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CEO Succession: It’s a Process, Not a Plan

As the saying goes, “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” In the case of succession, an unexpected CEO vacancy can throw even a healthy organization into disarray.

After thorough assessment, viable internal candidates should be identified according to those competencies and should be provided detailed development plans. Additionally, interaction between those internal candidates and the board should increase, providing the board first-hand visibility and experience. Benchmarking internal candidates against the market is critical and may result in recruiting externally to strengthen the bench. If this information is consistently reviewed, the board is able to act quickly and confidently in the event of an unanticipated transition.

Defined Roles
Several people, and groups of people, play critical roles in the CEO succession process. The Nominating/Governance Committee is responsible for managing the overall process. With a planned succession, the board and CEO share responsibility until one year from the anticipated transition, at which point the board assumes sole responsibility. At the appropriate times, the HR, Legal and Communications departments play key roles in candidate assessment and development, regulatory filings and announcements, respectively.

The bottom line is, transitioning from one CEO to the next is a complex matter, particularly when a board is faced with unpredictable circumstances such as McDonald’s. An ongoing process, starting immediately after a new CEO is appointed and reviewed every six months, will benefit an organization immensely. Effective succession planning is no longer expected, it is required.

As recent history proves, boards will be held publicly accountable for succession success or failure. The board’s ability to calmly and quickly appoint the right successor will propel the company forward with confidence.



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    Steve Rutan and Denise Harrison have put together an afternoon workshop that will provide the tools you need to address these concerns.  They have worked with hundreds of executives to develop a systematic approach that will enable your team to make better decisions during strategic planning.  Steve and Denise will walk you through exercises for prioritizing your lists and steps that will reset and reinvigorate your process.  This will be a hands-on workshop that will enable you to think about your business as you use the tools that are being presented.  If you are ready for a Strategic Planning tune-up, select this workshop in your registration form.  The additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

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    Golf Outing

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