Re: Succession Planning

Wiggo Hustad (
Wed, 07 Sep 1994 13:04:19 +0200

>Hi from Denis Cowan:
>A request:
>One of my clients, I normally do T & D type work for them, has a problem
>with what they have described as succession planning. At the moment I am
>not being paid to help on this, they are addressing it internally.
>However by providing info. to them I hope to get further work. despite
>this mercenary perspective I would still appreciate any info. anyone has.
>The issue:
>They are a governement organization which has a number of regional
>offices. They have just upgraded, advertized and filled the regional
>management jobs. Unfortunately the have filled them with the previous
>occupants, who are not generally seen as effective by their peers, senior
>management and their staff. This happened because the current occupants
>are seen as the best of a poor lot.{
>Management does not want to be in this situation again. When the current
>crop of managers retire in a few years, they want to have a range of good
>peopler to replacre them. The replacements are to come from insoide the
>organization. They have termed this a succession planning exercise.
>Requirement: This is not my area of expertize, so any info. appreciated.
>What should they do?
>Is succession planning the answer?
>Does it still exist as a concept ?
>What would a learning org. do ? (They would not currently perceive
>themselves as a learning org>
>Any help appreciated
>Denis cowan
>PS I will post this messgae to other lists as well
Hi Denis !

I have just entered the learning-org world web, so this is also a test on
how things work. My background, former org.development consultant, now
researcher on org. learning and ph.d. candidate working on knowledge
producing processes and their outcome.

To your questions. It is hard to give you any answer without having more
details on the organization in question. My basic point of view is that if
people are regarded as ineffective, that is what they will become.

Some hints (or questions):
Does the present management have a common understanding of present and
future challenges ? If not MENTAL MODELS and BUILDING SHARED VISION.

Are "junior" staff, with their present skills able to fill tomorrows
challenges ? If not, training programme - PERSONAL MASTERY

Can present regional management hold some vital knowledge, despite their
"ineffectiveness", that the org. should store for future needs ? If so,
experience transfer processes could vitalize them for the rest of their
periode and at the same time extend the org's present and future knowledge.
I very much will recommend a look at the concept of Action Learning (ref.
Reginald Revans). TEAM LEARNING

As I understand the org. in question is a bureaucracy. An interesting remark
my ph.d. advisor (prof. Audun Offerdal, University of Bergen, Norway) made
some time ago pinpoints the dilemma in such organizations: they are by
definition limiting the personal freedom for any employee or manager, i.e.
they are rulebased. At the same time this rulefollowing behavior inhibits
learning, i.e. there are no incentives for changing local rules or overall
policy outside local rules. keywords are freedom, responsibility -> learning

Hope you find some of this useful. Send some words in reply.

Best regards,

Wiggo Hustad
Western Norway Research Institute