Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Succession Planning

Today I learned a new term: succession planning. Apparently, this is a phrase people in the business world know, but I bet I'm not the only educator who's never heard it before. As teachers, we don't usually have a successor. The classroom is not usually much of a breeding ground for bureaucracy, after all.

While the ESD where I work isn't much of  bureaucracy either, we do have important leadership positions. People have been committed to those positions for a long time, which speaks to the vision and culture within the agency, but soon our superintendent, the leader who's responsible for much of that vision and culture, will be retiring. Succession planning is what organizations do to figure out how to fill shoes like that.

This got me thinking about succession planning in other parts of life. We love our dog, but we've already begun looking at other breeds that might be suitable for our family after our dog passes on. I have plans for storage of keepsakes down in the basement because I know, at some point, I'll want them off the shelves but not in the garbage. How will I pass my work on to someone else if I move to a different position or back to the classroom? Even my spring bulb bed was planted with succession planning in mind. The crocuses are in front then the daffodils then the tulips then irises and dahlias. So, as the early blooms in front die off, the next ones come right up behind them. I like the idea of being prepared and having a plan in place for when things turn over, but I have to wonder where the balance lies between future planning and present living. How much energy do we spend on succession planning before it becomes a fixation that distracts from things that are happening right now?


  1. It's a new term for me! I get the concept and it makes such good sense. I can see how it would be easy to get obsessed with the idea and miss the present. I guess to keep it from happening we must notice and we be aware and then try not to over think.

  2. In international schools things are different and, if we are doing things well, we are always thinking of ways of having things ready for our successor (though I had never thought of it in those terms). We change countries and schools every few years. Every year new teachers come in who are new to the country, culture, and school. Orientation is not just figuring out the curriculum, but also learning where to buy bread and water. 'Successor training' will come to mind as we plan for the next folks.

  3. I had never heard the term either. I suppose we all do it to certain extent without really thinking about it. Your question is a good one: how much time and energy do we devote to planning for the future and at what cost? I think that is one of the things I really appreciate about SOLSC. I have had to slow down and take a look at, and appreciate, the moments I am living right now.

  4. ^ Great point Amanda. SOLC has been such a great challenge for focusing on the now. I think I need to find an even more specific point. How far forward do I need to plan while still planning and living in "the now"? As it is, I live about 2 days ahead of my schedule, but I know I need to be farther than that. All a game of balance I guess.