A Vision for Succession

Without a plan, a vision is unlikely to be realized.

Vision is defined as something which invokes the imagination, often of a future that has yet to be created. The first critical step to transforming an idea into reality is to commit to a plan. It does not matter whether you lean toward a far-reaching aspirational approach, or toward a more concrete measurable goal with a defined outcomes approach, you must take the time to create a vision and define the steps to move you toward it. Without a plan, a vision is unlikely to be realized.

Vision is supposed to involve thinking big and long term: the same is true for planning business succession. Planning for succession is an important undertaking, and it is valuable to have a vision for of a successful outcome. Understanding what you want to accomplish, for yourself and other stakeholders, is important to determine at the beginning of a succession planning exercise. There are so many moving parts in the succession process, and an overarching vision of what you want to accomplish helps guide all key decisions.

Since every employee, as well as members of your family, are affected by what you intend to achieve, involving as many people as you can helps mitigate the natural pressures that come with change. By helping others to buy into the bigger vision, you will get more engagement, and increase the likelihood of success. Those involved in helping you achieve that vision require a roadmap, which is your essential plan.

But, you may find you are unable to share all aspects of your big plan. If you are undertaking sensitive negotiations with internal parties or external buyers there are often details that cannot be shared widely. It is still important for you to have a vision that you can refer to as a reminder of the final goal and to course correct when deviations occur.

A vision is the ideal endpoint around which all decisions should be considered. It helps maintain clarity and minimizes inevitable distractions. Take the time to consider your vision for the business, especially if that vision remains relevant beyond your tenure as owner. It will increase the attractiveness of the business to the next owners.

November 1, 2021

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