FACT: It takes 10 years to do succession planning right. It takes at least 5 years to do it, under pressure, with lessened chance of success.
FACT: Most design firms leave it TOO LATE.
FACT: With depressing regularity, PSMJ sees very good design firms with much to pass on, blow their chances of leaving a legacy because they either waited too long, got bad advice, or both.
Ownership transition (OT) can be quite tricky. What do you do about the 30-year employee who expects to lead the firm in the future but simply does not have, and will never have, the skills to lead the firm?
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How do we prepare for generational/ownership change?
Good ownership transition planning starts early, with effective strategies to retain the best staff – those with real leadership potential. If that doesn’t happen, they leave for greener pastures. In their leaving, founders deprive themselves of their best chances to pass on the torch.
Sadly, many of the firms that come to PSMJ for advice in this area have already sold down some of the founders’ shares to long-time employees without real leadership skills or even ambitions. Not infrequently, we see these people as “coasting” toward retirement – and they are a drag on the firm, not part of the energy pulling it forward.
Not infrequently, we also see situations where a founder simply refuses to “let go” when their time is up. The most important “passing of the torch” is from the first generation of owners to the second. Sometimes the second “passing” is equally complicated when the wrong people got the torch in the first pass, and the third generation find their pathway to leadership blocked.
Many firms transition themselves extremely well, of course. They don’t need to call for help. If your practice is in that category, WELL DONE! If you’re unsure, book a free, no obligation, confidential meeting with one of our senior consultants to discuss your transition.
Helping our valued clients on succession planning is an important part of PSMJ’s global commitment to the continuity and legacy preservation of good design practice.