Linking Organizational Strategy and Succession Planning and Management

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Organizational strategy refers to the way in which a business chooses to compete.

Important steps in the process include: (1) determining the organization’s

purpose, goals, and objectives; (2) scanning the external environment

to identify future threats and opportunities; (3) appraising the organization’s

present strengths and weaknesses; (4) examining the range of strategies; (5)

choosing a strategy that is likely to seize maximum advantage from future opportunities

by building on organizational strengths; (6) implementing strategy,

particularly through changes in structure, policy, leadership, and rewards; and

(7) evaluating strategy periodically to assess how well it is helping the organization

to achieve its strategic goals and objectives.

Achieving effective linkage between organizational strategy and SP&M is

difficult for three major reasons. First, while effective strategy implementation

depends on having the right people in the right places at the right times, it is

not always clear who the right people are, where the right places are, and

when those people will be needed. Second, strategy is frequently expressed in

a way that does not lend itself easily to developing action plans for SP&M. For

instance, decision-makers may focus attention on ‘‘increasing market share’’

or ‘‘increasing return-on-investment’’—without describing what kind of leadership

will be needed to achieve those ambitious goals. Third, organizational

strategy as practiced may differ from organizational strategy as theorized,5

which complicates the process of matching leadership to strategy. That can

happen when the daily decisions do not match written organizational strategy.

To overcome these problems, decision-makers must take active steps to

build consideration of SP&M issues into the formulation of strategic plans.

During the review of organizational strengths and weaknesses, for instance,

decision-makers should consider the organization’s leadership talent. What

kind of expertise is presently available? During strategic choice and implementation,

decision-makers should also consider whether the organization has the

right talent to ‘‘make it happen.’’ Who possesses the knowledge and skills

that will contribute most effectively to making the strategy a reality? How can

individuals be developed to help them acquire that knowledge and those

skills? How can the organization establish an action plan to manage its human

assets as effectively as its financial assets? Only by answering these questions—

and taking active steps to narrow the gap between available and necessary

talent—can the organization link its strategy and its succession planning and

management.