In his recent blog, my partner, Roger North, shared about our three-year journey of developing and executing an ownership succession plan for North Group. He aptly noted that this process “took time, energy, and a few engaging disagreements.” Roger is right – it required time. Not just blocks of time here and there, but also “seasons of time.” We asked crucial (and sometimes hard) questions of ourselves and each other, allowed our emotions to wax and wane, gained shared understanding, and grew our trust in one another. Looking in the rearview mirror, this was exactly what was required.
But beyond the essential elements of time and intentionality, succession planning needs to both “honor the entity” and set the next generation up for success. Succession planning stands on three primary pillars:
- A profitable business with a healthy leadership culture.
- Current owners that are committed to the transition and to creating opportunity and space for the next generation.
- A “next generation” of leaders and owners that possess or are developing the characteristics and skills that the business needs for the future.
As we have navigated our own succession conversations at North Group, regular and honest assessments of how we were doing in each of these areas was required. When we found any one of them lacked the required strength, we had to take action. Ignoring or “hoping” it would get better on its own was not an option.
If you are contemplating a future leadership and ownership transition, start by asking yourself and your team, “How solid are these three pillars?” Take the time. Ask the hard questions. Disagree. Trust each other.
We would be privileged to help you both assess and strengthen each of these pillars as you move toward your organizational transition.