Electric Energy Workforce Strategies: The Future Was Yesterday!

by: Tom Casey, Managing Principal Discussion Partner Collaborative with Sean Casey Director of Communications Military & Veteran Affairs Comcast NBC Universal

As we plan for the future, there are two demographic challenges that will have to be addressed simultaneously:

  1. The accelerated desire of Baby Boomers to retire, many of whom may remain in the workforce, but not as full-time employees
  2. The painful awareness on the part of Generation X executives that the dreaded age of 50 is imminent, prompting the likelihood that company/role changes are being contemplated “before I get too old”

Boomer Executive Transitions
Discussion Partner Collaborative began researching and providing Advisory support on Executive Transitions in 2013 primarily focused on creating a “soft landing” for both the senior leader and their company when the “Boomer” retired.

Both DPC’s research and client work, with now over 500 executives, suggest a much more generous interpretation of the word retirement is long overdue.

The reality is that most executives, while leaving full-time employment, remain engaged in myriad capacities such as interim executives, Board members, advisory endeavors, educators, and entrepreneurs.

Given the executives now feel “in control of their life and calendar,” they engage in two to three endeavors usually on a part-time basis.

Discussion Partner’s best-selling book on this topic, Executive Transitions-Plotting The Opportunity!, was reprised with a new book in 2019, Executive Transitions 2-Leveraging Experience For Future Success!

Aging Dilemma for GenX
Beginning in 2016, via our research and advisory work in the Succession Planning/Executive Transitions area, we became aware of a significant risk to enterprise sustainability and engagement.

The identified concern is the pre-supposition of most Succession Plans that the pipeline of internal candidates from the Generation X cohort, will remain robust.

DPC experience has concluded this degree of comfort is misguided.

In the strongest possible terms we suggest companies not presume longevity of Generation X executives as a given. Our validated premise is as Generation X executives spy age 50 on the horizon, there is an overt desire for change. This is not due to unhappiness with their situation; moreover, it is the concern that when they hit this mystical age, their career trajectory options diminish.

The above is more prevalent in larger, well-established companies, where the executive has been associated for approximately 10 years. However, DPC has also seen in our Advisory work the same phenomenon in sectors such as Life Sciences and Technology where tenure as a rule is short lived.

The need to reflect and plan is now being “down-aged” (late 40’s to early 50’s) to encompass long serving incumbents whom began working with their present employers at an early age.

If you put yourself in the position of one of these incumbents, a thought process encompasses the following:

  • I started with this company right out of school
  • I am 48 years old
  • I like the company they have been good to me
  • I like my role and feel I am making a contribution BUT!!!!
  • I wonder what it would be like to work somewhere else AND!!!!
  • I need to decide new before it is too late

For those of us in our 60’s 48 is young.  However I would assert that none of us felt that way when we were 48!

The inherent problems with the above reflections are a) the employee may leave a good situation, just for the sake of leaving and b the company is at risk of a brain drain at the nexus point of identification of future leaders and sustainability.

Engagement surveys, while informative, do not drill down sufficiently beyond are “are you happy now”?  In addition those whom are struggling with this dilemma are most likely reflecting privately.

Discussion Partner’s in researching our recent book Inflection Points-Risk Readiness Failure Fearless on career decision points began to become aware this phenomenon.

DPC perceived the issue to be a serious risk to our client population who have longer-serving employees. Consequently using the mantra of “it is better to be supportive than short-sighted” we have been piloting a Coaching interdiction with several companies whom fit the above profile.

The offering Trajectory Advisory Service focuses on asking and answering the question for those in their late 40’s with approximately 10 years enterprise tenure, “is this company and role sufficiently challenging and engaging that you want to stay?”

DPC began piloting this offering in mid-2016 and have worked with 90 clients to date.

