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Key Areas and New Trends

Key Areas and New Trends

Key areas and new trends affecting succession planning


In this section we will explore some of the key areas and trends affecting succession planning at the different levels within WAGGGS. We will look at the issues or conflicts within those areas which can ‘push or pull’ against succession planning. These will be referred to as the tensions.

The key areas we will look at are:

Changes in the World

  • Tensions
  • Environmental trends and challenges facing Member
  • Organizations and its implication on succession planning
  • Case study: Youth leadership

Changes in today’s volunteer organizations

  • Tensions
  • Key trends in not-for-profit board governance and implications to MOs
  • Case study: Spotting talent in big organizations and The impact of structure on succession planning

Decision-maker profile

  • Tensions
  • Decision-maker profile and succession planning


Key areas & new trends affecting succession planning in a Member Organization

Main factors affecting Succession Planning:

  • Changes in the World
  • Changes in today’s organization
  • Changes in the needs of individuals


Changes in the World

There are many changes and circumstances that affect the survival, operations and growth of an organization, these include: competition, cultural influences, demographics, natural disasters, economic, socio-political, and technological factors. National organizations are facing tensions that are affecting succession planning.

The arrows symbolize tensions which an organization may experience on a global, organizational or individual level at any given time.

Economic crisis ßà Volunteering
Professional career ßà Hobbies/activities
Global ßà Local
Technology ßà Traditional communication
Choices ßà Structure
External ßà Internal
Dynamism ßà Stability
Virtual ßà Physical
Individuals ßà Family
Refer to diagram on original PDF


Discussion / Reflection Point

What are the tensions your organization has faced or is currently facing?

Environmental trends and challenges facing Member Organizations, and their implications on succession planning

Trends and challenges
in the environment

Solutions for Member Organization

Girls and young women are affected by the
economic crisis

young people have several small jobs and less
time for volunteering

Empower girls and young women with life skills that can help them in their careers

Create a reward system that values the work of the volunteers and show appreciation to ensure retention

Have fewer demands and more specific short tasks where a volunteer can manage her own time and to an agreed timetable

Women have a bigger role in the corporate fields
women are more and more focused on professional careers, taking up more of their time
and energy

Build a high-profile organization that would attract women with professional background to decision-making positions

Have less restrictions on physical presence and create opportunities to supporting Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting from a distance

We are living in the era of globalization
young people are moving and looking for better opportunities

Manage time more efficiently, have flexibility in the schedules, consider using virtual team work

Use technology to keep the maximum number of people updated on the organizational plan/activities and decisions

Create a talent pool of members that are not physically in the city/country but that can still support online and that could be used once back in the country - or as the country’s representative where they are

Establish sufficient diversity at a board level (Age, ethnicity, class, physical ability…)

Technology made life richer and easier
a wide range of choices are available and everything is possible in just one click

Use technology and social networking to communicate with young people



CASE STUDY 1: Youth leadership gap in a small organization

Situation: A small Member Organization of 1,000 members has had half of the board members in different decision-making positions for the last nine years.

Although this board is working passionately to fulfil the Organization’s mission, their constitution does not allow more than half of them to carry on as board members. They are urged to find successors for the next board election in three years.

One of the main challenges is that most of the qualified leaders will leave the Association between 25 and 40 years old for a professional career, higher studies or a better work offer abroad.

Main challenges:

  • Retention of talent
  • Generational gap
  • Leadership gap
  • Difficulty in finding people that are ready to accept a decision-making position

Preparing for succession:

For several years the board has been discussing how difficult it is to retain good leaders due to the socio-political situation of many countries (e.g., economic crisis, low income, lack of opportunities). Deciding how to sustain great leaders and organization over time is not simple. This varies significantly, depending on organizational size and resources. An organization that depends too much on a few leaders is at risk when those leaders decide to move on.

In order to create a good succession plan it is important in this specific case to build a leader development culture. It includes:

  • A look at current leadership resources. This includes formal leaders (with titles), informal leaders, leadership assets and strengths, and what additional leadership skills are needed to better meet the Organization’s mission.
  • The creation of a short description of what being a leader means in the Organization (a statement describing expectations, behaviour and role).
  • Benchmarking your activities against other organizations. This includes studying how other similar organizations attract and develop leaders and deciding which approaches to use within your organization.
  • Creating a written leader development plan. This includes not just drafting and approving a plan but allocating resources to it and making some individuals or teams responsible for it.
  • Making the plan part of the system. This includes integrating the leadership development plan into the annual and strategic plans of the Organization by noting milestones and stipulating progress review.

For small Organizations with a small budget, much of the discussion may focus on clarifying roles of the board, staff and volunteers in providing the necessary leadership. Once these roles are clear (along with the developmental or educational needs associated with them), it is easier to reallocate funds or seek grants to support the development of leaders.


