business performance and executive development. John was born in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and eventually moved to Carmel Highlands, California during most of his business career. John is a Phi Beta Kappa scholar with a BA degree (Magna cum Laude) from the University of California, a Masters Degree from Harvard University and was a PhD candidate at the University of Hawaii before deciding on a career as a business entrepreneur in the mid-70s. In 1968-69 he attended the American University of Beirut and it was there that his interest in cultures, leadership and group dynamics began to take shape. John Childress resides in London and the south of France with his family and is an avid flyfisherman, with recent trips to Alaska, the Amazon River, Tierra del Fuego, and Kamchatka in the far east of Russia. He is a trustee for Young Virtuosi, a foundation to support talented young musicians. You can reach John at or
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