One of the first steps in effective succession planning is to gather in one place all of the institutional knowledge stored in the current generation’s head. This may seem like an impossible task, but the process itself will pay big dividends for this generation and for those in the future.
This is different from a conventional succession plan, which often focuses solely on the larger issues. At least initially, this is a nuts-and-bolts exercise. But as it develops, this is an ideal Topportunity to capture important family and business history, as well as key operational information.
The information that should be gathered from this exercise is:
- Key contracts
- Bank accounts and bank contacts
- Customer contacts and preferences
- Legal, tax and accounting information and contacts
- Key management
- Emerging leaders
- Those being developed
- Third parties
Individualized Succession Planning
There is no “right” format for this exercise. As with many things relating to succession planning, the real value is in the process itself — thinking about it, getting something down on paper, and then communicating the information to family and key management. This effort is sure to lessen the disruption inherent in any generational change – especially a sudden one.
Future posts will share insights from families who have discussed and fine-tuned their “hit by a bus” plan annually over several years.
Bill Weigand provides strategic counsel to businesses, particularly in the food, agribusiness, manufacturing, and distribution industries. Many of Bill’s clients are multi-generational, family-owned businesses. He takes the time to learn the nuances of each client’s business and tailors his advice accordingly. Contact Bill at 206.757.8164 or BillWeigand@dwt.com.