Archive for ◊ August, 2011 ◊

• Thursday, August 25th, 2011


Apple names former COO Tim Cook as top leader (photo: official Apple portrait)

What Steve Jobs’ resignation letter reminds company leaders to do

Although Steve Jobs’ seemingly sudden departure yesterday as Apple’s CEO comes as no surprise to technologists and business leaders who have been following Jobs’ health concerns, his announcement continues to leave the global technology world reeling.

Steve Jobs’ resignation letter: “I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and   expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come. I hereby resign as CEO of Apple. I would like to serve, if the Board sees fit, as Chairman of the Board, director and Apple employee. As far as my successor goes, I strongly recommend that we execute our succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO of Apple. I believe Apple’s brightest and most innovative days are   ahead of it. And I look forward to watching and contributing to its success in a new role. I have made some of the best friends of my life at Apple, and I thank you all for the many years of being able to work alongside you.”

The part of Steve Jobs’ resignation that is most striking to me is not the declaration of his intention to resign from his current position. I am fascinated by the immediate launch of the succession plan the company already had in place, in case of emergency, such as the departure of its Chief Executive Officer – former Chief Operating Officer at the company, Tim Cook is already listed on Apple’s website as CEO. Whether it is a health issue, corporate restructuring, or merger and acquisition, the succession plan, if constructed and implemented well, causes minimal disruption to the flow of business. A company like Apple, as the unarguable leader in global technology with the iPad, the iPhone, and iPod, cannot afford the perception of an unstable entity – there are billions of dollars in sales and stocks riding on the organization’s smooth transition.

But, how many companies or smaller nonprofit organizations have taken the proverbial bull by the horns and sketched out a workable succession plan before a major event or upheaval?

By definition, a succession plan encompasses the process for identifying current employees to fill key leadership roles in the event that there becomes a vacancy. The executed plan minimizes a lag in leadership, allays employee worries about corporate uncertainty in the midst of transition, and provides as little disruption to the production of goods and services at an organization as possible.

 Following are key issues to consider when developing a succession plan that we have used to aid clients in this daunting task:


Elements of a succession plan

  • Identify potential scenarios that would require the execution and implementation of a succession plan, such as funding changes, death, illness, corporate reorganization, merger or acquisition, physical move
  • Start with internal areas/departments that are most immediately affected by sudden change in the organization, including the executive level of leadership, customer service, human resources, program management, and fundraising
  • Assess employee knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) required to successfully handle the position, including technical skills, fiduciary and budgeting skills, knowledge of foreign languages, exercise sound judgment, and oral and written communication skills
  • Consult with department heads and employees to develop a list of individuals with promising leadership ability, their skill sets, and performance highlights to begin developing a list of potential employees to fill key roles
  • Engage the Board of Directors or Advisory Board and allow them to participate, as appropriate, in the succession planning process
  • Review your organization’s training programs and ensure that there is a methodology to capture employees’ KSAs, document them for future reference, and use them in the succession planning process
  • Conduct scenarios that enable selected staff to demonstrate skills and make critical decisions prior to transition into a new role, including managing projects, developing complex budgets and forecasts, employee supervision, and organizing a press conference
  • Document employees, their strengths, KSAs, and feedback from staff about the prospective leaders in a company database so that it can be referred to as needed to identify internal talent
  • Include a standard operating procedure (SOP) in the succession plan, so that if the plan needs to be implemented for a division with little warning, there is a step-by-step guide for selecting the employee, transitioning that person, and acclimating him to the new role

While these elements of a succession plan are not exhaustive, they will help get your organization started on the right track when developing or tweaking the plan. The most important thing to remember is that once the succession plan is cultivated, it should be available to all leadership within a company, and updated as needed.

Does your company have an outstanding succession plan? Leave a reply below to tell us about it.

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• Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

Dealing with your ‘in the meantime’ malaise

Make good use of your time while climbing that mountain!

It’s pretty hard to focus on the world around us when we are going through a challenging time, including lacking luck in finding a job. Whether it’s a job search, stagnant sales, or any of life’s challenges, we can be heavily burdened by our fear, stress, and uncertainty.

