Plan - during periods of success

What a great weekend for British sport.  First the Lions in Sydney; then Chris Froome in the Tour de France; and finally Andy Murray at Wimbledon.

It's strange how success (and failure) goes in cycles.  When things go wrong, there is a general wailing and gnashing of teeth - and wholesale changes soon follow.  A new coach; a change of regime; a call for the rescheduling of fixtures etc.  Sometimes, the desired results follow.  Often they do not.

But following a great success, there is seldom that period of introspection.  All the talk is of the early betting for the BBC 'Sports Personality of the Year'; how much a Wimbledon title is worth (in financial terms) to Andy Murray and so on.  Surely, though, an additional angle of focus should be on how the success was achieved, and how it can be replicated in the future.

The same is true in business.  When the going gets tough, costs are cut, processes are reviewed, and difficult decisions are made.  But when things are going well, even averagely well, processes that may not be the best, but which are adequate, are tolerated.  And profits are sacrificed because 'we are doing quite well'.

Succession planning is one such process that is often ignored during the good times.  Reverting to the sporting analogy, (and as a Chelsea fan, it pains me to say this), the most successful Premier League club of recent times is quite clearly Manchester United.  They had the same, outstanding, manager, for over 25 years.  He retired on a high and handed over to another, long-standing manager who behaved very correctly in his move from Everton.  It was all carefully planned and impeccably executed.  Compare that to Chelsea's (not so) Merry-Go-Round of coaches.

Professional firms and businesses generally need to learn from the experience.  Succession planning needs to be at the top of the agenda in good times as well as bad.  Ignoring the process by sticking one's head in the sand during periods of profitable growth is arguably more culpable than being too busy to address the subject during difficult times.  Either way, ignore the issue at your peril.

'Life after Boris', a fable on succession planning, is available from or from Amazon in printed or Kindle versions.



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