“These Five Are the Best We Can Do?”

Is your business succession any better off?

The title of this insight comes from the title of a recent Wall Street Journal commentary by Joseph Epstein, lamenting the current slate of U.S. presidential candidates.  The question for you is:  Is your business succession any better off?

These Are the Best We Can Do? The Perils of Ignoring Succession - Mike Russell

For your key roles/positions, do you have outstanding succession candidates?

Too many businesses leave the business of filling key positions until the positions become open.  That is too late.  Unfortunately, succession is often perennially in the business “to do” list but rarely acted on, much less consistently.

The time to prepare and position candidates is in advance of the opening. For the most important roles, preparations should be ongoing and involve several layers of future candidates.

Succession is also not just a matter of casting a vote or picking someone for a business role.  For businesses and presidential politics alike, the candidates reflect the overall system of candidacy … who is a candidate is in large part determined by the total “system.”  How well does your system work?


  • What do your succession candidates “say” about your business?
  • Do you have a strong and consistent flow of excellent candidates for key roles?  If not, is this creating significant risks?
  • What aspects of your “candidate system” need changing?
  • What can you do to start changes in your area of responsibility right now?


By Mike Russell