Don't Plan Succession, Manage It

By Mark Vickers

"Succession planning" is not just a flawed term, it's based on a flawed business paradigm. In fact, thinking of succession in terms of just "planning" is among the top reasons most organizations perform poorly in this area.

Consider this: Improving Succession Plans: Harnessing the Power of Learning and Development, a major new study published by the American Society for Training and Development in partnership with i4cp (and free to members of both organizations), shows that a mere 14% of respondents describe their organizations' succession planning efforts as effective to a high or very high extent. In other words, most think their company's efforts are mediocre or worse.

So, why are so many study participants - there were 1,247 usable responses to the survey - so cynical about the effectiveness of their succession planning programs? The answer is simple: It's because organizations are coming at the issue from the wrong direction. They too often assume succession is a planning process rather than a crucial dynamic management task that must be integrated with the rest of the talent management system.

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