The fall travel season has started. I find myself at the Toronto airport with a little bit of time to post. I have been reading Peter Cappelli's book "Talent On Demand". It is well worth reading. It gives a nice historical perspective on why we have the talent management practices we have today and why the assumptions that underlie those practices have changed significantly, leaving conventional wisdom wrong in many cases. I found one particular passage around succession management extremely illuminating:
"We do succession planning to an unbelievable degree. But once we do it, we don't use it. Never have we received a senior vacancy and looked at the succession plan. It's almost done as just another tick in the HR box"
One reason that succession plans do not work, at least for executive jobs, is that the events that trigger them --usually dismissal-- signal that the organization wants to move in a different direction with the next hire: "We do not want someone like the last guy." And succession planning is designed to produce candidates who look more or less exactly like that last guy...
Does that ring true for your organization? I imagine that it would for most HR professionals. Succession plans that are tied to individual characteristics or that do not change as the organization direction changes are not particularly valuable. Like much of talent management, the use of succession management software is only as good what goes into it. If you do not define the right characteristics for key positions (and adjust them regularly as the organization evolves) or do not develop broader talent pools that can be slotted into multiple critical roles, then a lot of time and effort can be spent on succession management with little results to show for it.
What do you think? Is succession management worth the effort? Is it better to not plan and fill needs as they emerge with a talent pool made of internal and external candidates?