Succession planning has always been an important discussion topic for every thoughtful or “planful” retail company. However, with the paradigm shift taking place in the industry, the importance of the process and of making it more than talk has become critical for several reasons. Not only is the current generation of retail leadership retiring in large numbers, the likelihood is that this attrition will continue well into the next two decades. Tie this basic reality to a noticeable lack of prepared talent to fill these critical vacancies, and the current retail business readjustment will continue on its own path with few to influence where that path leads. With the decline in executive training and professional development programs, as well as the changes in leadership profiles (from merchandising to marketing, from marketing to digital), the industry is sure to face continued drift and dislocation.
Once executive leadership in a company understands that a deliberate succession plan is a necessary part of the total strategic planning process, they will next face a process that’s much different from the succession planning processes to date. So what’s so different now?