October 20, 2023

From dictatorship to democracy in a single generation

In business, our view of succession is not unlike that of royals.    An heir apparent is selected, carefully trained, and groomed to take the helm when we leave.

This approach is fraught with difficulties.

First, as regnant monarch, 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.

Next, the heir we select may not wish to be chosen – even if they are family.   They may not wish to shoulder the risk of destroying their inheritance.   They may have other ideas on what to do with their life.

The people we’ve overlooked may resent that, and start to at least detach themselves from the business, or undermine it, or worse decide to fight over it.

Finally, there may not be an obvious heir.

There is a more rational, modern approach.

  • Build your business around a clearly defined customer experience (an OurScore ), that gives people the confidence to know what they are doing without constraining their personality and individuality.
  • Give people clear roles to play.  Put all the resources they need to play them well at their fingertips.  Including the feedback that will enable them to improve both the customer experience and their own ability to deliver it.
  • 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.

It gives you far more options for succession, because anyone who works in it can be your heir, if they want.

Or everyone.

A transition from dictatorship to democracy in a single generation.

That would be a legacy to be really proud of.

Discipline makes Daring possible.

Ask me how.