The other day while I was coming back home after my daily walk, my favorite shoe gave up on me .
I was saddened by this sudden event as it had become an integral part of me over the last 18 or so months.
What was, obviously, more concerning was the fact that I,now, needed to buy another pair and with no visible sale around, either on web or in the brick and mortar space, the loss was to pinch a bit more . Doing the maths around the loss and a bit of planning on the next purchase, I over came the immediate challenge of walking back about 2 kms back home. Obviously, it was not an easy walk back home as I took almost double the time which disturbed my entire planning for the next events of the day.
After reaching home, as I narrated my thoughts to the Financial Controller of my house (read wife), she helped me recall that I did make a purchase of a back up running show about 4-6 months back as I had anticipated that my current shoe had kind of lived its tenure. I rushed to my shoe rack and yes, here it was, a bright blue brand new walking shoe.
My wife didn't miss the chance to tell me that there are back ups I create for almost everything - shoe, blazer, suit, shirts etc etc. While she was being sarcastic and try to remind me this was an unnecessary habit, I was beginning to link this habit to my profession and oops, popped up the concept of one of the biggest challenge at work - Succession Planning.
These series of event was like a real event at work and a little bit of planning and foresightedness helped me to mitigate a sudden event and expense. Isn't this the succession planning which we dread so much, on which we spend hours of time to plan and more often than not it does not give the results which we always anticipated.
I think this incident teaches a lot on how should one approach succession planning
- Understand the fact that the position is critical and it will impact your daily operation significantly. This proactive realization is the trigger for planning for eventuality. If this is not there, nothing else matters
- Accepting that we are all resources and there may be various reasons for the association between the resource and the organization to cease - planned or unplanned, wishful or forced. Hence, it is important to acknowledge that how ever bright or loyal the resource holding the position is, back up is essential
- Start early and invest wisely - the backup shoe was not purchased just a week back or at MRP, it was done much early and wisely invested. The point is to first read the symptoms through data and historical analysis, understand your future needs, hire at the right time or hire early (-1 or -2 positions), train wisely through on the job or classroom
- The shoe needed just one backup for immediate future. Imagine if it was a trouser or a shirt or a blazer, you would have not just needed one back up, you may have needed more backups as it would have directly dependent on what you are wearing, occasion etc etc. So it is mandatory to plan in a way that you just do not look to have 1:1 resource ready, may be it would be good if you have 1:2 or 1:3 backup. You may never know what kind of skill or competency the situation may demand and you may allocate the right resource accordingly
- I did not have a choice but to straight away start using the new shoe. Ideally I should have started using it here and there before the old one was discarded. So, ensure that all your 1:1 to 1:3 resources get the feel of the role before hand so that they are role ready and you are also confident that they would adapt and deliver instantly. Imagine, if the shoe did not behave well and gave me a shoe sore. I would have to take precautions in using it. You would not want that and hence On the Job scenario exposure to highs and lows of the role is important
- I immediately knew the expected life of the new shoe and started thinking and planning when would the next shoe had to be bought and what kind of basis my requirements going forward. So, do not start feeling good that you had a good succession planning. Pat your back and do not get complacent, start it afresh. Keep reviewing the new person's management and growth, keep looking for new talent, keep investing. Be conscious that the business requirements will change soon and what clicked today may not click tomorrow.
Guess, if we approach succession planning in this way, we may always be sleeping (in my case walking) comfortably.
Hats off to the shoe, helped me for all the time it was my number one waking shoe and when it could no longer pull itself, helped me learn and demistify such a complicated aspect.