March 16, 2020

Succession planning

We usually take a regal, personal view of succession in a business.   An heir is selected, carefully trained, and groomed to take the helm when we leave.

This approach is fraught with difficulties.   We put off the selection, training and all that, because we’d rather not face our own mortality, and because to do all that takes time out from running the business.   The heir we choose may not wish to be chosen – even if they are family.   They may not wish to shoulder the risk of destroying their inheritance.    There may not be anyone already in the business that we want to be our heir.

There is a more rational, systemic approach.

Build a business around a clearly defined customer experience process, that gives people the confidence to know what they are doing without constraining their personality and individuality.    Give people clear roles to play and all the resources at their fingertips to play them well.   Train them to perform more than one role,  so they can have variety of work, you have redundancy in the system and the customer learns that they can happily deal with anyone in the business.

Built this way, a business more or less runs itself, giving you more options for succession, including sale at its full value.   You could even leave it to your employees.

Now there’s a legacy to be proud of.