Succession Planning to the Next Generation

Succession Planning to the Next Generation
David Vorse, City of Castle Rock, Washington

Succession planning is a key topic these days; however, it is much like talking about making out your will or planning for your own funeral when it comes to actually doing it. Everyone will agree, but few do it. It seems that even those who do attempt to do it, do not start early enough.

Many cities and counties that I am aware of do little for succession planning and willingly allow all of their institutional knowledge and experience to walk out the door. What a waste of a library and history.

I have just received from our “Blooms” champion and coordinator over 130 steps and procedures she does to make our program successful, and she is a volunteer! I, myself, have been with the City over 40 years and cannot imagine anyone walking into my job cold turkey.

So, when is early enough to start succession planning? My answer is, as soon as the next person is selected (hired, volunteered, spouse-ateered, brow-beaten). Like most of us, it will never be just one person who will be able to replace these golden individuals, and indeed, they, themselves did not start off with the full plate they now have. So, expecting any one person to step up and fill their shoes is very unrealistic.

Recently our “Bloom” coordinator started to give entire ownership of certain areas to individuals who are the primary decision maker for that area from preparation to planting to starting all over again. This has made the overall “big job” seem to be manageable; however, it still does not replace that “master coordinator” that pulls it all together. This is a full-time job in itself; however, it does make it do-able.

It ought to be every person’s responsibility to look for that next “one” who shows the drive and captures the vision to carry the program forward. If this happens it will not merely be a program, but a new culture where we have instituted beauty, not only in our physical substances like flowers, landscapes, parks, etc., but more importantly, into our next generation who, by their efforts, see the value and reap the blessing of both the physical beauty and the social beauty that results in quality of life for our communities.