The findings are 10-fold based upon the admittedly modest sample:

  1. 100% of those with whom we worked admitted to having given “serious thought” to making a change
  2. 100% of those with whom we worked although initially skeptical appreciated the proactivity of their company providing resources to assist in their decision making
  3. 90+% were applying loose criteria to their thought process focused more on “now” vs. “where or why”
  4. Approximately the same % felt the restraint on making an informed decision was due more to “what if I don’t like it” vs. the transition being a sensible career move
  5.  81 of the 90 clients decided to stay with their present employer
  6. The 9 clients with whom DPC worked on a “soft landing” whereby the company was able to secure a replacement in advance of separation and the departing member was supported in their search (search firms, references, time to interview etc.)
  7. For those 81 whom have chosen to remain each was provided an enterprise supported Engagement Driver as a “safety valve” to reinforce the prudence of their decision making
  8. The range of “Drivers” encompassed new role, new location, NGO participation, Commercial Board sponsorship, paid sabbatical, education, reconfigured work hours as well as some innovative solutions
  9. None of the 81 clients received additional nor special compensation for what I would invoke as the obvious reasons

The #10 Finding from the Pilot is that 65% of those with whom DPC worked indicated they would have left in large part due to curiosity and feelings of intellectual stagnation.

The overarching conclusion DPC derived from this effort to-date is that organizations that have the above profile are best served by being proactive, supportive, and sincere in working their incumbents or run the risk of being controlled by vs. controlling their Talent Readiness posture due to unanticipated and undesired departures.

The Ongoing Priority of Building The Bench
In our Leadership Effectiveness work, Discussion Partner Collaborative has concluded that any attempt to avoid the need to a) build a bench within the enterprise and/or b) manifest reluctance to self-assess incumbent aspirations, is self-defeating.

Perhaps it’s the feeling of lacking control that has made succession planning—the continuity and transitional aspects of this effort in particular—such a hot topic these days. After all, it’s human nature to want to contain the uncertainties in life while maximizing the opportunities, as contradictory as that may seem!

Urgency” would be a fair characterization of the feeling our clients have expressed towards the holistic succession planning process.

If you accept DPC’s conclusion that your organization’s future will benefit from a deep-dive review of its Succession and Continuity planning processes taking into consideration the “age 50 paradox” we believe your Talent Readiness position will avoid unpleasant surprises.

Notwithstanding pre-existing protocols, we are suggesting this review encompass the most generous interpretation of processes concomitant with experimental and disruptive solution sets.

I. What skills sets will we need beyond domain proficiency to have a sustainable growth oriented enterprise?
II. How does our current population of Leaders and Future Leaders compare to these desired attributes?
III. How can we develop and/or hire sufficient numbers of people to address deficiencies in the above?
IV. What is the true nature of our Leadership bench in respect to Readiness?
V. What is our contingency plan to be deployed if necessary?

In 1964 The Who recorded the song My Generation, containing the famous lines “hope I die before I get old!”

Dr. Lynda Gratton of London Business School last year published The 100 Year Life, a now best-seller in Europe.

Reconciling the contradictory thematic is straightforward. Executives want challenge and a feeling of relevance in addition to longevity. While logic suggests that 50 is not in of itself a career crossroad, it is one of those ages where reflection is normal.

DPC’s suggestion is to accept the realities of aspirations of both Boomer and Generation X cohorts, and plan accordingly. It is better to channel the dialogue than be surprised by a decision.

My colleagues at Discussion Partners and I would strongly urge an elevation of, and renewed attentiveness to, Succession and Continuity planning as a priority!

Notwithstanding pre-existing protocols, we are suggesting this review encompass the most generous interpretation of processes concomitant with experimental and disruptive solution sets.

Our recommendation is driven by results of a recent completed study DPC conducted with 1800 C-Suite participants.  The survey was on the topic of envisioned enterprise challenges. 91% of those surveyed indicated “the ability to attract, motivate, and retain top talent” as their #1 concern.

Discussion Partner’s has been conducting this annual Pulse survey since our founding in 2007.  The intensity of the above concern, while always “on the list,” was never #1until 2018. The rationales expressed in the anecdotal justifications are compelling inclusive of envisioned shifting demographics, new worker expectations, disruption of organization models, competitive pressures, globalization, and ineffective human capital practices.

Our recommendation is further reinforced by a review of the recent literature on this topic.

  1. The historically low US Unemployment Rate
  2. The strategic imperative for talent depth to be an asset vs. liability, referenced in consolidated research on Leadership Succession/Continuity, most recently a series of articles in McKinsey Insights, HBR and Sloan Management Review
  3. The Point of View that has emerged from our 2018 Advisory work that 2019 represents an opportunity to use a “Disruptive Organization Model” for talent processes overall and Leadership matters in particular

As further justification for this recommendation the following foundation is provided.

