Universities are propositions for the long run. Short-term strategies lead to short-term successes. Little is more important to a university than succession planning and it is almost universally overlooked as institutions lurch from one foggy set of leadership goals to another.

A Japanese proverb says it best:

When you're dying of thirst it's too late to think about digging a well.

Leadership changes are a fact of life. Presidential tenure averages about eight years according to a study of The American Council on Education.

Succession planning identifies and develops people for leadership roles within an organization. This is common practice in the private sector. At General Electric it was all Jack Welch talked about. In Japanese corporations - known for their long term inter-generational view of excellence - succession planning is the primary job of corporate executives.