Peek into The New Lens of Succession Planning

Insights on Succession Planning from our recent Lunch and Learn Session

Having worked with several clients over the last few years to successfully build their talent pipeline, the feedback and questions from HR teams as well as industry best practices have guided Accendo to adopt a fresh perspective on Succession Planning. We would like to share this new lens we have adopted, and help companies navigate Succession Planning in today’s fast-moving digital landscape.

The general gist of Succession Planning is to find the right people to fill the right roles. It comes to play in ensuring continued business and service to our customers. A recent example of its impact is when Disney’s stocks dropped 2% after an unexpected CEO succession and a key executive member moved to another company. This goes to show how serious an impact succession planning or the lack of thereof has on business continuity and shareholder value. 

Understanding its importance especially in times of crisis, explore the hidden costs of poor succession planning here, Accendo recently conducted a virtual lunch and learn session as part of our month-long Succession Planning campaign. Speakers of the webinar include the host, Ashvin Nair, the Head of Market Insights in Accendo, Dhamiri Petra, former Korn Ferry consultant and Head of Client Insights, Thanesyah Ravindran, the Head of Insights, as well as our guest speaker, Ramya Balakrishnan, the Head of Talent & Performance Management in Maxis, who has worked with organisations such as Dell, GE and Unilever. In the webinar, the speakers covered the following topics:

  • Succession Planning and the New Lens
  • Job Roles and its Shift
  • Potential and how to Connect the Dots
  • Key Takeaways


The concept of Succession Planning has been more and less the same since the early 1980s. We have all heard the cliché line “if you work long and hard enough, that corner of the office or this position could be yours someday,” but now the idea of joining a company as a fresh graduate and staying for 20 years is unheard of. Furthermore, all too often Succession Planning is seen as a priority, but tends to fall off the agenda. Only during the time of talent councils, do organisations start planning successors. This is where the big disconnect is, where Succession Planning is stuck between intent and action. How then can we make Succession Planning a more constant and continuous process in the current landscape?

90% of respondents ranked Succession Planning as “important” and above however 46% don’t have a structured plan for dealing with vacancies.

Succession Planning can be viewed from 3 main aspects – People, Job Roles, and Potential. For this session, as HR and organisations are most familiar with the first element – their People, the discussion will delve into the latter two (Job Roles and Potential.

A picture containing mirror, basketball, game

Description automatically generated

Aspect 1: Job Roles and its Shift

The constant in Succession Planning is about identifying talents for the next job. Now, jobs are changing constantly with the rise of automation, technology and AI. Companies are compelled to change job roles to adapt, or else they get left behind. Some jobs may become redundant while others may change the way they work. 25% of jobs are already currently experiencing high levels of disruption and 47% of jobs will vanish in the next 20-25 years. 

However, jobs are still very much relevant. The shift is that changes are happening at an accelerated rate. 33% of new jobs created did not exist 25 years ago. With new jobs, new skills are needed. Before, skills could last our entire career (20-30 years) but because the change in jobs happens frequently now, skills are also changing frequently, with most skills lasting only 10 years or less. By 2022, 54% of workers will require significant upskilling or reskilling. This now means that the ability to reskill and upskill has dramatically increased, leading to a focus on talents who can adapt and are willing to learn and grow. 

Hence, with regard to Succession Planning, the approach needs to change to reflect the future we are moving to. With constant change, gone are the days of succeeding based on tenure. It is now about whether talents have the right stuff – competencies for the future and the ability to upskill. With jobs constantly changing and going digital, talents need to be agile and adaptable, and Succession Planning needs to go through the same. 

Aspect 2: Potential and how to Connect the Dots

With the need for a new and flexible way of running succession planning, Accendo has been challenging the consulting-heavy approach of Succession Planning of the past. By combining technology and digitisation, it allows for the democratisation and transparency of Succession Planning for all levels in an organisation. To achieve a successful outcome, it requires the following crucial elements: 

  • Job Architecture: While jobs are the first focus area of Succession Planning, skills are now treated as the main currency. Organisations need to create a job architecture framework with all the skills and competencies in a central depository. This allows organisations to better understand and gauge the organisation’s skill level as they grow. Having a future proof and relevant job architecture is important not just for Succession Planning, but the talent life cycle as a whole.
  • Technology: Succession Planning involves a lot of time and money. Technology is the catalyst for scalability across the organisation. Utilising technology as compared to doing things manually and without structure, for example in trying to craft new roles or evaluating the talent pool, makes it easier and more efficient. 
  • Measurement and tools: One common mistake that organisations tend to make is simply replacing old tools with new ones, for example, replacing one assessment provider with another. However, this does not address the root problem. Rather than having multiple tools in silos, it is the integration of various measurements that unearths meaningful insights and achieves a holistic view of talents. 
  • Outcome: Based on experience, most organisations run Succession Planning with a lot of focus on performance and most recently potential as well, which they then plot against a 9 box to identify top talents and discuss these talents.
A close up of electronics

Description automatically generated

While not wrong, it may not necessarily be effective in the current digital and changing landscape, especially when trying to move outside the box. The new approach is to plot the skills needed for each unique role. Instead of grouping experience, skills, competencies as silos, it is about focusing on the interplay of it all and measuring them as an amalgamation to gain a holistic view of talents against a specific role. 

A screenshot of a cell phone

Description automatically generated
A screenshot of a cell phone

Description automatically generated

By building a powerful job architecture framework and implementing integrated measurements through the use of technology, it will provide talent insights to drive clear development gaps and identify risk areas. As a result, HR will have clarity of organisation’s capability to drive business strategy and needs while employees will have the clarity to drive their career growth.

A screenshot of a cell phone

Description automatically generated

Key Takeaways

To wrap-up on the new lens of succession planning, here are some key takeaways: 

  1. Keep Succession Planning real-time: The biggest mindset shift needed is to keep Succession Planning real-time and frequent. It cannot be a once or twice a year occurrence during talent councils. We need an understanding of where talents are at this point in time and how they are progressing to be able to respond to situations in an agile manner. 
  2. Leverage on Technology: It is harder to scale across levels, but how can leaders/HR ensure to build a leadership pipeline across the organisation? Technology answers this by enabling scalability and real-time succession planning on top of providing the right data and insights.
  3. Keep it transparent: Succession Planning does not look only into a certain set of roles. It should also involve career development while matching skill sets to talents. Rather than focusing on specific people who may not even stay on within the organisation, keep everyone informed while building a sustainable talent pool with respect to where the organisation is in terms of talents, skill sets and learning capability.

Comments are closed.