Why Traditional Succession Planning Fails


I was talking with a well respected strategic planning consultant, Mark Ziska, this morning over coffee about how traditional notions of succession planning fail in today’s rapidly changing work environment.  The traditional concept, simplified, is to develop one or more candidates for each high-level or key position in an organization.  This sounds like a logical thing to do until the executive team begins thinking strategically about what leadership competencies the firm will need in the future.  Recently, Orlando Blake shared an article about the top competencies that will be needed in the future, and quite frankly many high-level or key positions won’t be around or will look vastly different next year or in a few years.  That is why replacement planning just doesn’t work.  What happens if a high potential employee is being groomed for a position that won’t exist in a few years?

A better solution is to develop all supervisors, managers, and high potential staff members in the leadership competencies and skills that will be needed in the future organization.  There may not be an organization chart that currently shows the exact titles or positions needed, yet when this method is used leaders will be ready for whatever the future brings.  That’s why Leader Discovery is currently developing the Achieve Leadership Academy to provide the leadership skills and competencies management needs now and in the future.

Does your experience match?  Have you tried succession planning only to find the world is too volatile, unpredictable, complex, and ambiguous to simply groom today’s high potentials for current leadership positions?  I’d love to compare notes.