What Happens When the King is Gone?

What happens when the face of the company goes away?

Apple Computer announced on Monday that CEO Steve Jobs was taking another medical leave, leaving his COO in charge. As expected, Apple stock took a tumble this morning. Imagine that, Wall Street reacted emotionally to something!

Snarkiness aside, as mentioned by blogger John Baldoni , it will take a team of innovators to replace Jobs, and, much like what (eventually) happened with the Walt Disney Company, the company can rose to new heights of innovation, even without the turtleneck guru at the helm.

Which brings up the subject of succession. In companies I have worked with, usually as upper-level staff retire or leave to pursue other opportunities, staff who are “left behind” either (a) pass off retiring staff’s duties to lower-paid staff, or (b) try to do it all themselves. Neither of these is a good idea.

One company spent months after the manager left trying to figure out just what is was that they did. In this particular case, the new manager left six months later, sending the company into a tizzy until responsibilities got worked out again.

All in all, it’s always best to start succession planning (and training) as early as possible. Even that worker who claims they will be there forever has a shelf life.

Find out what your people do. Find out how they do it. Along the way, ask them, and yourself, if there might be better ways to do what they are doing.

And, if you feel you don’t have time for any of this, you can do two things:

1) Suffer the fate when you are left in the dark (not recommended), or
2) Call in an expert to help http://www.thewallisgroup.com.

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Rob Wallis is The Marketing Outsider, a speaker, author, and consultant who helps business owners increase their profitability by improving their visibility. Contact him at The Wallis Group

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About Robert B. Wallis - Marketing Outsider

Robert B. Wallis is The Marketing Outsider ™, a speaker and consultant who helps business owners increase sales by looking at their business through the eyes of their customers. He is the author of "Seven Ways to Run Your Business (Into the Ground)," which is available from his website, www.thewallisgroup.com. Reach Robert at outsider@thewallisgroup.com
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