InterSolve Group... has made a business out of
promoting... alliances, working with chief executives to assemble teams from diverse sources to create new business opportunities."
– Reuters

December 1991

Firm offers Just-in-time management

By Diana Kunde, Staff Writer of The Dallas Morning News

One of the team formerly directed a major executive search firm. Another was CEO of Neiman Marcus for nine years. The two others have backgrounds in corporate finance.

The foursome is launching a management services firm that will bring together small teams of highly experienced executives to implement strategies or solve problems -- and then disband.

The new firm is InterSolve Group Inc.

Its four principals are Stephen A. Garrison, former chairman and CEO of the executive search firm Ward Howell International; Richard C. Marcus, former CEO of the Dallas-based retailing company founded by his family; Edward R. McPherson, former senior vice president and chief financial officer of First Republic Bank Corp. who left to form his own consulting firm in 1988; and Peter B. McKee, most recently chief financial officer of Metro Airlines.

"We don't see this as a conventional or traditional consulting business," Mr. McPherson said. "Our focus is on execution, implementation."

The four talk about "just-in-time talent," borrowing a term from Japanese-style lean manufacturing.

The idea is to take advantage of downsizing and decentralizing trends in U.S. industry by marketing a flexible and experienced team available for specific tasks.

"We can create a team to solve a problem, expand the team, contract the team and disappear . . . . We come and go as the need arises," Mr. Garrison said.

InterSolve is positioning itself as neither an interim management firm nor a consulting firm, but a unique blend of both elements.

The concept is "more temporary projects than temporary executives," Mr. McPherson said.

"We're not aware of anybody -- at least in Dallas -- taking quite this approach," Mr. Marcus said.

Members of InterSolve Group say they are already generating, high interest after a month of operating informally.

All were consulting individually for brief periods before joining forces.

Mr. McPherson said the team is considering a project to design and implement a regional marketing strategy for a management team more versed in national efforts.

Another ongoing project, Mr. McPherson said, is "facilitating change in attitude, behavior and technique in a small group of senior executives who are responsible for marketing and selling products and services" in a large company undergoing change.

InterSolve's strengths are in experience, its pooled contacts with seasoned managers around the country, and a lack of built-in overhead, the four executives said.

"There's a great difference in structural cost (from a traditional consulting firm)," Mr. McPherson said. "You can bring the right talent to fit the organization, as opposed to using talent already inventoried ... that may not fit the client's needs."

Said Mr. Kennedy the newsletter publisher: "It's an interesting concept that people will be watching with a certain amount of skepticism." The proof will be in the firm's longevity, he said.

Mr. Garrison believes the four have an idea whose time has come. "This enormous change that's happening right now in the US. economy is creating all sorts of new opportunities," as well as economic pain, he said.

"We hope to be riding the fact that companies are downsizing. It doesn't mean they don't need services. They need to find a better way of getting those services cheaper."