Succession planning? Not very sexy is it? Planning for the day when you retire, die, get fired or pushed aside in a boardroom coup. Yet it’s essential. All organisations need someone to take on the mantle of the person that started, founded or built it up from nothing.
So why do companies chose family members to do the work? Why is it “Somebody and sons” on the label. Why do they believe the children have the ability that their parent had?
And it’s not just companies. Take the Monarchy, the oldest “firm” in the UK. We’re going to get Charles at the helm of his mother’s “empire” at some point soon. Sooner rather than later if we were to believe reports earlier this week that the queen was, in fact, dead. But is he up to the job? He’s 71 at time of writing; an age when most people would be looking to retire. But they are well looked after these royals and seem to go on forever. Queenie is 93 and Phil “the Greek” is 98. Unless of course they have been replaced by look-alikes sometime in the early 2000s?
But I ask again, is he up to the job? Sure he’s been brought up to take on the role, with perhaps the longest apprenticeship in history, but all we know about him is he’s a tree-hugger, and critic of modern architecture and an adulterer. But what is the role anyway?
As an aside, today we find that Eddie Stobart’s trucking business is in trouble. Eddie gave up the business to his sons in 1989 and since then they have done the usual company shit: expanded, contracted, sold bits off and floated as a public company. Now we have two members of the family fighting over what is the best plan to stop a collapse. Plans being decided over by shareholders that, typically, don’t give a toss about anything other than their dividend.
Unions have called it “bandit capitalism” and investors have offered to help with a loan with a 25% interest rate. Talk about wanting their pound of flesh.
Perhaps the whole idea of succession planning should not automatically include family members, or whether they want to the same school, or came from the same social class? Perhaps all positions should be decided on merit alone.