How to raise the succession question
Succession planning strikes many raw nerves, both with those who are currently at the top of their firms and are contemplating retirement (or not), and also with those in the early stages of their careers who are anxious to know what the future holds for them in their current firm, according to James Mendelssohn in his book Life After Boris: A Fable About Succession Planning for Professional Firms. With good planning, collaboration and proactive discussion, options can be found that will be acceptable to all.
And so we are launched into the tale of a rabbit colony in which the leader rabbit, Boris, is on his last legs. No-one seems to be doing anything about it, so an emerging junior rabbit, Eric, takes it upon himself to ask the awkward questions about who should be the next leader. There are several fairly senior rabbits interested in the job, but their competing power bases cancel each other out, leading to interesting results for Eric.
From my own experience of professional service firm rabbit warrens, I would agree that the person who brings the most energy to a controversial issue often ends up the winner, but the person who asks the questions that firm culture has decreed taboo often ends up getting ostracised and ejected, rather than winning the grand prize.
The book provides a brief and entertaining story which can be used to encourage fruitful discussion on a subject which is of vital importance to firms.