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Process Tempo Insights

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Succession Planning in the CoVID19 Era

Over the past two years, CEOs have been stepping down in record numbers. According to Fortune, 2019 Was The Year Of The CEO Exodus, who also announced The Great CEO Exodus of 2020 just two months later.

In light of recent global circumstances, and as U.S. jobless claims pass 40 million, we're instead honing in on the concept of Succession Planning for individual employees and team members over C-suite executives.

While Business Continuity Planning is the process of creating systems of prevention and recovery to deal with potential threats to a company, Succession Planning is a strategy for passing on leadership roles to an employee or group of employees. Also known as "replacement planning," it ensures that businesses continue to run smoothly after a company's most influential people move on. (source)

Both involve a system that can handle disruption and continue existing processes while reducing potential threats and risks to operations. What applies to Business Continuity Planning should also be used in Succession strategies.

Yet many companies don't have a Succession Plan in place:

".. only 19% of independent advisors have an actionable succession plan… 80% of advisors overall do not have a written succession plan, and 75% of advisors do not have a plan for the continuity of their business..."

Perhaps this variable contributes to the statistic we explored in our previous blog that 40% of small businesses fail to resume after a disaster.

Take a moment to consider the plans your teams may have had for 2020:

  • Have those plans changed dramatically over the past three months?

  • Have these plans evolved sometimes weekly?

  • If a team is/was restructured, or if critical individuals are/were unable to perform their duties, how would/did others continue operations?

  • How transparent are your leaders' plans during this time that others in the company can provide different perspectives?

We're advocating for a culture of succession planning that extends beyond leadership and works its way into teams and departments. The purpose of this culture is not to make individual employees replaceable. Instead, the purpose is to encourage greater collaboration, empower individual team members to withstand and adapt to any circumstance, improve their skills and their projects, and provide the opportunity to grow with one another.

The purpose of succession planning on a team level is to encourage greater cooperation and collaboration, empower individual team members to withstand and adapt to any circumstance, improve their skills and their projects, and provide the opportunity to grow with one another.

We're advocating for organizations to help develop trust between groups so they can feel safe in sharing people, processes, and philosophies of how they operate.

Implementing this culture would be a significant change for many companies, and it wouldn't happen overnight. But it's a project worth starting.

Think about it: right now, could your organization handle a representative from Accounts Payable shifting to Accounts Receivable to help reduce a receivables backlog? Could an HR team member from Recruiting and Compensation, pivot to help Staffing and Benefits deal with an influx of unemployment, retirement, and insurance processing? Could teams be shifted into R&D roles to help advance new product development or rethink planned product releases?

Formalizing Succession Planning Is Critical

For leaders, formalizing this process demonstrates an organizational commitment to developing and mentoring employees. Improving skills and competencies help increase the organization's talent pool rather than grooming specific candidates. It also ensures all managers are aware of key employees, and they are highlighted automatically as strong players should roles become available.

For teams and employees, transparency regarding the next potential opportunity is massively beneficial. Informal systems do not recognize the true value of employees and their skills. Formal systems can help improve efficacy, self-respect, and self-esteem, helping to reinforce the individual desire for opportunity and development.

The Role of Data & Data Repositories

Data and data repositories can be leveraged to develop a more formal, structured, and effective approach to succession planning and help facilitate transitions by:

  • Helping to create and maintain internal records for processes, procedures, and key contacts

  • Creating flexible, faster interfaces to track the assignment of corporate assets such as tools, monitors, laptops, and automating back-office updates of monolithic corporate asset records

  • Identifying opportunities for employee growth

  • Accurately capturing information and the lessons learned to establish process improvements

  • Documenting assumptions and thinking that led to decision-making and evaluating them later to understand what worked, what didn't, and why

How transparent is your organization's succession plan? Are your data and systems actively working to help formalize this process? Perhaps it is now time to take a closer look at how your data is working to keep your business stronger?


Jim Szczygiel has been working as an Information Technologist since the early nineties. Most recently Jim has held roles as a consultant, product manager, data analyst, sales, and solutions architect along with working with agile and extreme programming teams. Jim has provided services in hundreds of different fortune 500 clients in the sectors of; Chemical and Natural Resources, Finance, Insurance, and Manufacturing. Read More


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