  • Dr. Noel Tichy in his recent book Succession asserts that without proactive planning on how to fill, and inventory of talent well in advance of leadership, and/or key role “vacancies”, the chance of success is below 50% for replacement personnel.
  • Ram Charan in his book The Attackers Advantage and HBR articles offers the following (paraphrased) –Leaders (Directors, Owners, CEO’s) who excel at selection are willing to expand the lens in how they look at the capabilities of reporting levels beyond performance track record to the 2 to 3 interwoven predictive behaviors that will be necessary for success.
  • The following 2018 data points are from various sources (Booz Allen, McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group, Hedrick & Struggles, Korn Ferry and Saratoga Institute)
      • Team Building and Empathy are as important as Performance for promoting enterprise success (often stated infrequently realized)
      • 55% of the Fortune 500 Boards of Directors have expressed dissatisfaction with the Succession Planning processes of their enterprises including the CEO replacement approach
      • A study of the 2500 largest companies on the planet indicate that inefficient Succession Planning on average results in $1.8B losses during transition
      • Underperformance does not incent change 45% below peer group by sector correlates to only 5.7% probability in change of leadership
      • 39% of the Fortune 1000 Boards indicate “no viable candidate” to replace the CEO compelling a similar % undertaking external hires which Charan stipulates as “highly unlikely to be successful”

DPC’s conclusion “Succession Planning takes years not months” leads us to recommend the following steps:

  1. Senior level stakeholder interviews focused on “beyond task proficiency” what are the essential differentiating qualities that will be needed for success
  2. Comparative Inventory of Leaders (broad based) and high potentials in relationship to these attributes
  3. Embed into developmental and hiring strategies the lessons learned from this exercise
  4. Creation of a Critical Constituency Depth Chart whereby the following is highlighted
    a.  Identification of 1 ready now replacement
    b.  Identification of 2 possible replacements
    c.  Identification of external Search capabilities to be deployed in emergencies and/or
    lack of “ready now” sense of urgency
    d. Assignment of non-senior leaders a “personal growth and  development task”
    similar to the GE “popcorn stand” to provide additional evaluative foundation

The New England Patriots have a mantra of “do your job,” promoted by Coach Belichick. 6 Super Bowl wins indicate the validity of this philosophy.  DPC’s above suggestions represent process steps that should be presently underway and if not, a sense of urgency should exist.  DPC would substitute the words “do the job you should have been doing all along!”

Additionally, we would embed the following questions:

I. What skills sets will we need beyond domain proficiency to have a sustainable growth oriented enterprise?
II.   How does our current population of Leaders and Future Leaders compare to these desired  attributes?
III.  How can we develop and/or hire sufficient numbers of people to address deficiencies in the above?
IV.  What is the true nature of our Leadership bench in respect to Readiness?
V.   What is our contingency plan to be deployed if necessary?

From whatever vantage point you occupy, the future will be dynamic.  As a suggestion, borrowing a title from a previous book by Dr. Tichy on the topic of leadership Control Your Destiny-Or Somebody Else Will!

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Going Last Can Also Be Fun!

by Tom Casey, Managing Principal Discussion Partner Collaborative

I have been on the road since May promoting our most recent book, Executive Transitions 2- Leveraging Experience For Future Success! with speeches in the States, Europe, and South America.

My traveling companions are CNN and BBC, while following the news I have also been focusing on the 50-year commemoration of Woodstock.  I remember the “Live Action News” being broadcast at the time of the event as well as the movie when it first came out.

One of my recollections from the movie, and a lesson learned transitioned to my speaking engagements is “no way do you want to go last”!  I remember Jimi Hendrix insisted on going last, as the wont of most musicians, and played on a Monday morning to about 1/3 of the concert attendees and many vendors picking up the garbage.

For those of you who give speeches and presentations, you know the best “slot” is the Keynote, or on a Panel with people who don’t argue with your data set or point of view.

Last is not a desired spot as you are often presenting to a smaller group whom if attending are holding the handles to their luggage ready to bolt for the airport.

I did learn a trick that has helped when circumstances dictate that last is your slot.

