Succession Planning That Works

I’ve spent several years researching and writing about the difference between succession plans that fail, and those that succeed. In 2015, I interviewed over fifty executives from nearly fifty different companies to discover what has worked for them, and what hasn’t, in their efforts to grow their bench strength from within.

After about the twentieth interview, I knew I’d stumbled onto something big. Just about everyone I interviewed told me something that I hadn’t heard before – a little gem or two of lessons learned or innovative practices that can’t be found anywhere on the internet or in existing succession literature. I knew I had to keep going to collect more and more of these gems that I could share with others who want to learn how to develop a sustainable pipeline of talent.

From a high level, building a strong pipeline of talent boils down to three general principles.

  1. Executive leadership and buy-in. Succession planning must be led by the top executive, not simply delegated to human resources. This means that leadership development must be on a very short list of an organization’s top strategic priorities.
  2. Keep it simple. Organizations with effective succession plans remove everything extraneous and bureaucratic in favor of simplicity and efficiency.
  3. Follow the Critical Path. For the best chance at success, organizations must complete the right succession planning activities, at the right time, and in the right order.

I write about these principles and other little-known gems of creative and effective tactics that organizations have taken to make succession planning work for them in my book Succession Planning That Works: The Critical Path of Leadership Development.*Also included in the book are 20 free downloadable tools and templates*

You can learn more and check it out at:






For more information on this topic, check out our Succession Planning That Works Workshop Series.


One Response

  1. As a retired H.R. Manager for the Canadian division of a multi-national company I’m glad I had the opportunity to be one of the first to read your book. It is as you say full of gems but what I really liked was your step by step process. I also thought about how much easier my job would have been with 6,000 Canadian employees had I had access to all of the templates you provide. Great job. Keep up the good work.

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