Any organization that can only continue to live so long as the founder is alive is just as good as the one you can call the subsistence (also meaning survival) organization because it means that the organization was just built around one person or one family and when they person or the family is not there then the business will not go on. The word successful in the context of an organization is not just about having a structure that runs well enough to provide what you eat. Anything can be barely surviving but its true state will be revealed when it is passed on to others so the real success of any organization is known when the organizational is handed to another person or another generation.
When we set out to build organizations and we claim that the organizations are meant to meet societal needs, we should be able to structure them such that the organizations can continue to meet those needs even when we are no longer around but it will be impossible for those organizations to meet any needs if we do not put in place trans-generational plan.
Every successful organization, especially the ones that have gone multinational and have been around for at least a century, have a plan to ensure that the organization they are building does not only exist in their time but continues to exist after them and is contemporarily relevant to the generation after them. It is for this reason that you find a lot of automobile companies today that are always coming up with new models of cars even when nothing is absolutely wrong with the one they produced the previous year. They are conscious of the fact that what served people yesterday will not serve them so effectively today and they are always thinking ahead to see what they can improve upon in order to serve efficiently the new generation. Some have gone as far as having a 20 year or a fifty year plan about where the organization will be and what the organization will be doing at that time.
How do you expect an organization to run a 20 year or fifty year plan successfully especially knowing that most of the people there at the planning stage will not be there any more by the time the projected years are complete? What they simply do is to visualize the future, write down what they see as clear as it can be and they would spell out what can be done instantly. As soon as they begin to do what can be done instantly, they also begin to train the people who can take charge in the next 5 to six years. By the time those ones are fully in charge, they also commence the training of those who will take over for the next 5 to six years. Its a big and a long term plan so they cannot afford not to have people being trained from time to time in order to achieve what needs to be achieved. They need to get as many people as possible on the same thinking train and sometimes build a particular culture in them.
If you check any organization that has been in existence for more than 100 years and is not only running effectively but also taking the lead in the market place, then you know that the organization had been preparing some people for relevance long before they became executives in the corporation. In some other cases, they look at executives performing in some other places and they absorb them into the organization because of their expertise in order to hit the main plan of the organization.
If you have a chance to study any organization that has gone into this level that I am talking about, you will realize that they probably have a whole department that simply does planning. Some of them do not have a physical department for planning but you will see a team responsible primarily for long term planning. I have also heard of organizations that hire people just to do planning for them and they are only paid to plan not just for immediate execution but for long term relevance in the corporate world.
Sometimes, a simple acid test for your organization will be for you to take a long vacation and see how things are run when you are not around. The other one is for you to retire from the organization to face something else or to go and rest. A lot of people cannot take a vacation because they are afraid the business will not run properly and some others are afraid to retire because of the state of the business. If you cannot take a vacation or you are afraid to retire then you know you really have a lot to do regarding building a trans-generational business! Do you want to run a successful organization? Engage yourself in trans-generational plan and make sure the organization can run while you are not around!
© Fola Daniel Adelesi
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