Leadership lesson in succession planning

When David Jones, the former chairman of the retail clothes chain Next, took on a non-executive post at UK supermarket Wm Morrison, he had no idea how tough it was going to be.

by Financial Times, 17 May
Last Updated: 23 Jul 2013

Having fought Parkinson’s disease for most of his career, Jones was no stranger to a challenge. However, having come into Wm Morrisson, just after it had acquired Safeway in March 2004 was never going to be easy.

Jones summarises what he has to do before stepping down: "I won't think of leaving until those things are well progressed: to get the new chief executive and an orderly handover of the power from the executive chairman (Sir Ken Morrison) to a new chief executive."

Whilst Jones admires Sir Ken, he could also see that he was unable to change his management thinking to adapt to the new world the Safeway acquisition had created. Jones says: "...It is very difficult for a man in his seventies to change. I would find it difficult to change but I am not in the same situation as he is in." Not surprisingly, Jones concludes that succession planning is the "most important" role of a CEO in the last few years of office.

Further reading: Next to me: Luck, Leadership and Living with Parkinson’s by David Jones (Nicholas Brearley). All royalties go to Cure Parkinson’s Trust.

Source: Next in the life of David Jones
Elizabeth Rigby
FT, 17 May 2006
Review by Morice Mendoza

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