Handing over the reins – successful succession

Successful Succession

Great deliveries are very much like running a relay race. Depending on your business, it is fairly likely that your business has a value chain in delivering to your customers. In that value chain there are logical baton hand-over points from team members to the customer. The more we are able to see that delivering good results is like running a relay race, the better our service or products will be.

But – and this is a capital letter “But” – we must also realise that the handover points are the weak, and the strong, links in the chain. How often have you run your heart out only to arrive at the handover point and the person receiving the baton is on a tea break! Or missing. Or the handover is clumsy and the baton gets dropped. Or even worse, you have to keep running because there was no one there… to arrive at the next handover point and…

Yes, I would agree that succession and handing over the reins is more about handing over the captaincy of the relay team than just handing over the baton. I would suggest though that the more you and your team practice succession and handing over the baton on a day to day, or week to week basis, the better. It needs to become slick and smooth. It allows everyone to feel valued and appreciated, to contribute. so that when the leader moves on to another race – which will happen one day – there is still a well-trained team left to continue the legacy.

As a program manager, I have handed over many deliveries to business departments during, and at the end, of projects. If we aren’t adept at this, we can very easily drop the baton, the race ends, and the solution never thrives in the world.

How many projects have you completed where no time was planned for post implementation review? You need at least 3 to 6 months, depending on the impact of the change, to ensure business benefits realization. This is why change management activities ought to extend way beyond the end of the “project”. In my world, however, we would normally have run out of money at this point. It really is like stopping a race half way through. When you hand over the baton to business resources, remember that for those team mates who have just received the baton, the race has only just begun. So too when handing over the reins of one’s business to the next generation.

For sustainability and successful succession, I suggest you plan to stick around for a year or two and teach everyone to run like a slick relay team so that when the BIG change comes – as it will – they have the skills and trust in each other to just keep on a runnin’.

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