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Succession planning

Succession planning is a process for identifying and developing internal people with the potential to fill key business leadership positions in the company. Succession planning increases the availability of experienced and capable employees that are prepared to assume these roles as they become available. Taken narrowly, "replacement planning" for key roles is the heart of succession planning. Effective succession or talent-pool management concerns itself with building a series of feeder groups up and down the entire leadership pipeline or progression (Charan, Drotter, Noel, 2001). In contrast, replacement planning is focused narrowly on identifying specific back-up candidates for given senior management positions. For the most part position-driven replacement planning (often referred to as the "truck scenario") is a forecast, which research indicates does not have substantial impact on outcomes. Fundamental to the succession-management process is an underlying philosophy that argues that top talent in the corporation must be managed for the greater good of the enterprise. Merck and other companies argue that a "talent mindset" must be part of the leadership culture for these practices to be effective. Research indicates many succession-planning initiatives fall short of their intent (Corporate Leadership Council, 1998). "Bench strength," as it is commonly called, remains a stubborn problem in many if not most companies. Studies indicate that companies that report the greatest gains from succession planning feature high ownership by the CEO and high degrees of engagement among the larger leadership team [1] Companies that are well known for their succession planning and executive talent development practices include: GE, Honeywell, IBM, Marriott, Microsoft, Pepsi and Procter & Gamble. Research indicates that clear objectives are critical to establishing effective succession planning.[2] These objectives tend to be core to many or most companies that have wellestablished practices:

Identify those with the potential to assume greater responsibility in the organization Provide critical development experiences to those that can move into key roles Engage the leadership in supporting the development of high-potential leaders Build a data base that can be used to make better staffing decisions for key jobs

In other companies these additional objectives may be embedded in the succession process:

Improve employee commitment and retention Meet the career development expectations of existing employees Counter the increasing difficulty and costs of recruiting employees externally

Field of succession management

There is a substantial body of literature on the subject of succession planning. The first book that addressed the topic fully was "Executive Continuity" by Walter Mahler. Mahler was responsible in the 1970s for helping to shape the General Electric succession process which became the gold standard of corporate practice. Mahler, who was heavily influenced by Peter Drucker, wrote three other books on the subject of succession, all of which are out of print. His colleagues, Steve Drotter and Greg Kesler, as well as others, expanded on Mahler's work in their writings. "The Leadership Pipeline: How to Build the Leadership Powered Company," by Charan, Drotter and Noel is noteworthy. A new edited collection of materials, edited by Marshall Goldsmith, describes many contemporary examples in large companies.[3] Most large corporations assign a process owner for talent and succession management. Resourcing of the work varies widely from numbers of highly dedicated internal consultants to limited professional support embedded in the roles of human resources generalists. Often these staff resources are separate from external staffing or recruiting functions. Some companies today seek to integrate internal and external staffing. Others are more inclined to integrate succession management with the performance management process in order simplify the work for line managers. Large consultancies, such as McKinsey, have recently[when?] focused on the broader talent issue, but most consulting support to executive succession and development practices probably comes from numerous boutique firms and retired executives in the field. The leading professional affiliation for succession-planning professionals who specialize on the HR aspect is, arguably, The Human Resources Planning Society (publishers of People and Strategy Journal at, an international association with academic and practitioner membership from around the world. The organization that approaches succession planning from a comprehensive standpoint, in addition to just HR, would be the International Succession Planning Association (

Family business
Arieu proposed a model in order to classify family firms into four scenarios: political, openness, foreign management and natural succession. POLITICAL SCENARIO: This is the case of a company linked to a large family, where it is expected that through inheritance, the property was spray quickly, possibly faster than the growth of own business, resulting in a dividend per head lower and lower. Identifying suitable members in the family can incorporate to address and possibly distinguish who may occupy the general direction afterwards. However, the existence of many members in the family can turn into conflicts of power, making it necessary to establish agreements and occasionally reorganize the business in terms of those individuals who, because of the obvious professional and human qualities can be recognized as leaders. In many cases this may mean separate reorganization to create new companies and business units.