Therefore, I challenge you to alter your way of thinking, embrace the challenge, and be proactive in the meantime. You know, your in the meantime – time spent in your holding pattern until you achieve your goal. So, here are some tips for springing into action, whether you feel like it or not, to endure and thrive during your in the meantime.

1.         Volunteer

If you are looking for a job and having no luck, continue to improve your skill set by identifying volunteer opportunities. You may be involved in your home owner’s association, place of worship, or children’s school lunch volunteer program.

Participate in your high school’s career day, and speak to youth about your career successes and challenges. If the school does not have a career day, start one! You never know if it will lead to a new career opportunity hand delivered to you by a high school alumnus who has an opening at his job that matches your qualifications and interests. Even if it does not, at least you have developed organizational and interpersonal skills planning the career day that you can reflect on your resume.

2.         Improve your community

One of the best ways to shake off the sullenness is to focus on others. Use your energy to help improve your community. Whether hosting a neighborhood watch program with the local police, or encouraging neighbors to participate in a community clean up, your efforts will benefit those around you.

 3.         Educate yourself

Education does not have to be in the form of a four-year degree. You can sign up for a certificate program in your career field, or general interests. Your in the meantime allows for you to participate in a class you never made time to take while you were working, including website design or learning a foreign language. Your leisurely classes can also be an added benefit to your knowledge, skills, and abilities.

4.         Improve yourself

Your in the meantime can lead you to explore ways to improve who you are. There is now time to explore your purpose and connectedness with others. It is a great opportunity to reinstate family dinnertime, reading a book, and building relationships with loved ones.

Developing your In The Meantime Plan

No matter how you choose to make the best of your in the meantime, there are three steps to help you make the best of your decisions: conceptualize, strategize, and implement.

Conceptualize what it is you want to do or pursue, like organize a book drive for the local library or joining a board of directors. What is it you want to do? Is it a benefit to your in the meantime? Next, strategize your approach. Who should you talk to in order to get started? How much time do you want to spend on the in the meantime activity? Finally, implement your plan. It is great to identify positive ways to occupy yourself in the meantime; however, all will be for naught if you do not follow through with your endeavors.

How have you dealt with your in the meantime? Let us know in the comments section.

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• Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

Dr. Valerie Rawlston Wilson of the National Urban League Policy Institute

TODAY on The Strategy Sessions radio show, we will discuss how the American Dream has been reshaped by lagging employment, and a tenuous economy. Featured guests, Dr. Valerie Wilson, Vice President for Research, the National Urban League Policy Institute, and Megan Goffney, Executive Director of Dress for Success in Washington, DC join the discussion on jobs, The State of Black Middle Class report, the Urban Jobs Act, and how Dress for Success is meeting the needs of job seekers in the Washington, DC region.

TUNE IN LIVE at 11:00 a.m. ET:

Megan Goffney, Executive Director of Dress for Success in Washington, DC

Have questions or comments about how YOUR American Dream has changed? Call into the show (805) 285-9841 or Tweet me @KesiStribling.

POLL: How have YOU redefined the American Dream? Post your comments below.

• Thursday, August 11th, 2011

Time names the best books in business management

Time lists its pick of the top 25 business books

Time magazine has unveiled its pick for the top 25 must-read books on business management. The list, which spans publications from 1936 (How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie) through 2001 (Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t by Jim Collins), highlights some of the best-known required reading for successful entrepreneurs and managers.

Read the complete list of Time’s 25 Most Influential Business Management books

Some of my favorites are on the list, including Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey, Guerilla Marketing by Jay Conrad Levinson, and Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman.

What are some of your favorite business management books? Tell us in the comment section below.

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• Friday, August 05th, 2011

The National Urban League hosts online chat about jobs and the economy

National Urban League talks jobs, economic future

Today, the National Urban League’s Policy Institute in Washington, DC, will host an online chat about the unemployment rate and  jobs. Led by Dr. Valerie Rawlston Wilson, an economist at the policy institute, the chat will focus on three primary areas:

July 2011 unemployment statistics

The National Urban League report At Risk: State of the Black Middle Class

  • Impact of the debt ceiling agreement reached earlier this week

The online chat will be held today, Friday, August 5, 2011, 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. EST.

REGISTER for the online chat:

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