When you move on to another position, who will take your place? The answer may not be as straightforward as you think. Most companies today do have a succession planning system in place, it's true. But consider this: At a company I worked for, a CIO position in a critical business unit became available due to unforeseen circumstances. The business unit president asked me for help in filling the position. At our initial meeting, I asked to review the top candidates identified in the formal management succession plan. The president's response? "None of those candidates are really serious contenders for the job." And this was in a company with a well-defined and disciplined succession planning process. In actual fact, the number of times a replacement candidate was chosen from the formal system was far less than one would expect. The result was that everyone's expectations were disappointed: those who thought they were serious candidates for the position, those who assumed the position could be filled promptly from a pool of ready candidates and those who invested a lot of time participating in the planning process.
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