Thoughts and such like.....
So I'm packed and ready to go - feeling sooooo excited! First off to Ottawa, so had to pack some sober clothes as I'm presenting on Succession Planning in Non Profits. Then my friend Christine is flying in and we'll be staying with another friend of hers for the weekend and exploring Ottawa! This will be the start of Christine and Maeve's Excellent, Amazing Adventure. Off we go then to Boston to meet Number one son who graduates from Berklee, I'm so proud of him! We'll spend a week with him, enjoying Boston, eating and probably drinking a wee bit, but most of all celebrating his success - he also graduates on his birthday - surely a good omen.
As you can see two half empty suitcases! I'll just have to do a little shopping. Suitcases have some books, along with my e-ready, sometimes I just have to feel the paper in my hands. Bringing my knitting, I have a top I took apart as it was knit in the round and too short, I need to have it a quite a bit longer, however since it is on round needles it means I won't poke my neighbour on the plane!
One of the things I like to do before I travel is to put new sheets on my bed so that when I come home I have beautifully fresh sheets that first night tired after travelling. It's one of my peculiar foibles.... we all have them. Another is to put a fresh set of clothes into my hand luggage, along with my toothbrush and face wipes. I've lost my luggage so often over the years that I now try and ensure I have something to sleep in, clean my face and teeth and change into the next day...
I seem to be talking to a lot of people about Succession Planning and it appears to me that like death and taxes, it's not something people, particularly people at the top of an organization want to think about. Why not? I've come to the conclusion it's a bit like death and taxes, we don't want to think that far ahead, for some it's frightening, a step into the unknown, others think 'why rock the boat', I'll/we'll think about it when we have to.
Who should think about Succession?
I believe that both the Board and the CEO should be responsible for, and worry about Succession and yes, it should begin with a capital, it is that important. There should be both an Emergency plan, for three months or less, and a plan for when it's time for goodbye.
One of the reasons I believe that these conversations are happening now, is the number of changes taking place at the top of many organizations - some have been somewhat clumsy, with games of musical chairs at the top, others seem to have got it right, but have they, how many organizations do you know that after the long tenure of a CEO, there seem to be a number of individuals rotating through the CEO's office over a short period of time. A succession plan can help smooth the transition from one leader to another.
When should we think about Succession planning?
As soon as possible, it's easy to put it off when things are going well, however that's probably the best time to develop your plan? If you're in the middle of transition, or you are playing musical chairs - it is not too late, however you need to start straight away, don't go blindly into picking another leader without being absolutely sure of what/who you are looking for. Some of the questions that should be asked include:
What are the attributes that we are looking for in our next CEO?
How will we go about the search for a new CEO - by ourselves/using a search firm?
What is our timeline?
Time must be spent reviewing who we are and what we are looking for. Each Board orientation/annual review
must include a review of the Succession plan to ensure that it follows the current needs of the organization.
Succession planning is not a once in a while operation, it must be part of Board work and should be part of the Board's fiscal responsibility. It is also important for the Board to have it's own Succession plan, asking who will be following us in guiding our organization? It is also the responsibility of the CEO to ensure that not only does the Board have a CEO Succession plan, but also that she/he has a plan for the organization in the same way - what happens when a key staff member decides to leave, who can carry out those responsibilities while they search for a new colleague.
So if you're serious about Succession planning and need to start, or review your plan, let's talk.
Maeve O'Byrne's Blog