218 Assessing the Present and the Future
decisions made about how to structure responsibility and organize the work process.
To direct attention to likely key positions in the future, then, decision makers should
examine how the organization will respond to external pressures by structuring re-
sponsibility and organizing work processes. Key positions will emerge and old ones
will fade based on how the organization chooses to respond to environmental de-
mands. (Use the activity in Exhibit 9-2 to help decision makers address these issues.)
Preparing Realistic Future Scenarios
As a third and final step in predicting key positions in the future, compare the results
obtained from environmental scanning and organizational analysis. Draw an organi-
zation chart as decision makers believe it should appear in the future. Write the
expected future mission of each organizational function on the chart. (Make several
versions of that chart at different future time intervals—at, say, one year, three years,
five years, and ten years into the future.) Then add the names of possible leaders and
their successors.
This process is called preparing realistic future scenarios. It is based on the process
of scenario analysis, which has been widely applied to futures research and strategic
Use the activity appearing in Exhibit 9-3 to help decision makers structure
their thinking in preparing realistic scenarios to identify future key positions. Though
not foolproof or failsafe, this approach is one way to move beyond traditional think-
ing about SP&M to lead the target when identifying future key positions.
Three Approaches to Determining Future
Work Requirements in Key Positions
Determining future work requirements means predicting possible or probable work
activities, duties, and responsibilities in future key positions. Once likely future key
positions have been identified, direct attention to predicting work or competency
requirements for those positions. Move beyond present- or past-oriented descriptions
to assess future work or competency requirements in key positions. Toward that end,
apply one or more of the following three approaches.
1. Future-Oriented Job and Task Analysis
To conduct future-oriented job and task analysis for key positions, focus attention on
summarizing expected future activities, responsibilities, duties, or essential functions.
Extend the analysis by examining future tasks linked to those activities, responsibili-
ties, duties, or essential job functions. Write position descriptions as they should exist
American Management Association
Assessing Future Work Requirements and Individual Potential 219
Exhibit 9-2. Activity on Organizational Analysis
Directions: How will your organization respond to the trends evident in the external
environment that will likely affect it in the future? Use this worksheet to help you
structure your thinking about how external environmental trends will affect work in
the organization.
Obtain answers to the activity appearing in Exhibit 9-1. Then answer each question
appearing in the worksheet below. Finally, compare your responses to what other
decision makers write. Use the responses to consider future work requirements in
the organization.
1. For each consequence, outcome, or result you listed in response to question 2
in Exhibit 9-1, indicate what functions/positions in the organization are most
likely to be affected and how you think those functions/positions will be—or
should be—affected.
List each consequence, out- Describe what functions/positions are
come, or result. most likely to be affected and how you
think they will be—or should be—
2. How should the organization respond to future trends? Should workflow
change? Should work methods change? Should the organization’s structure
change? Are any changes likely as a response to increasing external competitive
pressure? How does the organization’s strategic plan indicate that those chal-
lenges will be met? Will new key positions emerge as a result of changes to
organizational strategy? Will old key positions fade in importance while new
ones become more important? Will new competencies be required, and (if so)
what are they and where will they need to be demonstrated?
Provide your thoughts:
American Management Association

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