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Waiting for Dr. Q

Waiting for Dr. Q

In my school days, when I would catch a cold, I used to go to Dr. Q’s clinic which was nearby to our house in PECHS, Karachi. Dr. Q was a very experienced doctor. His diagnosis were accurate. I vividly remember there were people who would wait for long to see only Dr. Q. despite of the fact that there were two other doctors available in his clinic – a lady doctor and a young doctor. All the three doctors would sit in a row. Dr. Q and young doctor would sit next to each other. While the lady doctor’s desk was at a slight distance. I recollect that majority of the patients would consult Dr. Q. While some of the female patients would prefer to see the lady doctor. However, none of the patients would be willing to consult the young doctor. One day when I was in Dr. Q’s clinic waiting for my turn to consult Dr. Q. Although, the young doctor sitting next to Dr. Q was free, I chose to wait. Then, out of nowhere it just popped into my mind, if I would not go the young doctor today, how will he become Dr. Q of tomorrow. I immediately got up from the waiting area and walk to the young doctor to seek medical advice. I was just 15 when I realized this. While I write this piece, Dr. Q is no more with us. May Allah shower his blessings on his soul, Aameen. The young doctor of yester year is now a cardiologist. However, the problem is more or less the same. Perhaps, not in Dr. Q’s clinic, rather in some other clinic, hospital, motor mechanic shop, restaurant, family-owned business house, entertainment and sports industry, politics, or even in a mosque in our dwelling. Not many people are interested in developing their shadow. Hence, departure of such people create a vacuum. The organization suffers, operating efficiencies dwindle, and customers are gone. The reason we don’t find many names on the list of business houses that have been around for 50 years or so. There are many reasons attributable to this lack of succession planning. For example, a typical family owned business runs on trust – Owner’s trustworthy employees handles core operations such as: purchase, cash handling, factory operations etc. The critical operations are under control of a single individual posing the risk of single point of failure. The Mr. Trustworthy would denounce implementation of any sort of reporting systems because that will tantamount to be a depreciation charge on his persona. This means that such businesses empowers people instead of systems and processes. However, the owner relishes the trust, as Mr. Trustworthy enjoys the authority as well as every opportunity to cajole his master. This system works perfectly until there is a breach of trust, or the owner start off thinking how to pass on the running business to the next generation. There are cases in which the owner brings in the next generation from an early age. Here the catch is bestowing a senior position to an inexperienced descendant. Resultantly, the untested master is hoodwinked by the veterans. Succession planning is even missing in more structured corporate sector. Here, it is impeded by the insecure managers who always want to feel in control. They may either be threatened by others’ success or lack self-confidence in their abilities, which leads them to see their direct reports as potential enemies. So, developing their own shadows is beyond belief. Often, the Human Capital function of the organization is not skilled to handle a delicate subject of who’s taking the reins next. The irony is that many of the business houses, nowadays, are spending on various sustainable business initiatives – zero carbon, greenhouse, diversity and inclusion etc. All these programs are important. Yet, only a stable leadership and a right pool of talent can ensure longevity of these initiatives. People are complicated, and that can make planning a succession complicated too. Nevertheless, visionary organization invests on business continuity. This includes succession planning. If managed smoothly, switching between leaders can be a beneficial process for everyone involved and the organization moves forward. Author, Liz Weber, summed up the need for succession planning succinctly: “Never put your business in the hands of one person or select few. People leave. People die. People forget.”

About the writer

The writer is an experienced Chartered Accountant driven by a passion to morph organizational issues into story boards discovering the ‘Why’ behind issue, problem, goal, or objective to design custom-made solutions.

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