The Ugly Words: Succession Planning


The Ugly Words: Succession Planning


Everyone is interested in how this is going to be done, who’s involved and the timeline yet no one wants to discuss it. Succession planning for everyone else, oh that is a great idea. Succession planning for me? Oh, that-not such a great idea.

In order to expand into new responsibilities, each executive leader must make daily progress coloring in their succession plan.

The What?

Let’s start by talking about what it is. Succession planning is a process for identifying and developing internal people with the potential to fill key business leadership positions in the company. Succession planning increases the availability of experienced and capable employees that are prepared to assume these roles as they become available. Are we talking about replacing someone? Not exactly. We are talking about movement of leaders and employees within a company to optimize that company for future success. Usually this means lifting up employees and existing company leaders into even more visible roles. Occasionally, this means moving people out of roles or out of the company, however that is the exception.

Worth Your time?

We all have three goals: individual, team and organizational goals. The challenge is that each leader has a different weighting on each of these goals. The weight can shift depending on internal and external company factors.

Individual opportunities will not welcome you, unless you have clear succession planning. OK, what is the first question your leadership will ask you? “Who’s going to do your job?” Thinking ahead is essential to planning your next personal career move whether that is inside or outside your existing company.

Team opportunities grow when team members believe they can depend on their team. Vacation, getting sick and unforeseen personal challenges are all facts of life. They impact the top performers and the lowest of performers. How do you get ahead of this? How is communication enhanced to allow team unity when the leader is not there? Answer: You must delegate. It’s never comfortable and is always required for success. Part of leadership is standing on top of the known and unknown risks and being comfortable in the ‘new normal.’ This ‘New Normal’ is a fast paced environment that challenges your norms and resets them.

Organizational opportunities stem from your knowledge, former and current position held and your relationships. Thinking ahead and anticipating organizational needs shows that you value the company and have the best interest at heart. For some C-level executives this won’t mean much. However, for the ones that you want to be working with, they will internalize this and realize that you stand out.

How Do You Start

Positioning your organizations leadership for business success is your job. Each executive leader has a responsibility to do their part to ensure the business is sustainable.   Actively managing succession is key to achieving strategic viability. Below are five key steps to ensure you are positioned for your next role and you have done your duty to setup yourself, your team and your organization for future success.

  1. Set Imperatives Required For Success
  2. Identify Critical Roles Required to Achieve the Business Success
  3. Forecast Future Leadership Capabilities
  4. Conduct Talent Reviews
  5. Reinforce Development Plan Creation and Execution
  6. Monitor Progress Against Success Measures

Research done in this area has found that 52% of employees report they were approached by another employer with a possible job offer within the past 12 months.

Be assured the great leaders in your company, the ones you depend on for those critical priorities get approached more often!

In spite of its importance, succession management is not well-executed in most organizations. What steps have you taken in the last 30 days for succession planning of your organization?


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Peter is a healthcare business and technology executive, recognized for Digital Innovation by CIO 100, MIT Sloan, Computerworld, and the Project Management Institute. As Managing Director at OROCA Innovations, Peter leads the CXO advisory services practice driving digital strategies.

Peter was honored as an MIT Sloan CIO Leadership Award Finalist in 2015 and is a regular contributor to on innovation. As Head of Information Technology, Peter was responsible for Connecticut’s Health Insurance Exchange’s (HIX) industry-leading digital platform transforming consumerism and retail oriented services for the health insurance industry. Peter championed the Connecticut marketplace digital implementation with a transformational cloud-based SaaS platform and mobile application recognized as a 2014 PMI Project of the Year Award finalist, CIO 100, and awards for best digital services, API, and platform. He also received a lifetime achievement award for leadership and digital transformation, honored as a 2016 Computerworld Premier 100 IT Leader.

Peter has a B.S. in C.I.S from Bentley University and an MBA from Quinnipiac University, where he graduated Summa Cum Laude. He earned his PMP® in 2001 and is a certified Six Sigma Master Black Belt, Business Relationship Management Professional (BRMP) and Certified Scrum Master. As a Commercial Rated Aviation Pilot and Master Scuba Diver, Peter understands first hand, how to anticipate change and lead boldly.