Today, as I listened to the Presidential inauguration on the radio on my drive into work, I was reminded of the power of our nation that is reflected every time we elect new leaders. As quoted from our first President, George Washington:
What is most important in the grand experiment, the United States? Not the election of its first president, but the election of its second president. The peaceful transition of power is what will separate this country from every other country in the world.
How fortunate we are to be able to carry on in every aspect of our lives as a nation, even when we have a transition of power. That is truly amazing!
I thought about our businesses in this country. We have to deal with the same issue on a much smaller scale – transitioning power and responsibilities. This happens almost seamlessly on a national political level, so why is it so difficult at the level of our own businesses?
I think of all of the congruent systems within our governmental institutions that make this transition possible. On a very basic level, we have set and established branches of government, agencies within branches, appointed and elected leaders in these positions, and detailed duties and responsibilities that each of these units are tasked with achieving.
Are these same basic structures established in our own businesses? How can the next leader that steps in know what to do and how to accomplish it if we don’t provide them with a structure in which they can accomplish the job the prior leader vacated? We often find that detailing processes and procedures is a tedious and often annoying function that simply keeps us from doing our “real job”. Yet, until we’ve documented what we do, we’ve done nothing to create a business – we’re just doing a job. If we want to be able to transition power in our businesses, to let them flourish under others’ leadership, then we must firmly establish the structure that enables the transition.
While I like figuring out the general structure, putting together the detailed instructions sucks the life out of me. I completely understand when other owners grumble at the need for such procedures. We should seek out those talented colleagues who actually enjoy lining out the details. We should first give them the tools and authority they need to successfully complete this function for us and then review it every year or so to make sure we’ve incorporated the changes that happen as our businesses age.
All of our businesses will come to a point of transition of power. It’s up to us to make sure that transition occurs successfully and peacefully.