Incorporating EOS® into Succession Planning

At some point in building a business, succession planning becomes an important topic of conversation. Every entrepreneur that views their business as an institution separate from themselves should think about what will happen when they’re ready to move on—whether that means retiring, selling the company, or just following a new idea. Companies running on EOS already have the framework for getting their succession planning started. It starts from Gino Wickman’s basic idea: teams need to devote time to working on the business, rather than in it.

What does succession planning involve? Succession planning is a long-term process that is best guided by an expert who understands

the wrinkles and pitfalls a business can encounter. The focus is on the most important positions in the business that cannot be filled just by hiring someone off the street. Usually that means the founder Visionary, who has a great deal of the company’s key knowledge locked away in their brain. Succession planning starts with the plan itself, deciding important details like these:

  • Timeframe. Will the successor take over after a few years, or will that date be left open? It’s not unusual for succession planning to begin without a fixed end date.
  • Cadence. How often will the succession planning team meet over the course of the succession process? What will their goals be?
  • Who is the successor? Nominating a successor should be done with care. This is the person who will “shadow” the most senior executive in the organization. Their expectations need to be clear from the start to avoid disastrous misunderstandings. Once the plan is in place, it needs to be executed with regular discipline. EOS businesses have a big advantage here, because they’re already used to regularly recurring, structured meetings.

How can EOS be of help to a succession plan? If your succession planning involves an outside consultant, you’ll want that advisor involved at the major touch points in the process. Quarterly reviews of progress and plans are essential for staying on track. The decision of whether to include these reviews in the regular EOS quarterly meeting cadence will depend on how well they can integrate with all the other important topics of those sessions. For many businesses, the succession process involves just a few people. Including the entire leadership team may be counterproductive in some situations. As the succession plan unfolds, EOS provides support and systems for keeping the plan moving in the right direction.

These are some tips I’ve picked up over time:

  • Include EOS in the plan. For EOS businesses, adopting a succession plan should include bringing the successor into the EOS  leadership team (if they aren’t already there). The successor needs to be a full participant, with Rocks, a place on the Accountability Chart, and so on.
  • Include the succession plan in EOS planning. When setting Rocks for each quarter, be sure the succession plan issues and to-dos are included. The time needed to make the succession process work needs to be accounted for to ensure the rest of the Rocks are S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely).
  • Use IDS×72/2122.png. Successions are never completely smooth. Quite often the people who are next in line for important positions have different ideas about the direction to take the business. Those disagreements are often healthy, but they need to be channeled through a decision process to be productive. EOS tools like IDS can be used during those succession planning sessions to keep everyone on the same page.
  • Include the Integrator. If the Visionary is grooming a successor, the Integrator will need to be part of the conversation. This is both to support the Visionary and ensure that the rest of the organization is ready to move. Bear in mind that if the Visionary will be replaced, the Integrator may need a succession plan, too. Your EOS Implementer® is here to help. If your business needs a succession plan I recommend talking about it with your EOS Implementer. Not every Implementer is qualified to lead a succession program, but all of us can provide guidance on how to begin tackling the challenge.


What steps has your business taken to prepare for its next generation of leadership? I’d love to hear how the process has gone for you. Send me an email at [email protected] or give me a call at (818) 649-1103.

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