Kris Dunn explains a Potential Tweak to Your Succession Platform: The Shadow

Kris Dunn Kris Dunn, Worldwide FOT

If you’re lucky enough to have a decent succession program, you know the reality.  Unless you’re heavily invested in the concept of rotations, it’s hard to keep things fresh.  You need as many tweaks and features in your succession platform as possible to keep things fresh.

Got an idea for you – the shadow.  Here’s how Amazon uses it:

“For almost as long as Amazon has existed, Jeff Bezos has had a “shadow” — an up-and-coming executive who gets the much-envied chance to go with the CEO to daily meetings, talk over problems, and generally have as much access to Bezos as they can handle. 

Amazon’s past shadows have gone on to lead big projects. Andy Jassy, head of the now-$6 billion Amazon Web Services business, used to be a shadow. So was Greg Hart, who headed up development of the Amazon Echo speech recognition appliance. Amit Agarwal, the head of Amazon’s growing Indian business, was one, too. 

Shadows usually last about two years in the role. Renz is replacing former Kindle VP Jay Marine, who stuck around for about that long. Now that he’s left Bezos’ side, Marine will be heading up Amazon Instant Video in Europe.”

Now most of you will come with an automatic objection – you’re not Amazon, followed by the closely related “our CEO isn’t Bezos.”  Fair enough.  You might also say that your real need in succession isn’t at the CEO direct report level, it’s 3 to 4 levels below that on your org chart.  All that is true, so let’s dig into the concept of the shadow a little bit.

Talking points to how smaller companies might use the concept of the Shadow downstream:

Read the whole post over at Kris Dunn’s The HR Capitalist (an FOT contributor blog).