I was home in Boston, during a time when a National Association was holding their annual meeting.  Coincidentally I was at their hotel for another meeting when a friend who was on the Association Board came up to me with the words, “Tom, our closing speaker can’t get out of Chicago due to weather, can you speak”.  The man is a good friend, and so I agreed, reluctantly!

My intro was an apology, “I am sorry to be your back up speaker and even more sorry that Steven Tyler from Aerosmith was unavailable: but if you all stay to the end I will lead you all in singing Dream On”.  They stayed, we sang, much to the surprise of the hotel staff the harmonies didn’t suck!

I had a more recent experience where due to a delayed flight my slot was bumped to last.  The audience was kind enough to stay, albeit with their carry-ons close by their side.

In my apologetic opening I suggested if they could bear to stay through the speech I would lead the group in the Queen song We Are The Champions!   Surprisingly they did stay, most likely out of curiosity.  I did lead the group in the song, including the clapping foot stopping opening.

Never let it be said that a group of Industrial Psychologists can’t sing in harmony or eschew playing air guitar!

Preference is just that…. it is ones comfort zone, circumstances oftentimes are uncontrollable, unless one adapts.

I have been speaking and presenting on various topics for decades, and have learned that audiences, clients, colleagues, and peers with few exceptions want to hear what you have to say, and appreciative of your effort in sharing insights.

As advice I would however, pick a song, practice your air guitar, be flexible and hold all in the ready to avoid the Woodstock moment of smaller audience and a lot of garbage.

 

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Pilobolus – A Collaborative Nirvana

by Tom Casey, Managing Principal Discussion Partner Collaborative

The Below Blog Was First Published in April 2014.  The Pilobolus Dance Ensemble Continues To Enthrall Audiences As They Approach Their 50hh Year!-Given the need for Collaboration as a necessity vs. option DPC thought it was an opportune time to re-forward.


The term Pilobolus refers to a fungus whose spores propel with extraordinary speed, accuracy, and strength…..it is also a creative Dance company founded by Dartmouth College students in the 1970s!

The Dance Company has survived and prospered on a global scale for 45 years incorporating innovation, education, and creativity!

My wife and I attend many Dance company presentations from Ballet through Modern platforms.  Yet the recent performance of this troupe in Boston was unlike any we have ever seen.

The degree of collaborative precision and feats of strength were magnificent to behold.

The 6 dancers are incredibly strong, and flexible. Your emotions range from envious wondering how come you’re 3 times a month visit to the gym for 30 minutes does not have a similar outcome.  In addition, but certainly not least you sit in wonder questioning whether or not their skeletal frameworks are calcium or silly putty based.

Unusual for us, we decided to stay to participate in the cast post performance Q&A.

The conclusion we drew, and the derived lessons learned for commercial enterprises were three-fold.

  1. Each member of the company was encouraged to contribute to the choreography process regardless of tenure, or role….it is not a “leader led only” organization
  2. Each member of the company felt a degree of ownership due to this approach therefore raising their already high level of accountability for and proficiency in the performance
  3. The mutuality of respect and encouragement raises the level of creative input, excitement and innovation

This feedback from the Company was unambiguous in respect to the above creating a “community” or “family” feeling.

How they approach their craft has many lessons learned for commercial enterprise leaders! The scary truth based upon Discussion Partners advisory experience is for the most part global leaders are slow learners as it relateds to collaboration.

The five principles that DPC reinforces when speaking or facilitating on the topic of Collaboration were present in abundance during the performance.

  1. Clarity Regarding Roles
  2. Exhaustive Preparation
  3. Mutual Trust
  4. Creative Input Encouraged Regardless of Tenure
  5. Shared Mindset for Success Delineation

What the experience also underscored is that in collaborative processes, EGO IS THE ENEMY!!

If not why are we so challenged in the commercial sector to achieve collaboration beyond lip service and generous self-serving interpretations of the word?

What was most compelling in the Pilobolus experience is for Collaboration to be achieved their shared mindset was, egos must be minimized, engagement maximized, respect optimized, and mutual trust epitomized.

Among many of life’s mysteries, one that hopefully we can resolve soon, and Pilobolus has, is how to translate the abstract thinking as to how Collaboration can be achieved moving it to reality from aspiration.

