Succession Planning: Do it before you need it!

Some lessons are learned the hard way. That’s kind of stating the obvious, I know.

Today I want to share some experiences around the topic of Succession Planning.

How Compression Planning can help with Succession Planning

One of the applications I’ve heard many people use Compression Planning to address is the topic of Succession Planning.

I led a session for a friend where we addressed their succession planning needs as a part of their strategic planning session.

The two questions we asked during our time together were the following:

  1. What are the key components of our business that need to be a part of a successful Succession Plan?
  2. Ways to help the Executive Director refine the components of that plan

It was a two-person non-profit organization with a “working board of directors.”

Succession Planning is something we all probably think of at some point…maybe something along the lines of “Yeah, I know I need to do it and someday, I’ll get around to it…but I’m young and immortal and I won’t be dying any time soon so I have plenty of time.”

When I took over the business two years ago, I told myself I’d get a succession plan in place so if Stephanie had to take over leadership of the business, she’d have everything she needed.

A few weekends ago I had a bit of a wake-up call.

I found out I am deathly allergic to bee stings. (first draft had ‘was’ instead of ‘am’ as I’m still here to write about it!).

Thankfully I had an Epi-pen at home (2 miles away) and a friend who drives like Mario Andretti.

The EMTs had a hard time getting a blood pressure reading and I was in and out of consciousness.

Kind of scary.

The only part that made anyone smile was apparently I told the EMTs my name was Pie.

I do like pie…apple, cherry and peach.

I’m not sure what would have happened if the kids hadn’t come inside and found me. I try not to think about it too much.

What I do think about is:

“What is my responsibility to Compression Planning and everyone
who has made it part of their personal and professional lives?”

I have the blessing of carrying the torch that was passed to me two years ago from my dad.

While I plan on holding that torch for a few decades, I need to be smart about having everything ready to hand off to someone in case of the “unthinkable” – which for me means a bee sting, shrimp cocktail or guacamole!

I’m addressing three areas personally and I thought it would be helpful to open this up to everyone who has done succession planning.

This is going on the blog so if you have any additional input, please share them so others can learn from all of our collective efforts.


Years ago we led a session helping an organization prepare for significant growth.

We looked at their business from three viewpoints.


  • What are the people issues we need to consider/address?


  • What are the product issues we need to consider/address?
  • What are the service issues we need to consider/address?


  • What are our processes we need to consider/address?

That’s pretty generic but in a nutshell, the questions we asked fell into those three categories.

The People/Plant/Process session was designed to address exponential growth.

I think the three categories, however, work well for Succession Planning – not only identifying the next generation of leadership, but also preparing them (and the business) for that certain transition.

The headers Stephanie and I will be focusing on are the following:


  • Who is responsible for what in the delivery of Compression Planning services? (Business Development/Managerial and Operations/Delivery)
  • Who are the vendors and what are the specifics associated with each Vendor?


  • What are all the materials needed to deliver a Compression Planning Institute?
  • What are all the materials needed to deliver a Compression Planning session? (facilitation)


  • What are the steps taken to deliver a Compression Planning Institute? Pre/during/post
  • What are the steps taken to deliver a Compression Planning session? Pre/during/post
  • What are the day-to-day operational items that need to be addressed?
  • What are the financial obligations that need to be addressed on a weekly/monthly/quarterly basis?

There will be more we will address…but these are a good starting point.

Please feel free to add your suggestions and headers you’ve used in Succession Planning in the comments on the blog!

Best Compression Planning wishes,

Pat (and Stephanie)

p.s. – It is scary to think about what happened. I have an appointment with an allergist next Tuesday and hope to get some insights/answers as it is not just bee stings but also some foods that are causing this.

I’ve also been averaging close to one Design Alert daily over the past few weeks which has been a lot of fun. It always amazes me how you all are using Compression Planning and the changes you are realizing as a result.

I want to make sure that Compression Planning outlasts me…just like my dad wanted it to outlast him.

Thanks to all of you who have invested in learning Compression Planning and sharing how you are impacting your part of the world. It is a treat to share these stories with my kids and it helps them understand why their dad spends time away from home.

Your “next generation” of Compression Planners (if that is the route they choose!).
Stephanie, Lauryn, Logan, Blake and Pat McNellis

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply