Succession Planning Strategy in a Lean Environment


Succession planning is an important part of a corporate business strategy that can often be challenging to implement in an efficient manner. Succession planning recognizes the talent and skill set needs of a company to ensure that business processes can continue operations into the future. It also recognizes that the top talent people of the present can be the top talent people of the future working in positions of more authority. It is a viable process that is used to help companies manage the future of their top talent. Growing talent from within is a significant step in building bench strength for companies. The inability to implement a good strategy that can withstand the test of time can result from the following:

  • • Inability to maintain the skilled staffing needed.
  • • Strategy is too aggressive to implement.
  • • The strategy is written on paper and not communicated.
  • • Lack of leadership support and commitment.
  • • Lack of buy-in from employees.

Another activity that can be added to this list is the implementation of Lean thinking and process improvement tools. Once Lean process improvement enters the picture, employees often will begin to ask questions such as the following:

  • • Is the company in trouble and in need of a reducing cost?
  • • Are we heading for a layoff?
  • • Are our jobs stable?
  • • Will my position be retooled to the point that I will no longer be valuable to the company and the process?
  • • Will I be laid off?
  • • Without a job, what will happen to my family?

The benefits of implementing Lean within a company is highly recognized and embraced by corporate leaders. Numerous companies have cited benefits at all levels. However, many times Lean improvement initiatives are not always successful because the people aspects of the process are not addressed early on in the process. Succession planning is a key business process that can be significantly impacted by implementing Lean if not focused upon.

There are various changes in business processes that will facilitate the need for succession planning. These activities can include the following:

  • • Changes in corporate business strategy
  • • Changes in technology
  • • Knowledge retention
  • • High-employee turnover
  • • Implementation of process changes
  • • Restructuring of the organization

Managers in various disciplines and fields depend on succession planning to ensure the availability of technically competent workers. Engineering managers also depend heavily on succession planning activities to ensure the availability of highly skilled engineers to support projects that are necessary to fulfill their customer requirements. No matter what type of business you are engaged in or leading, succession planning is an integral part in achieving goals and protecting the bottom line for the future.

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