By Chris Gandy
This is the first in our series of posts each dedicated to one of the opportunities (we call them Janus Factors) that present themselves to cause-based organisations during the executive transition period between the announcement of a Chief Executive’s departure and the on-boarding of a replacement.
Over the past week or so I had a short holiday in Hawaii (had a great time – thanks for asking!). While I was away I thought it would also be a great time leave my car with Martin, a local mechanic, to give it a thorough going over. It had a few niggling problems that we just couldn’t fix because I wasn’t in a position to have it off the road for more than a day. So without me hassling him, Martin was able to take his time, do the necessary diagnostics, get the right parts in, properly test the vehicle and then voila’ – an almost new tuned-up car waiting for us when we returned (Too bad for Martin we had over spent in Hawaii – but that another tale).
There are a couple of points of this little story. The first is about seizing an opportunitiy when it arises. The second is that often our lives are so hectic a circuit breaker is needed to allow us to take stock of how we are doing, where we are going and how we are going to get there.
The same needs apply in organisations. In the normal course of a business cycle we usually attempt to introduce this process when a new strategic plan is being developed. Other opportunities arise during periods of stress such as the loss of a major contract, an adverse media incident or, more commonly, when there is a change in executive leadership.
It’s unsurprising then that one of the first steps in our Executive Transition Program is a thorough organisational assessment – an information gathering and diagnostic process which examines where the organisation sits against our Touchstones. The result of this step is a “warts and all” snap shot of the organisation’s current situation, including its strengths and vulnerabilities as well as challenges and choices for the future.
A crucial point that needs to be made here relates to the clarity of information received by a Board during the Executive Transition Program.
Without casting aspersions on anyone, CEO’s are human like the rest of us and have their own agendas, preferences and beliefs. Consequently, when they are involved in an organisational assessment these human traits come into play and often act as filters. During an executive transition period these filters are removed. No interference, whether intentional or otherwise, is run and the stark reality of the organisations current position is exposed for all to see.
Finally, one of the great specific outcomes of this stock taking process is that the Board starts to develop a sense of the characteristics of the new CEO they should be seeking to take the organisation forward. From our viewpoint in guiding this process it is fascinating to see how often a Boards vision of their ideal new CEO changes as more details about the current state of play and a deeper understanding of future challenges are brought to light.
If your CEO is contemplating leaving or has recently left, call us about our Executive Transition Program to discuss how this challenging time can be converted to one of great opportunity for your cause-based organisation.
About the author: Chris Gandy MAPS is a Director of Cause and Effective (www.causeandeffective.info) , a group of professionals dedicated to assisting cause-based organizations make an even greater impact via coaching, consultation and an innovative executive transition program.