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Facing the Reality of Reality!

by Tom Casey, Managing Principal Discussion Partner Collaborative

It has been a difficult period for tolerance in the United States.  It’s apparent our political landscape is anti-immigration to the point of building a wall across the US southern border even when the consequence is a government shutdown and restraints on sufficient labor to address business opportunities.

In the US we are still reeling from the Charleston shooting and Charlottesville white supremacist march, the reactions to which have aggravated the racial tensions.  Religious intolerance is visible as well in the US with the Pittsburgh Synagogue bombings and assault on the Mosques in New Zealand.

Police reactions to racial relations are strained and satirized by comedians venturing:  “The only way to avoid being shot is a) don’t wear a hoodie; b) don’t be big . . . and don’t be black.” Somehow, we think this is funny!

It is easy to be cynical when we hear the words “black lives matter” and respond: “all lives matter.” Yet our reality is much different. The progress of the #Me Too Movement does not appear to have made much of a difference in racial relations.

Years ago, there was a TV series called LA Law which some of you are old enough to remember, if not there is always Hulu.

In one episode defense lawyers compel a judge to recuse himself from a trial of a black defendant and presented him with statistical evidence of his decisions and sentencing outcomes being blatantly racist.

If presented with such evidence, one would expect the character (or in real life someone who feels they are open minded) to be defensive.

In this episode, the judge did the right thing and recused himself. He was self-aware enough to know he was not self-aware.

We are all intolerant to a degree. This trait is not part of our DNA but a learned behavior. The question before any individual believing himself to be racially tolerant is twofold:  a) how do you know if your self-image of tolerance is delusional; and b) what do you do if faced with your subconscious intolerance?

We were fortunate to find an executive who was willing to share his experiences. What is of particular interest is this executive previously held Congressional office and was known as an advocate for tolerance on all levels.

Executive Interview
During my formative years I was privileged.  Consequently, my personal philosophy and points of view about race relations, immigration and other issues were based on reading, discussions, not experience.

I always thought of myself as tolerant regarding people who were different whether it was race, political orientation, sexual preference, etc.

Unfortunately, I was wrong….

I was giving a speech out of state and got lost on the way back to the airport.

This was in the days before I-Phones. Lost meant lost.  I had an associate with me who was driving the rental car.

We wandered into a distressed neighborhood and stopped to get our bearings.  I noticed three young men of color not far away whom were clearly aware of our presence.  We were unsettled.  They started walking toward us; and in an attempt to drive away, we crashed the car.

They kept coming . . . actually now running. When they got to us, they said: “Are you guys ok?” “Do you need some help?”  They could not have been nicer. They got us to the airport, arranged for a rental car company. They were great.

Flying back home, I could not help thinking about how scared I was and why.  Clearly it was the neighborhood, the circumstances and more importantly, the three young men being black.

I asked myself this question: Even in a rough neighborhood, if they were white, dressed in khakis wearing IZod shirts, would I have reacted the same way?  

Clearly not….

What also got my attention was when I relayed what happened to others. Their response was disheartening as they commented: “I would have been scared too.” Also, “you got lucky.”

When I look back on that event, I realized that even with a narrow definition of the word, I am a racist.  It shook my self-image and now I try to be mindful of ‘who I am, not who I thought I was’.

The question before me at that time and now is to channel this awareness, minimizing the damage it can cause and maybe even using the awareness to do some good.

The openness of the Congressman was refreshing. His candor allows for the derivation of forceful questions:

  • We are all intolerant of some things or many things, but how do we address challenges to our self-image when confronted?
  • When we are confronted with our true beliefs or tendencies, we can behave in one of two ways:  Ignore it or attempt to channel it in appropriate ways. But how do we respond?

Self-awareness is an asset; self-respect, an aspiration; self-direction, in a positive way, an obligation even when it challenges who you really are as a person.

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Even Monkeys Fall Out of Trees

by Tom Casey, Managing Principal Discussion Partner Collaborative

Given the geo-political dynamics of 2018, 2019 portends to continue to be a roller coaster ride!The dynamics of 2019 make it hard to be sanguine regarding the future.  Geo-politically, economically, and commercially, it is a struggle to maintain a degree of certainty.

DPC has been fortunate for five years to work closely with a large global consumer products company. In a conversation with one of their Tokyo based executives he referenced the Japanese saying “even Monkeys fall out of trees”!

