The world is following keenly the ‘Robert Mugabe Saga’. Coup or no Coup, one thing that is clear he has terribly handled succession to his presidency. He has his sight on handing over power to his wife whose leadership the people are just not prepared to accept.
He also probably forgot that his gradually aging body was a sign for him to put his house in order. In his case the personal humiliation is the disaster. For organisations, it could be anything from significant corporate losses to collapse.
Taking football, Alex Ferguson managed Man Utd for 27 years winning 13 premiership trophies, 5 FA Cups and 2 UEFA Champions League titles and a host of others making it 38 trophies in all. Following his departure almost 5 years ago, Man Utd is still dancing in circles with a string of managers; David Moyes, Van Gaal and now Mourinho. It is not a big deal if a premiership club does not win a cup in 10 years, afterall Arsenal is still a happy team. But the heights Man Utd attained during the Ferguson era makes it a concern that they haven’t won the premiership in 5 years. Alex Ferguson later got a contract to lecture at Harvard Business School, but a quick joke followed that he should never be made to teach succession planning.
Large corporates do better, but the principles which apply to the multi-national are the same ones that should guide the SME or the small family business in planning succession. Where is Poku Transport, Chandirams, Astek (Refresh) and many other thriving Ghanaian companies we grew up with? Of course not all collapsed companies have been as a result of bad succession plan. Most of them have just been by mismanagement and inability to see into the future. But some Ghanaian companies seem to be doing great. Dr. Duffour seem to have done great in that regard with his children managing the great number of his companies.
Rupert Murdoch the media mogul has also taken great strides in making his businesses live after him. His sons two James and Lachlan are actively at the helm of affairs. Growing up in Kumasi we used to enjoy a Waakye joint, Mango Down. Nearly 35 years on, Mango Down functions with precision, taste hasn’t changed and the descendants keep showing up to run the business. Give yourself a treat anytime you are in Bantama, Kumasi. Now it is the turn of the great grandchildren running the shop. Perhaps Robert Mugabe or Alex Ferguson should have learnt from this Mango Down Hajia. Another food joint that has been around for decades is Lcmnava at Adabraka. Now this is succession planning! Growing the business to corporate levels the way Pipe Ano Fufuo in Takoradi has done is not the topic for today. For now we concern ourselves with the continuous existence of these businesses who successfully passed on the baton, and these businesses have passed the test.
This is food for thought for our dear Pastors who are the founders and the first generation overseers, first generation political group leaders and any first generation entrepreneur. Now it’s not even only about the age of the entrepreneur as a person’s circumstance could change anytime.
A sequel to this piece would look at succession planning strategies and how not to be a Robert Mugabe.
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Yaw Korankye Antwi, www.ghanatalksbusiness.com