What The Succession Formula For Success Is Missing
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If you want to get me talking, ask me what I’m watching on TV these days.
Like many other people, HBO’s Succession has been on my must-watch list for the last couple of years.
Seeing the Roys vie for the title of CEO has a certain thrill—but I also love the business challenges baked into the storylines.
So minor spoilers ahead for Succession Season 3 (and if you haven’t checked it out, what are you waiting for?!)...
“Success doesn't really interest me anymore. It's too easy…Like... analysis plus capital plus execution...Anyone can do that.”
So says this guy, who plays a tech billionaire on the show.
Most of the characters on Succession are pretty terrible people (though entertaining), but I’ve got to hand it to the writers—this formula for success is almost right on the money.
Success = Analysis + Capital + Execution
When I heard this quote, I was surprised how closely it maps onto a framework we use with our consulting clients: the Growth quadrants.
Here’s how Lukas Mattson’s formula for success as it lines up with our Growth system:
Analysis: This maps onto our Strategy quadrant. It involves pulling back from the day to day operations, taking a look at the market, assessing your place in it, and figuring out how you want to approach meeting your goals.
Capital: This maps onto our Finance quadrant. How you make money, how you spend it, and how you manage its flow through your organization are crucial to building a sustainable—and scalable—business. (Not to mention that raising capital is one pathway to big success).
Execution: This maps onto our Operations quadrant. You need systems for planning and getting things done in your company. Clarity around accountability and transparency around progress and key as well.
There are two things I hope you’ll take away from this breakdown.
First, that this formula really can be as simple as Succession says. As entrepreneurs, we deal with a ton of head trash that holds us back. And that head trash can muddy the waters, making success seem magical or mystical.
But it does take strategy, finance, and operations. Which brings me to my next point…
Notice something missing from this quote?
Succession’s formula for success is lacking one key element: People.
And I’d suggest that the lack of focus on people is why everyone on that show is having such a miserable time (although again, delightful to watch).
It’s why the winner of the battle for CEO won’t enjoy their reign half so much as they should.
In the world of Succession, people don’t have value. In the real world, especially in companies our size, people are your most valuable asset.