Changes in volunteer organizations

Why succession planning has to be a high priority for volunteer-led organizations:

  • There are often fewer candidates volunteering, and the channels for recruiting are also fewer
  • There is often a lack of tangible incentives
  • The competition for time (family, professional career/education, other volunteer tasks) puts people off volunteering
  • There is sometimes limited opportunity to develop leadership within the volunteer organization

In addition to this, many changes have occurred in the way non-profit organizations function today including:

  • The new trends in attitudes, experiences, beliefs and values of an organization
  • The ability to foster learning experiences which encourage more reflection
  • New tensions between power and influence to get things done and the fact that today’s leaders and managers are increasingly dependent upon the cooperation of others
  • A clear shift from operational to policy governance boards


Trends affecting the non-profit sector

Financial Resources

  • Funders moving from core funding to project funding; from multi-year to short-term funding
  • Increased competition in the fund-raising and grant-making arenas
  • Increased demands in the application process
  • Higher standards expected in proposals and applications
  • Reporting and accountability requirements often exceed available resources and capacity

Human resources

  • Changing demographics of volunteer base
  • Salaries of paid employees below market rate and without major employee benefits
  • More contract positions due to the nature of project funding

Partnerships, networks, and collaboration

  • More holistic, integrated, and horizontal approaches to community life
  • Coalitions and networks forming across sub-sectors
  • Funders requiring partnerships in grant proposals

Relationships with government and other sectors

  • Public policy dialogues being initiated at all levels
  • Government seeing the sector not only as a service delivery mechanism but as a vehicle for citizen engagement
  • More multi-sector partnerships around community health and social and economic development (social economy, public-private partnerships)
  • Shifts in cost-sharing arrangements between orders of government

Diversity and inclusiveness

  • Shifts in demographics
  • Voluntary sector staff and volunteer base not always reflective of the cultural diversity of the country

Performance assessment and evaluation

  • Emphasis on social and economic outcomes and impacts
  • Competing and conflicting demands from stakeholders

Understanding the current environment will help us understand the new trends in board governance, the implications for Member Organization board members and will help us identify resources, emerging models and good practices for succession planning within the organizations.


Key areas affecting the pro file & needed skills of the potential board members

* The arrows reflect the tension between the skills and the roles

ßLeadership and governance à
ßNomination and recruitment à
ßAccountability and transparency à
ßPerformance management and volunteering à
ßBoard culture à
ßRisk management and status quo à
Refer to diagram on original PDF

A number of Member Organizations are facing more and more the challenges of attracting/electing skilled board members, as well as the importance of providing orientation and ongoing training. It remains important to have board members with a strong belief in the organization’s mission and the capacity to make a time commitment. However, being individually and collectively equipped to oversee the organization and ensure its future viability also requires that members have the skills and talent that match the needs of the organization.


Key challenges in board governance and implications on Member Organizations’ succession planning

Trends and challenges Solutions in the board governance

Solutions for Member Organizations

Increased focus on governance

  • Increased awareness of the importance of governance to organizations
  • Increased sense of responsibility on the part of bboard / members
  • Gaining consensus for governance review
  • Improving the board’s knowledge around governance and spot leaders with skills in this area

Increased demand for and reduced pool of qualified CEOs

  • Greater demand for early retirement
  • Increased number of non-profit boards seeking highly talented CEOs
  • Increased emphasis on skills-based boards
  • Planning for succession and developing a nomination process
  • Finding good chair persons and selecting, building, and developing leaders
  • Attracting and retaining qualified staff and board leaders who can fill the organization’s needs and make the time commitment required
  • Achieving an appropriate balance of skills on the board

Rising expectations and requirements for board members

  • Need for board members to assist with fundraising as well as governance
  • Increased time commitment
  • Increased demand for highly professional board members with business acumen and specific skill sets
  • Greater emphasis on ongoing development and learning
  • Orienting, training, developing, and engaging board members and finding the funds to do so
  • Clarifying role descriptions
  • Ensuring that adequate support exists for board members and communicate it to potential candidates for the board
  • Addressing challenges posed by appointed or designated board members
  • Achieving the appropriate mix of fundraisers and governors on the board and defining the role of philanthropy for board members
  • Placing more emphasis on identifying and bringing the appropriate skill sets to the board and embedding them into the nomination process

Increased demand for efficiency and

  • Developing an effective board model and shifting to a more strategic approach
  • Developing effective policies and processes
  • Developing an effective method of communication
  • Improving the effectiveness of board meetings
  • Understanding the board’s role in strategic planning and increasing board member competency in this area
  • Developing the board’s capability to assess partnership opportunities


More emphasis on both process and culture and
the balancing of the two

  • Developing a board model and processes and policies to support that model
  • Achieving the appropriate balance of power between the chair, the CEO, and the board
  • Maintaining good relationships between board and staff
  • Fostering a culture of engagement and constructive debate

Increased demand for transparency and

  • More emphasis on process
  • Increased formality in financial audits
  • Bearing increased cost of meeting higher standards
  • Balancing implementation of standards with resources
  • Ensuring compliance
  • Formalizing accountability and stewardship
  • Determining the board’s information needs and formulating the right questions to ask

Increased emphasis on performance measurement

  • Increased emphasis on measuring effectiveness of boards
  • Increased use of board self-assessments
  • Setting appropriate objectives for the organization, the board, and the CEO and determining effective ways to measure their performance

Increased attention being paid to risk

  • Assessing and managing risk
  • Developing board member competency in risk management
  • Carrying appropriate insurance



CASE STUDY 2: Structure effect on succession planning in a big organization

Situation: A Member Organization of 200,000 members had a membership increase in a very short time to reach 1,000,000 members due to a government legislation incorporating Girl Guiding in public schools as an afternoon activity.

