What can Game of Thrones teach us about succession planning?

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What can Game of Thrones teach us about succession planning?

There be spoilers down there! 

Careful now. If you aren’t fully caught up with Game of Thrones, this isn’t the post for you.


From the untimely (and rather fishy) death of Robert Baratheon in season one, Game of Thrones has delivered eight seasons of event television, chock full of twists, turns, battles and intrigue.

Oh, and dragons.

But at its heart, isn’t Game of Thrones just one big blueprint for the importance of succession planning?

Remember, Ned Stark was supposed to step up and rule until Joffrey was ready. Only, he didn’t handle the paperwork correctly and the rest, as they say, is history.

Succession planning, Westeros-style

Want another example? Okay. Season seven, episode six.

Tyrion Lannister sits with Daenerys Targaryen, next to a roaring fireplace. Dorne and Highgarden have been lost. A goblet of wine is within reach.

As Hand of the Queen, Tyrion is doing his best to counsel the Mother of Dragons. He wants to know what happens, should the worst happen.

“…the world you want to build doesn’t get built all at once, probably not in a single lifetime. How do we make sure your vision endures?”

Daenerys is unmoved. “We will discuss the succession after I wear the Crown.”

Tyrion pleads: “I’m trying to serve you by planning for the long term!”

“Perhaps if you’d planned for the short term, we wouldn’t have lost Dorne and Highgarden!” She snaps back. “We will discuss the succession after I wear the crown.”

Listen to Tyrion!

Long-term planning is an alien concept in Westeros. It’s all about who wields the power in the moment. Yet, a bit of forward-thinking could’ve saved the Seven Kingdoms from a great deal of bloodshed (and, admittedly, would’ve made for some very boring TV).

Daenerys Targaryen would have done well to heed Tyrion’s advice, but at least it’s a lesson we can use in the real world. There’s no time like the present to discuss the future.

It’s about your life and legacy

Often, business owners are reluctant to discuss succession planning because they conflate it with estate planning, which involves the unpleasant requirement of thinking about your own death.

Business succession planning, on the other hand, can actually be more exciting. While you shouldconsider what happens to your business in the event of your death, you also get to plan for the future with the intention of enjoying it.

Good succession planning helps you plot your exit, identify your successor, and preserve and grow your wealth. This means that when the time comes to pass the crown to your anointed heir, you’ll be able to transition into retirement with relative ease.

Start thinking about the future, now

Typically a succession plan will centre around answering questions like:

  • At what age would you like to retire?
  • Do you want to sell your business, or pass it onto someone else?
  • If you do pass it on, who will take over? Are they suitably prepared?
  • Or, if you plan on selling up, how much are you looking for?

Once you have your answers, you can map out what you want your exit to look like, well in advance. For your business to flourish and your legacy to endure long after you’ve left the throne, it’s important that you take the necessary steps as early as possible.

The last thing you want is for war to break out over who controls what after you’re gone.

When you play the Game of Succession Planning…

You win.

Doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, does it?

Don’t let planning your exit drive you mad like Daenerys or fill you with worry like Jon. Contact us todayto speak with one of our team about developing your own business succession plan.