C H A P T E R 1 1 ASSESSING ALTERNATIVES TO INTERNAL DEVELOPMENT

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The traditional approach is to prepare successors for key positions internally.

Some descriptions of succession planning and management (SP&M) treat it as

nothing more than a form of replacement planning. In this process, several

key assumptions are usually made: (1) key positions will be replaced whenever

a vacancy occurs; (2) employees already working in the organization—and

often within the function—will be the prime source of replacements; and (3)

a key measure of effectiveness is the percentage of key positions that can be

filled from within, with minimal delay and uproar, whenever a vacancy occurs.

Some organizations add a fourth: the relative racial and sexual diversity of

replacements should be enhanced so that protected labor groups are well

represented among the qualified replacements for key positions prepared internally.

A systematic approach to SP&M has major advantages, of course. First, it

makes succession predictable. Each time a vacancy in a key position occurs,

people know precisely what to do: find a replacement. Second, since a high

percentage of successors are assumed to be employed by the organization,

investments in employee development can be justified to minimize losses in

productivity and turnover.

However, when SP&M is treated in this way it can occasionally become a

mindless exercise in ‘‘filling in the blank name on the organization chart.’’

Concern about that should be sufficient to lead strategists to explore innovative

alternatives to the traditional replacement-from-within mentality. This

chapter focuses on those alternatives—and on when they should be used instead

of the traditional approach to SP&M.