People Succession

People Succession: Lessons from Forward Thinking Executives in Middle-Market Companies


by Carol Bergeron


A provocative read for executives, the board of directors, and people managers in middle-market and aspiring middle-market companies who choose to groom the next generation of leaders while reducing the risk of organizational underperformance due to job vacancies and capabilities’ shortages. Learn more

Blog LinkedIn Twitter YouTube

June 2015: The Greatest Lesson Learned from Marco Polo & Effective Strategic Workforce Planning

After a recent bicycle ride to my favorite ice cream shop, Kimball Farm - their cherry vanilla is especially tasty this year, I savored the afternoon relaxing on my back deck which overlooks a pool. I caught up on some light reading and personal correspondence. Just as I was about to doze off, in the distance were the familiar sounds of a game played long ago. First was the count “1, 2, 3, ….10”. Then was the sound of thrashing water. Next was the bellow “Marco” responded to quickly with “Polo”. The bellows and chants ensued interrupted by laughter, more thrashing water and squeals prompted by getting tagged and the declaration “you’re it”. I chuckled while relishing many memories of playing “Marco Polo” as a kid.

A little background, Marco Polo was a Venetian Explorer who lived from 1254 to 1324 and one of the first to transport treasures, ideas and cultures of China, India and Asia back to Europe. Rumor has it that Polo didn’t set sail for a specific destination. Instead he wandered about Asia, exploring the environment, people and culture. Unencumbered by a rigid itinerary, Polo soon realized the magnificence of his discoveries and their potential influence on his homeland and himself as a wildly successful merchant.

If Marco Polo was alive, well and a CEO today, I suspect he’d be comfortable with the constant state of change in which we live. I could envision him regularly scanning the landscape looking in every direction, far and near, to uncover the opportunities, threats and their potential impact on his tribe’s success. And for many organization’s that’s the single ingredient most commonly missing from strategic workforce planning – the environmental scan. Another commonly absent ingredient is thinking through how to deal with the different combinations of external factors identified in the scan.    

So, the next time your executive team sets sail to do strategic workforce planning, learn from the explorer Marco Polo. And keep a watchful eye on the horizon and outside influences. Because what you choose to do with those discoveries is likely to have the greatest impact on your greatest competitive advantage – people.  

Carol Bergeron of Bergeron Associates helps people and organizations achieve their goals while increasing employee engagement, productivity and retention, preserving mission critical capabilities and building the pipeline of next generation leaders. Through a fresh set of eyes she supplements existing learning and organizational development resources and services. Carol can be reached at 781-376-4071,,