Developing Next Generation / Succession Planning

When I was a child, there was a master of backgammon. We were playing day and nights. Of course, one special day became then I start to beat him. He has told me that if this is an art, junior should beat the master to keep the art developed and moved on. If business is one kind of art, our successors must be better leaders, more innovative ones to keep business going. That is the reason I focus on developing next generations with well prepared succession planning.

There are of course multiple ways to reach talents. Many corporations always think about tapping into leaders’ market and finding the best one. One classical way is to hunt them in the external market however I still do not believe in the power of interviews 100%. There is no way you know the person with series of interviews. You have to experience it. However, philosophy of living for human being is always focus on external. We think that external things are better and will make us happy. Once we internalize them (e.g. money, people, loved ones, …), they start to lose the importance and we focus on new externals. This logic in hirings brings us to the situation that we should look at the market to find the best successor. That can be true in some cases like getting know-how to the company, different view, culture, …etc. We should not forget that there can be hidden leaders within our corporation as well. Our HRs should focus more on how to revitalize them and make them visible within the company. The world will be definitely talent -driven. You can check my writing about meritocracy up as well. Our goal must be how to reach the talent/information. All these technological developments say only one thing. Information will be the key for next generation. Who knows the best will be the most valuable. However to find the qualified information will be the hardest.

The thing what makes the company good or profitable is only employees. You can do anything with qualified people. Sometimes you have unlimited money but that is not enough to make things done. If this topic is that important, succession planning and developing new leaders should be the first focus for Next Generation CEO. That is a continuous process. Let’s say that you have all your management people set. It does not mean everything is done. You should continuously need to do succession planning to make sure the business is moving in case of change.

Now, we can talk more on how to do part. First of all, you need to determine the critical positions within organizational hierarchy. There can be a rating to determine which role is how much critical. After that, you should create two different pools; "ready now” and “future-ready”. How to retain "ready now" employees is one aspect to be worked on. Developing next generation is "future ready" employees. Your focus should be closing the gap in manner of competency for these future ready people. To do that in efficient way, I suggest that every company needs to create “Acceleration Pool”. The purpose of the pool is to understand, evaluate, and prepare for future talent needs. Talents who is future oriented need to have future-proof competences and owning his/her career. This pool is an accelerated development for next generation leaders. All the trainings, real life experiences, problem solving need to be designed and developed for this tool to make sure our executives are succeeded. Use this pool with full meritocracy and utilize this in key roles within the company.

Next generation executives should be brave to reshape the leadership culture, increase the available talent, level of engagement and entrepreneurialism within not only in companies, actually in whole life. So there will be no more discussion around diversity and other things. Whoever has the highest competency based on company / institution needs, will take the position and focus again on next generation of themselves. This is the scenario to make business an art.

Hakan Özdemir

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