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Conversation 2: Don Learns He Is Stuck

Updated: May 28


Don has built a lucrative business. At 69 he is thinking about the day when he will not “drive” his business. He has a friend with some succession planning experience who has advised him to start with twelve conversations. The first conversation revolves around clarifying the business’s true impact through a process he labeled “AIM” (read here). The first conversation centered on the first acronym of the AIM process, Awareness.


Having a conversation centered around the first step of the AIM process (awareness) helped them to recognize their business’s true impact.


After the first meeting, Don is diligent to send a recap and overview of the conversation about awareness. But, after reading his recap, the team is perplexed. Don’s memory and perspective of the meeting are radically different from theirs. Some of the most glaring breakthroughs of the meeting don’t show up in the recap.


Having a conversation guided by the awareness, intentionality, and movement (AIM) guidelines helps succession planning teams recognize their business’s true impact. click to tweet

This is important to the team because the awareness that they have recognized and are articulating will be used for their future planning.


Don is clueless. He has always been diligent to take notes in all their meetings. But succession planning requires a shifting of roles. He has always been the leader with solutions. Now he must become the guiding coach with probing questions.


Don...has always been the leader with solutions. Now he must become the guiding coach with probing questions. click to tweet

Don’s heir apparent helps him realize he may not be hearing everything that is being said in their meetings. Together, they make a plan.


In their next meeting, Don allows Richard, his heir apparent, to lead the meeting. Richard carefully recounts the conversations from their first meeting. He points out the awareness that they uncovered and articulated. As he rehearses, Don realizes he has been stuck. It doesn’t feel good, but it is healthy.


Before they adjourn, one of the team members (not Don), an assigned “scribe,” writes out the discussed dilemmas and aha moments of the meeting on a marker board. Before they leave, everyone agrees that what the scribe shared accurately reflects the discussions.


The second conversation should continue with examining the intentionality (the I of AIM) of the business’s profits. Some thought-provoking questions to ask:

Does the business serve a purpose other than just to make money?

What makes this organization worth passing on to the next generation?

What is the most significant impact of this organization that is worth continuing?

What was its most significant impact last year?

In years past?

Keep having succession planning conversations!


Harry T. Jones



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