Here’s our new terminology to replace “Business Succession”.

by IdeaTransfer on May 22, 2011

“The King is dead!  Long live the King!”  You have heard the proclamation in books and movies.   Sounds confusing at first, doesn’t it?  It means the old king has died and the new king is crowned—implying a king is a king as far as the country is concerned.  But if that’s what succession means, then the word is all wrong for businesses.

Forget exit strategy.

First of all, who said anything about dying?  Second, who said anything about exiting?  Entrepreneurs we know aren’t the type who die before their time—too much optimism for that.  And never retirement—they’re looking for the next challenge, not the nearest exit.

We may be stuck with “business succession” for awhile because it is part of the language.  So is “business continuity”, an equally misleading term.   The business is not going to continue as is.  It is going to change—rapidly and dramatically or it will not survive, let alone thrive.

Sure there is a thread to the vision, mission, philosophy, and standards, but all these element change in response to changing consumer needs, quality measures, technology adoption, economic conditions—and usually change for the better.

We want to introduce new terminology now so it will grow on you.  Let’s start by eliminating exit altogether and  replacing business succession with business evolution.

Successor is not a job title.

Founders should not be looking for a prince who will carry out the king’s edicts for another generation.  They should be looking for someone who can take the company to the next level.  Someone who masters the knowledge, forges strong relationships, and leads by staying in front.

Let’s phase out the term successor and bring in the word that really describes these skills—Adapter.

That describes how they see themselves.  GenX and GenY are not nearly as entrepreneurial as the Baby Boom generation—but they are even more innovative.  Their passion is not for breaking out on their own but for discovering the next iteration.

Tell them they are responsible for continuing the business and you won’t see them for long.  Tell them their job is to redefine, redirect and reenergize the business and they see a multiple reasons to put their minds to work.

Every founder deserves to be an Ambassador.

Successful Adapters no longer need the founder, but they do need someone with the stature to guide and promote the business as it evolves within the industry and within the greater community.  They need an Ambassador.

Imagine the six million entrepreneurial founders in the US today crowded onto the 70,000 golf holes in the US.  Is that a good story compared to all the achievements waiting to happen if six million Ambassadors apply their passion and creativity to business expansion, social causes and charitable enterprises.  It is an evolutionary force the world has never known.


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