Ratan Tata’s Succession Planning: Looking beyond family


In the previous couple of days, there was a hype about Ratan Tata looking for succession for the reason that succession candidates were sought beyond the Tata family.

It’s an encouraging change in the dynastic fashion of business empires in the Asian, and more so in South Asian countries. However, a system of checks should be brought about in place with such a radical change to be brought about. Why? Because the entire set of systems, procedures, policies and most importantly, human resources, are attuned to the family business systems.

With family businesses, there is a concept of loyalty and long-serving employees holding senior positions usually not on the basis of only merit, but on the basis of a mutual commitment to the cause of the group since long. Certainly, this is good to an extent. However, ensuring these people get ample opportunities to update their skill set to keep them fit for their positions is the organizational responsibility too. More often than not, no one’s interested in promoting such continuing education of people in family businesses.

As much as it is a commendable decision, there is a need to check that the new person at the helm of affairs realizes this, and doesn’t only keep replacing the previously employed, committed employees.

Keeping the above in mind, and acting accordingly will also ensure a growth mentality to prevail in all organizational levels and merit would breed further merit, leading to a virtuous cycle of growth and continuity.



Many people suffer from this deadly habit of procrastination where they keep on delaying things until such time that the knife hangs on their necks. Many of them do it so often that they forget there happens to be an alternative. Sometimes, they feel bad about being late but mostly, things are fine as long as they do it. Can you remember someone in your friends’ list who shares similar traits?
Some businesses, like human beings, develop this habit of procrastination. These kind of businesses are often seen fire fighting on small, petty issues rather than strategizing on more important ones. Three most common reasons why this might be the case could be:

  • Organizational head is a procrastinator by nature, hence, everything else falls into its place – late.
  • Organization has a lot of “inertia” as I like to put: This happens when the size of an organization grows much beyond their managerial capacities.
  • The key executive/(s) in organization are trying to get the maximum benefit out of their position while they’re still on their seat. This is actually the worst reason of the three, principally, because this leads to lower employee morale, disgruntled employees, higher attrition rate, losing out employees to competition, bad word-of-mouth for the organization and the overall poor perception of the organization in the industry.

Once an organization has successfully  identified why it has turned into a procrastinating organization, and figure out what’s the reason, the decision to make is to change or not. The point I want to make here is that to successfully identify the reason behind the lethargic organization is at least as much important as the decision to change, since latter without former would only create confusion.

Does experience have a replacement?

However smart one might be and however talented one might be, irrespective of that the importance of experience can never be undermined. If you are lucky enough, you would realize this in only a couple of months after you join your practical life. People with experience have a far more firm grip on things and know better how to tackle things; but do we really need to look for a replacement for it?

The thing that differentiates human beings from other mammals is their ability to grow their knowledgebase on the shoulders of their ancestors. What it means is that ‘humans are humans because they learn not only from their own mistakes & experiences but also from the experiences of other fellow human beings.’

So, what needs to be done is to be human & learn from others’ experiences. If you are smart enough, you would be able to put others’ experiences to good use for the benefit of yourself, your organization and the entire humanity!

The bottomline is: Experience doesn’t have a replacement; but it need not necessarily be yours!