Main challenges:

  • Revise the structure of the organization
  • Setting priorities to recruit more leaders
  • Spotting more talent for the board
  • Creating relationships

Building succession for a large organization:

This large organization is managed by elected volunteers who come and go.

Middle-management in this organization tends to emphasize policy, procedure, and formal agreements such as contracts much more than they do relationships. Because of an environment where priorities change as elected leadership changes, middle-management also tends to be risk-averse.

In order to create a good succession plan it is worth spending time and energy reconsidering the structure of the organization to better fit and serve the new situation.

Organizational design allows us to match our internal structures and policies to meet the demands of the external environment and competitive strategy.

The contextual variables that should be considered when identifying an organization’s structure are environment, technology, size, goals and culture.

Refer to diagram in original PDF

The awareness of contextual variables is much more than just an identification process; it actually helps to set the creation/revision of structure. In essence, organizations want to determine how to organize their structure, their control mechanisms, their communications, their innovations, their interdepartmental relationships, their decision-making, and their overall guiding principles to allow for optimum performance.

By considering these contextual variables and how they are different within the organizational paradigms,

Member Organizations can better determine the effect the variables have on their structure.

The board’s job in building succession and sustainability can be very complicated, particularly as the organization grows. This section points out a few broad categories of issues that are likely to arise while restructuring:

  • Preventing volunteer burnout: Member Organizations are fueled largely – if not entirely – by volunteer effort. Keeping volunteers feeling good about their efforts and not feeling overworked helps keep current volunteers involved, a good organizational structure can help with this.
  • Long-term stability: In all organizations, the people who keep the organization going will eventually move on, so the key to keeping things going is to develop the organization so that it is not too dependent on any one person. Creating a solid organizational structure is one of the best ways to do this.
  • Greater effectiveness: Whatever the priorities of an organization – whether increasing the number of volunteers, spotting talent, or putting emphasis on attracting skilled board members, these priorities will be better accomplished with a good organizational structure.
    • Understanding the board’s role in strategic planning and increasing board member competency in this area.
    • Placing more emphasis on identifying and bringing the appropriate skill sets to the board and embedding them into the nomination process.

Grooming leaders: One of the considerations when interviewing board candidates is leadership potential. Not all board members have leadership potential, but when they do, it is good practice to try to move them into positions where assuming leadership is a natural progression. It is good practice to give them some assignments and see how they respond to the challenge. Also, in organizations that have two or three vice-presidents, they will stand a better chance of having one that will rise to the challenge and make a good leader.

Board involvement: Another organization ensures that the chair and the full board have a real stake in the selection of board members. The board discusses succession issues at every board meeting, i.e., they talk about the needed skills for the upcoming term and criteria for new board members.

Marketing and communication: Need for branding and marketing to create a visible identity, as well as attract/ retain talent that will feel proud to belong to the organization.


In the case of this Member Organization, attention to organizational structure also involves attention to branding and nurturing leadership. Most people will be attracted to an organization that is making a difference and is well-profiled in society.


If the organization is for both girls and boys, there are even more circumstances to be aware of such as the balance between men and women in decision-making and programme development, and to adjust to the policies of more than one global organization - World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts as well as World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM). Some organizations have rules about doubled chairing of all key decision-making positions; others have quota limits i.e. not more than 60 per cent of one gender in a committee.


“Governance has certain principles that are common across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. These are transparency, clear allocation of roles and responsibilities, financial probity, accountability, and looking at outcomes.

Recognize that the principles of good governance apply to all organizations regardless of their size. The structure will have to be tailored to the institution depending on its size, but the principles remain the same.”

The Honorable Bob Rae on Board governance practices


Another challenge occurring in some organizations is weakening democracies – a decreasing number of people taking part in decision-making assemblies and democratic discussions about the educational programme and constitutional affairs etc. To meet this challenge it can be optional to invite these discussions and decision voting to take place in electronic media.


Weakening democracies may demand an increased effort to ensure a balanced diversity of representatives in decision-making bodies regarding:


  • (youth, 20-35 years, 35-50, 50+)

Educational and professional status

  • (i.e. teachers, economics, administrative, academicals, health workers, employers, entrepreneurs etc.)


  • (environmental, female politics, marketing, children, charity, fundraising etc.)


Discussion/ Reflection Point

Survival Cultures?

  • How does your national culture support female decisionmakers?
    • How do you cope with this fact?
  • Do you nationally have a culture that can prevent your organizational life from thriving?
  • How do you cope with that?
  • How do you discuss and maybe get support for developing a realistic succession planning strategy?
  • Does the country have rules that support or prevent your organization from the best succession system? How and why?
  • How do you match the changes in family structures and women’s roles in society to the organization?


Check Points:  Does your organization consider:

  • Age, education, interests and gender alignment
  • Trends in your environment and culture
  • Board governance versus finance/fundraising