The saying is prophetic for many reasons, among which is relevance to the turbulence forecasted for this year.

When you contemplate the saying, your intuitive reaction is to think, “poor Monkey”, while conjecturing “what does the Monkey do now”?

There are a number of options:

  1. NFL Penalty – this is when the Monkey becomes a drama student insisting “what me” similar to the Oscar performances one sees among penalized Defensive players
  2. Woe Is Me – this is when the Monkey looks for an audience who embraces their self pity
  3. Blaming The Tree – whereby somehow the tree moved without informing the Monkey
  4. Paralyzing Indecision – “not sure trees are for me, maybe I should learn to swim”

A Monkey being a Monkey, they realize the tree is their home and the most conducive environment for their success.

However, what becomes the new post fall reality, do they wear a parachute, strap themselves to the tree, or accept the ambiguities of existence while exercising an abundance of caution?

As we progress further into 2019, accepting the ambiguity associated with the turbulence leaves two avenues for pursuit.   One can play it safe, or accept risk and go for it!

2019 will compel us to metaphorically self assess, what type of Monkey do I want to be?

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Building the Bench It Takes Years To Get it Right!

by Tom Casey, Managing Principal Discussion Partner Collaborative

Given the geo-political dynamics of 2018, 2019 portends to continue to be a roller coaster ride!

As we entered 2019 and updated our “resolutions” from new to carry forward, my colleagues at Discussion Partners and I would strongly urge an elevation of, and renewed attentiveness to, Succession and Continuity planning as a priority!

Notwithstanding preexisting protocols we are suggesting this review encompass the most generous interpretation of processes concomitant with experimental and disruptive solution sets.

Our recommendation is driven by results of a recent completed study DPC conducted with 1800 C-Suite participants.  The survey was on the topic of envisioned enterprise challenges. 91% of those surveyed indicated “the ability to attract, motivate, and retain top talent” as their #1 concern.

Discussion Partner’s has been conducting this annual Pulse survey since our founding in 2007.  The intensity of the above concern while always “on the list” was never #1until 2018. The rationales expressed in the anecdotal justifications are compelling inclusive of envisioned shifting demographics, new worker expectations, disruption of organization models, competitive pressures, globalization, and ineffective human capital practices.

Our recommendation is further reinforced by a review of the recent literature on this topic.

  1. The historically low US Unemployment Rate
  2. The strategic imperative for Talent depth to be an asset vs. liability referenced in consolidated research on Leadership Succession/Continuity most recently series of articles in McKinsey Insights, HBR and Sloan Management Review
  3. The Point of View that has emerged from our 2018 Advisory work that 2019 represents an opportunity to use a “Disruptive Organization Model” for Talent processes overall and Leadership matters in particular

As further justification for this Recommendation the following foundation is provided.

  • Noel Tichy in his recent book Succession asserts that without proactive planning on how to fill, and inventory of talent well in advance of leadership, and/or key role “vacancies”, the chance of success is below 50% for replacement personnel
  • Ram Charan in his book The Attackers Advantage and HBR articles offers the following (paraphrased) –Leaders (Directors, Owners, CEO’s) who excel at selection are willing to expand the lens in how they look at the capabilities of reporting levels beyond performance track record to the 2 to 3 interwoven predictive behaviors that will be necessary for success
  • The following 2018 data points are from various sources (Booz Allen, McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group, Hedrick & Struggles, Korn Ferry and Saratoga Institute)
    • Team Building and Empathy are as important as Performance for promoting enterprise success (often stated infrequently realized)
    • 55% of the Fortune 500 Boards of Directors have expressed dissatisfaction with the Succession Planning processes of their enterprises including the CEO replacement approach
    • A study of the 2500 largest companies on the planet indicate that inefficient Succession Planning on average results in $1.8B losses during transition
    • Underperformance does not incent change 45% below peer group by sector correlates to only 7% probability in change of leadership
    • 39% of the Fortune 1000 Boards indicate “no viable candidate” to replace the CEO compelling a similar % undertaking external hires which Charan stipulates as “highly unlikely to be successful”

DPC’s conclusion “Succession Planning takes years not months” leads us to recommend the following steps:

