In my succession planning business, I use an arch to describe the 7 Steps to SuccessionSM in my process through the McCabe Arch. I have been asked why I chose an arch to describe this process. There are a few reasons for this:

  • An arch needs a solid foundation. If it is built on a soft or uneven surface, the structure will likely collapse under its own weight. The same can be said of a business and the succession planning process. If the foundation of a business is not solid, it is more likely that it will not succeed. However, with a solid foundation, a business can be a success and has a better chance to survive through multiple generations.
  • The weight of an arch is carried by each section. This is what makes it so strong; the weight is balanced on side and through each section. A successful succession plan is also balanced on each side – Founder generation and Successor generation – and each step continues to build on the prior step to create a solid, stable plan.
  • Each side need to be equally as strong as the other side. If they don’t come together at the top, the keystone can’t be securely placed and the arch (or plan) would easily topple over. Placing the keystone in a fixed position at the top of the arch provides the the necessity strength to firmly  join the forces from each generation.

The first arch model was created in the late 1990’s when I worked at PartnersFinancial. At that time I was asked to design a program to help sustain a multi-generational member firm. This model was further developed as I realized that both generations needed equal time to understand what their role was going to be throughout this process and as an end result of the process.

While creating the McCabe Arch, I kept in mind the fact that every business, and every family, has unique dynamics, structure, members and goals. The Arch is flexible enough to take into account all of those distinct subtleties, and yet, provide the structure needed to build a succession plan that can unite all parties.

This process is also flexible from a time perspective. I have seen businesses where the Founder generation is not looking to retire any time soon. They like what they are doing and want to continue doing it. In that case, the succession plan is put in place, but not triggered until a future date.

Conversely, there are businesses where the Founder generation is considering retirement, but the Successor generation is not ready to take over. They may be young, or need additional mentoring, or are fulfilling other goals in life. The Founder needs to determine if he/she can wait for the Successor to catch up or if the succession plan needs to go down a different path.

What I have learned is that each situation is different. As the succession blocks are assembled throughout the process, as with any arch, they begin to lean in towards each other. However, the process would fail without proper support and commitment. It’s the Keystone, the block that adheres the two sides together, that is crucial to creating the solid plan.

My goal is to help any private or family business create a solid succession plan. I will continue to go into detail about the various steps of the 7 Steps to SuccessionSM process so you can gain a thorough understanding of it.

Contact me to learn more about my succession planning and business continuity services.