Yep. So if you don't know by now, perhaps the grapevine is a bit thin on the ground, or the jungle drums a tad muffled, I've a new job. As it's been announced in the MSDN Flash, I can say that it's the Group Manager for the Developer Evangelists. An exciting role managing a team of some of the best technologists I've had fortune to work with.

It got me to thinking though. Success, and moving on, is constrained without a proper succession plan. Do you have one? Have you identified someone who can take your place, and do as good, if not better, a job than you? Or have you made yourself indispensable? The biggest fish in the [insert size] pond!

Besides the opportunity to move on, take a new role, get promoted, and face a bigger challenge, there are other compelling reasons to have a succession plan - no matter your seniority:

  • Identifying people who can replace you forces you to consider the skills and competencies you need for success in your current role. This insight allows you to build on your strengths and perform better in its own right.
  • The same goes for developing someone. To learn a skill; see, hear, and do. To master one; see, hear, do and teach.
  • It shows the organisation (team, committee, band) that you are committed to their success, rather than merely your own.

Succession planning is not "managing up;" playing some political game with your superiors to be noticed or profiled. It's the opposite. Looking after your subordinates (or your role if you're not a manager) and ensuring that there's someone on the "slate" competent to take over where you leave off.

So whether you're a consultant, with a specific skill-set, a musician in a band, a member of a committee, or the manager of a work team, have you got a succession plan? You won't be able to move on, if you don't.