Case Study: Developing an Executive Succession Plan

How can an organization with an upcoming leadership transition best prepare now for business continuity and continued success?    

At a Glance 

Technology Services NGO

Developing a succession plan for a top executive

Consulting Project

The Opportunity 

A long-tenured executive at an organization informed the Board that he hoped to retire in the next year. The Board needed a strategy for filling the role and preparing the organization for the transition. The planning needed to be handled thoughtfully and confidentially.  

The Board needed a strategy for filling the executive role and preparing the organization for the transition.

The Solution 

We began by identifying relevant stakeholders (including the departing executive, team members, funders, partners, board members) who would provide important perspective and be important for a smooth transition. We gathered information about strategic priorities, risks, challenges, and opportunities for the organization, as well as anticipated challenges and risks with the leadership change. At the same time, we gathered information about skills, experience, and expertise that would be critical for the future leader of the organization to possess in order to meet these challenges and capitalize on opportunities. 

We synthesized this information and presented a plan to the Board that contained: 

  • Recommended candidate profile including skills, knowledge & experiences, and competencies that would be both important/critical and beneficial/nice to have 
  • Options with pros/cons/considerations for finding a replacement (e.g., growing current staff, interim replacement, closed search, open search) 
  • Operational steps with timeline to prepare for the transition (e.g., relationships with partners and funders, documentation and sharing of institutional knowledge, PR plan) 

The Impact

The succession plan was presented to the Board and approved unanimously. Both the Board and the current executive had peace of mind that there was a plan in place for future leadership transition. The new leader is set up for future success. 

“You facilitated important and hard discussions. We now have a great roadmap for the future.”

– Leadership at Client Organization