Ditch Your 9 Box & Simplify Succession Planning for Success

If you want to engage in successful succession planning, ditch your 9 Box. 

For those unfamiliar with the tool, the 9 Box is a chart commonly used to assess talent within an organization and to make succession planning decisions. Placement of succession planning candidates in the chart is determined by ratings of performance and potential – both based upon a 3-point scale (low, moderate, high). Each of the 9 boxes derived from the ratings is labeled. For example, the high performance/high potential category is labeled "Consistent Star." 

The 9 Box is touted as a simple way to assess talent and plan for the succession of key roles. I disagree.  The tool is overly complex and results in the following consequences: 
  • Executives disengage
  • HR loses credibility
  • Managers game the system
  • HR is burdened with extra work
  • Participants lose sight of the purpose 
Succession planning it is not something to codify or get done in one sitting. It is a series of ongoing, strategic conversations about talent that take place at the executive level. These conversations require skilled facilitators and clear frameworks to guide dialogue about potential leaders for key roles. If you do not have someone internal who can objectively facilitate and who has credibility with the executive team, it is worth getting outside help. If you do not have clear parameters for evaluating potential talent against meaningful metrics, it is important to develop a straightforward method that will work for your unique industry, leaders, culture and business goals.

For more explanation, feel free to download my new whitepaper, Ditch Your 9 Box & Simplify Succession Planning for Success

Amy Hirsh Robinson, Principal, Interchange Group
Workforce Strategies for the New Economy