Effective Succession Planning


pmwj47-Jun2016-Albrecht-BOOKBook Title:   Effective Succession Planning: Ensuring Effective Leadership Continuity and Building Talent from Within
Author: William J. Rothwell
Publisher: American Management Association
List Price:   $69.95        Format: Hardback
Publication Date:  2016    
ISBN: 978-0-8144-4915-8
Reviewer:     Dale J. Albrecht, MBA, SPHR, SCP
Review Date: June/2016



Succession planning is a critical business topic that can and should be understood from all levels and functions within an organization. People are the lifeblood of our organizations, and they are critical to successful project management just as they are critical to every business function. Effective succession planning addresses an organization’s need for people-continuity much like effective risk management addresses an organization’s need for business-continuity. The 5th edition of Effective Succession Planning by William J. Rothwell (2016) takes a broad and exhaustive approach to the subject.

Overview of Book’s Structure

The book is organized across the lifecycle of succession planning. It builds from establishing a fundamental understanding of succession planning to defining and implement effective organizational processes. The author then takes the reader further through the maturation process by articulating an approach to assessing the organization, and then he closes the succession lifecycle by focusing on development. The book is thick, but don’t let that scare you. It’s filled with plenty of examples, worksheets, and tools that can be easily applied on the job.

Part I of the book firmly establishes the fundamentals of succession planning. It takes the reader through the establishment of foundational knowledge in language that’s easy to understand and digest. This part of the book is complete with ample vignettes which make comprehending the information very easy.

Part II of the book, in the author’s words “lays the foundation” for succession planning and management. This section of the book contains three chapters that define a process/approach for how to establish succession planning in an organization. You’ll find plenty of advice and guidance on how to build a case for succession planning and how to start and refine a succession planning program.

Part III of the book consists of two chapters that focus exclusively on assessing an organization. The assessments that the author reviews and discusses address the organization and individuals. It is very practically organized into assessing current needs and then assessing future needs.

Part IV of the book is the longest section, and it addresses people development along with various aspects of the on-going operation of a succession planning program. This part of the book is especially useful to practitioners (those who will be stewards of the process) of succession planning.


The four part structure of the book enables a broader audience to find the book useful and educational. If you’re a line manager who would like to understand the basics of succession planning and its value to the business, reading parts I and II would be sufficient. If you’re in a role where you are launching and establishing a succession planning practice, part III will be especially useful. And, if you’re pushing toward succession planning maturity and increased effectiveness, part IV will guide you along the way.


To read entire Book Review, click here


About the Reviewer

Dale J. Albrecht

North Texas, USA



Dale J. Albrecht
is the Human Capital Leader for Rent-A-Center based in Plano, Texas. He is also an Adjunct Professor for Texas Woman’s University in Denton, Texas, and is a doctoral candidate at the Swiss Management Center in Zug Switzerland.

Dale has fulfilled roles in Human Resources Leadership, Education, Leadership Development, Change Management, Performance Consulting, Organizational Design & Effectiveness, Project Management, Engineering, and Technical Support. Prior to working in the field of Human Resources, he started his career in the US Air Force in Satellite Communications. After he left active duty, he worked as an Electronics Communications Field Engineer for a Department of Defense communications contractor. Then he worked as a Technical Project Supervisor for Motorola, Inc. While at Motorola for 15 years his career evolved away from technical roles into people-centered roles in varying human resources capacities. Dale has industry experience in Military, Department of Defense, Telecommunications, Retail, Medical Devices, Manufacturing, and Construction.

Dale is pursuing a Doctoral Degree in Business Administration from the Swiss Management Center in Zug Switzerland. He has a Master’s in Business Administration from Columbia Southern University, with a focus in Human Resource Management. He has a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Workforce Education & Development from Southern Illinois University, where he graduated Summa Cum Laude and a member of the Golden Key National Honor Society. He holds a certificate in Organizational Development from DePaul University.   In addition to these he is a certified Senior Professional in Human Resources, a SHRM-Senior Certified Professional, a Six Sigma Master Black Belt, and holds a certificate in Project Planning, Analysis and Control from George Washington University.

Email address: [email protected]


Editor’s note: This book review was the result of a partnership between the publisher, PM World and the PMI Dallas Chapter. Authors and publishers provide the books to PM World; books are delivered to the PMI Dallas Chapter, where they are offered free to PMI members to review; book reviews are published in the PM World Journal and PM World Library. PMI Dallas Chapter members can keep the books as well as claim PDUs for PMP recertification when their reviews are published. Chapter members are generally mid-career professionals, the audience for most project management books.

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