OPENESS: When members of the next generation are numerous and among them is not possible to identify a person who possesses the characteristics necessary to assume leadership positions with expertise in family business, we have a scenario that we call Open, since the strategy more suitable for this type of organization is to shift some capital to others who can provide not only management skills but also liquidity for family members. This will succeed in securing the future of the business, creating more value for society and retention of jobs for their employees, not to please the family, getting money and avoid future complications. FOREIGN MANAGEMENT: This scenario occurs when family members who control the business are not many, and yet, not having any of its members with a natural profile of leadership succession when they choose to appoint a non-family CEO . NATURAL SUCCESSION: Families seeking to preserve its legacy business are the most favorable conditions in the presence of a stage of natural succession. This is the case of a company controlled by a few families, few heirs who in turn have identified among them a worthy successor, a strong name also is associated with the adequacy enough to drive its growth, the ability to run the organization, understanding market and commitment which means only a part of the family patrimony is also a source of value to society, other shareholders, customers, suppliers and even their own employees (stakeholders). Arieu Family Business Succession Model (Spanish)

Process and practices

Companies devise elaborate models to characterize their succession and development practices. Most reflect a cyclical series of activities that include these fundamentals:

Identify key roles for succession or replacement planning Define the competencies and motivational profile required to undertake those roles Assess people against these criteria - with a future orientation Identify pools of talent that could potentially fill and perform highly in key roles Develop employees to be ready for advancement into key roles - primarily through the right set of experiences.

In many companies, over the past several years, the emphasis has shifted from planning job assignments to development, with much greater focus on managing key experiences that are critical to growing global business leaders. North American companies tend to be more active in this regard, followed by European and Latin American countries. PepsiCo, IBM and Nike are current examples of the so-called "game planning" approach to succession and talent management. In these and other companies annual reviews are supplemented with an ongoing series of discussions among senior leaders about who is ready to assume larger roles. Vacancies are anticipated and slates of names are prepared based on highest potential and readiness for job moves. Organization realignments are

viewed as critical windows of opportunity to create development moves that will serve the greater good of the enterprise. Assessment is a key practice in effective succession planning. There is no widely accepted formula for evaluating the future potential of leaders, but there are many tools and approaches that continue to be used today, ranging from personality and cognitive testing to team-based interviewing and simulations and other assessment center methods. Elliott Jaques and others have argued for the importance of focusing assessments narrowly on critical differentiators of future performance. Jaques developed a persuasive case for measuring candidates' ability to manage complexity, formulating a robust operational definition of business intelligence.[4] The Cognitive Process Profile (CPP) psychometric is an example of a tool used in succession planning to measure candidates' ability to manage complexity according to Jaques' definition. Companies struggle to find practices that are effective and practical. It is clear leaders who rely on instinct and gut to make promotion decisions are often not effective. Research indicates that the most valid practices for assessment are those that involve multiple methods and especially multiple raters [5] "Calibration meetings," composed of senior leaders can be quite effective judging a slate of potential senior leaders with the right tools and facilitation. With organisations facing increasing complexity and uncertainty in their operating environments some suggest a move away from competence based approaches.[6] In a future that is increasingly hard to predict leaders will need to see opportunity in volatility, spot patterns in complexity, find creative solutions to problems, keep in mind long term strategic goals for the organisation and wider society, and hold onto uncertainty until the optimum time to make a decision. Professionals in the field, including academics, consultants and corporate practitioners, have many strongly held views on the topic. Best practice is a slippery concept in this field. There are many thought pieces on the subject that readers may find valuable such as "Debunking 10 Top Talent Management Myths", Talent Management Magazine, Doris Sims, December 2009. Research-based writing is more difficult to find. The Corporate Leadership Council, The Best Practice Institute (BPI) and the Center for Creative Leadership, as well as the Human Resources Planning Society are sources of some effective research-based materials.