  1. Senior level stakeholder interviews focused on “beyond task proficiency” what are the essential differentiating qualities that will be needed for success
  2. Comparative Inventory of Leaders (broad based) and high potentials in relationship to these attributes
  3. Embed into developmental and hiring strategies the lessons learned from this exercise
  4. Creation of a Critical Constituency Depth Chart whereby the following is highlighted
    1. Identification of 1 ready now replacement
    2. Identification of 2 possible replacements
    3. Identification of external Search capabilities to be deployed in emergencies and/or lack of “ready now” sense of urgency
    4. Assignment of non-senior leaders a “personal growth and development task” similar to the GE “popcorn stand” to provide additional evaluative foundation

 The New England Patriots have a mantra of “do your job” promoted by Coach Belichick. 8 Super Bowl appearances and 1 upcoming indicates the validity of this philosophy.  DPC’s above suggestions represent process steps that should be presently underway and if not, a sense of urgency should exist.  DPC would substitute the words “do the job you should have been doing all along”!

 Additionally we would embed the following questions:

I.      What skills sets will we need beyond domain proficiency to have a                         sustainable growth oriented enterprise?
II.    How does our current population of Leaders and Future Leaders                           compare to these desired attributes?
III.  How can we develop and/or hire sufficient numbers of people to address           deficiencies in the above?
IV.  What is the true nature of our Leadership bench in respect to Readiness?
V.    What is our contingency plan to be deployed if necessary?

From whatever vantage point you occupy, 2019 will be dynamic.  As a suggestion, borrowing a title from a previous book by Dr. Tichy on the topic of leadership Control Your Destiny-Or Somebody Else Will!

 

 

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Executive Transitions – Meaningful vs Relevant

by Tom Casey, Managing Principal Discussion Partner Collaborative

2019 is a transition year for many Boomer Executives whom will be reaching the milestone age of 65!

Granted the “70’s something” Stones, Ringo Starr, and Paul McCartney are still touring and Robert Redford at 82 is still a box office draw.

Regardless the magical age of 65 remains a threshold, as it was the age when most of our parents left the work force.  At the time however, after they got their gold watch, took a cruise, there was not much meaning or life left based upon actuarial tables and cultural norms.

Discussion Partner’s launched our Transition Advisory Service offering in 2013 after the publication of our book, Executive Transitions – Plotting The Opportunity!

Since that time we have worked with now over 500 executives in a variety of sectors on creating the “soft landing” for the company derived from and organized Succession Plan and executive via a structured approach for thinking about “what’s next”.  Our experience over the last five years will be summarized in our next book due out in May tentatively entitled Executive Transitions – Looking Forward In The Rear-view Mirror!

Recently, in our client work DPC Advisors have been struck by the level of satisfaction differentiation between Meaningful endeavors and their contribution to feelings of Relevance.

DPC Advisors have concluded that Meaningful endeavors independent of their seriousness of purpose nor value contributions are in and of themselves insufficient unless they also foster a feeling of Relevance.  The concept of Relevance is when the Executive also feels that their effort is contemporary and appropriate to the times.

This is not a suggestion that one focus is more important than the other; moreover fulfillment via Meaningful work is achievable and embraced by Executives. However DPC’s conclusion is that there also needs to be a focus on contemporary or Relevant work to optimize a feeling of continued sense of self.

There are two areas we suggest be considered as the journey begins!

Securing Relevance During Transition

Regardless of age, enterprise tenure, or post departure endeavors, DPC in our client work has found that there are three common denominators that if front of mind, contribute to a feeling of connectivity.

We have labeled the “top 3” as Next Generation Engagement Drivers as follows:

  1. Edgy – the ability to engage in activities that challenge intellectual curiosity via continued acquisition of knowledge and adjunct expertise
  2. Control – the ability to have as much as possible total control over calendar and focus of activities
  3. Purpose – the ability to continue to promote personal brand and be recognized as a domain “expert” regardless of future setting via engagement in contemporary activities

Many executives “can’t wait” to get started on the next phase of life while others are somewhat fearful.  Both constituencies need to be mindful that the tenure of one’s life as Dr. Lynda Gratton in her most recent book The 100 Year Life, is elongated requiring us to be sensitive to the nuances associated with how, and where we spend our post-transition time.

The position take by DPC via our research and client work is that the more organized the pre-departure thinking, and awareness of possible outcomes the more likely the executive will be comfortable with “what’s next”!

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