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Springfords LLP blog

Some news, views and comments about everything and anything, relevant and irreverent.

Resignations: don't lose the head

18 January 2016

What do you do when the top of the organisation leaves unexpectedly, or you get hit by a perfect storm of business calamities? 

Boardroom bust ups.  Market crashes.  Building falls down. None sound very good for business.  Decapitation at the top of the organisation chart leaves most people feeling a bit light-headed, and most business owners running around like those very special sort of chickens. 

If your business depends on a key person or two, you may well have some sort of insurance in place.  That might be a commercial policy, or it might be a succession plan, or it might be both.  Yet, given all the pressures on finances and time faced by today’s hard pressed business owners, chances are that one or neither is in place.  Anyway, who wants to spend a day, sitting around the table, planning for the demise of their career or business.

That’s probably what they’re saying right now at the Environment Agency, and that other favourite of ours, HMRC.

It seems fairly obvious both organisations were taken by surprise recently.  Maybe they didn’t like the idea of planning for resignations and disasters. That’s fair, but you can also plan for promotions, career development, market moves and any number of technological advances.  Having a plan for a good thing - like an office move to bigger premises might be fun to do - and might just save your business if a flood forces that move upon you sooner than planned! 

Natural disasters aside, it’s likely that problems will be more on a more human scale.  When it comes to top people throwing in the towel, there is an unholy conjunction where Murphy’s Law and Sod’s Law come together to contrive the worst possible outcome for you and your business.  What can go wrong, will go wrong - and it’ll go wrong at the worst possible time - and you won’t be able to get out a press release before the media get the story.  That last bit could be from the Murphy-Sod Special Relativity to PR Law. 

Which all rather neatly brings us to a recent couple of especially high-profile Murphy-Sod incidents.  It’s bad enough being the head of the Environment Agency when a storm brews up, but it’s even worse being the guy at the head of the boardroom table when you’re not only not in the boardroom, but off on holiday in Barbados, and the mother of all environmental disasters is unleashed on the country.  Swift exit for Phillip Dilley. 


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