In our recent Leaders’ Lab, the conversation was about succession planning. It’s a complex topic that often becomes specific to the execution process for knowledge and client transfer. We discussed the very tactical approach of introducing new people into client relationships and educating future leaders about organizational knowledge. It’s premature to get so tactical, like having no bones for your flesh. When considering succession planning, start with the structure, with the things that aren’t going to change in specificity to each departing professional. That might be the lead time involved – I suggest start at age 50 with identification of the top 5 things (these could be client relationships or position specific knowledge) that are part of their role. Now determine who would do them if something were to change suddenly, which is also known as business continuity planning. And, once you analyze the overlapping next generation, you’ll be ready for some ascension development. Look at the identified talent and have conversation about the skills they would benefit from developing over the next 5-10 years of their career. Creating a development plan for them is as critical as creating the exit plan for your most tenured people. That’s one or two of the bones. Once you’ve identified all the bones, you’re ready for the specificity of the individual plans associated with transitions. That’s the flesh.