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Premature Worrying or Advance Thinking Published: Sunday, July 26, 1998 By: Dr. Manuel Angel Morales

When we talk about succession planning we are referring to the complex process of building leadership from within. It also relates to Winston Churchill`s statement of "let our premature worrying become advance thinking and planning". One thing is to have an idea about what succession planning means, and another is to have a formal design, strategy and structure for achieving effective organizational succession. What is then a systematic succession planning undertaking? It is the structuring of a process that allows organizational key actors to follow others in time and place. Reality is that often, when facing this condition as all of sudden crisis issue, top positions can not be filled by those who are not prepared for the challenge or who do not want the responsibility. A succession plan should provide for preserving excellent performance; assuring profound leadership in key positions; strengthening individual advancement, and having the right leaders for the right positions at needed time. The challenge is for configurating a strategy to ensure healthy leadership continuity for key positions by developing actions that will build organizational brain power, if possible, from within. The formula is one of Present Talent = Future Talent. If not the organization will suffer a huge vacuum, jeopardizing its performance and legitimacy.

Moreover, continuity of talent is not limited to executive positions. It should involve all who make vital and necessary contributions to the organization. Such an effort points to a strategy for existing human resources, justifies new resources, makes it easier to contend with organizational changes, and presents alternatives while facing a new business environment. It also provides direction for long-range ventures, ensuring the best use of resources to achieve growth and development; defines goals and purposes, and prepares actors for achievement; provides professional development opportunity; and helps assess core organizational functions. If most of these actions are not taken, organizations may be pushing key people to a failure experience.

There are four main reasons for a succession strategy:

  • Identifying highly talented individuals.
  • Promoting human resources development.
  • Refining the strategic diligence and the balanced scorecard of the organization.
  • Establishing the brain and talent pool.

In times of turbulence, strategic succession management can be an excellent tool to identify how, and to whom the work can be relocated. The whole idea is to maintain or increase the standards of quality, production, service, quickness cost and profitability. This not to forget, like John F. Kennedy said, "The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining". As you can guess, there is a difference between replacement (reactive, substituting, narrow view and restricted) and a succession process (proactive, planned, renewing, aligned, flexible).


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