As we have been discussing, strategic planning and succession planning are two different long term endeavors that have many similarities. In my previous post, we looked at the differences in the goals and scope of these two very important leadership and management initiatives. So that we can achieve even more clarification between these two, we will consider the focus and term of strategic and succession planning and how they differ.

If you have a succession plan you have a strategic plan because the Succession Matrix®considers strategic planning one of the ten interdependent factors essential to a complete succession plan. However due to the difference in scope of these two endeavors, it is important to remember that just because you have a strategic plan, you do not necessarily have a succession plan.

Although a facilitator is needed for both of these similar endeavors, the background and perspective of a strategic planner and a succession planner are very different. A strategic planner’s primary prerequisites are an understanding of the operational circumstances of the industry, understanding of an effective strategic planning process (there are multiple approaches) and strategic planning experience which will provide much needed leadership to a group that generally wishes they were back on the job versus hanging out in the boardroom for a couple of days. In contrast, a succession planner must have a journeyman’s understanding of each of the factors of the Succession Matrix® including strategic planning as well as an understanding of the interdependent nuances of all the factors. The behavior, knowledge and experience expectations are much higher for a succession planner. At any given time the succession planner can be put on the spot regarding any issue from one of the ten factors of the Succession Matrix®. Although succession planners are typically an expert on one or more these factors, they do not have to be an expert in all the factors. However, succession planners must minimally have sufficient knowledge and/or experience with all factors to be conversant and in the absence of expertise, know where to go to get answers. Moreover, the succession planner carries much greater responsibility because they must personally have or have access to specialized core competencies that can effectively address all issues identified by the succession planning process. 

And finally, the term of Strategic Planning considers a time frame of two to ten years or as far out as resources can be confirmed. In the absence of confidence in forecasted resources, setting goals is no more than visioning and strategic planning is a waste of time that could otherwise be spent in the development and confirmation of resources. In contrast, the term of succession planning is ultra long term; a cross generational consideration of 30 plus years that speaks to continued success through the next generation of owners and managers. And there you have it, the similarities and the defining contrasts between strategic planning and succession planning.

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