Case Detail

Case Summary

The Changing of the Guard: Planning for Succession at Madison Children's Foundation (A)

Case Number: 5-309-502(A), Year Published: 2009

HBS Number: KEL437

Request PreviewBuy

Key Concepts

Leadership, Nonprofit, Succession, Management, Stakeholders, Community Engagement


In mid-2008, David Miller, the CEO of the Madison Children’s Foundation (MCF), is beginning to contemplate the future of the organization. As the founding CEO, Miller has been the face of MCF since its inception in 1993. The foundation has a strong track record of success and has established a reputation as a “change maker” and “partner” in the community, having made grants of more than $60 million to local organizations. Although its grant-making has increased, MCF’s staff has not grown over time. The board has changed composition over the past six years, adding more community residents and “working” board members. The board succession plan is fairly well organized, with a nominating committee and a good understanding of skill sets needed and the expectations for board members. However, there is no CEO succession plan. Board members have been raising the question in a non-confrontational manner for the past two or three years, and now Miller believes the time has come to create a CEO succession strategy for MCF.

The critical questions raised by this case include:
  • What roles do/should CEOs and boards play in initiating and implementing a leadership succession process?
  • How does the implementation of a leadership succession process affect the senior staff at an organization?
  • How should external stakeholders be engaged in the leadership succession process?
  • Learning Objectives

  • To help leaders (paid and volunteer) to better understand the importance of leadership succession planning for their organizations
  • To provide an understanding of the roles and responsibilities of senior managers in the creation and implementation of a leadership succession process
  • To discuss the importance of including internal and external stakeholders in the leadership succession process
  • Number of Pages: 4

    Extended Case Information

    Teaching Areas: Management, Non Profit

    Geographic: Madison, Wisconsin, United States

    Industry: Nonprofit Foundation

    Organization Name: Madison Children's Foundation

    Organization Department: CEO/Board

    Organization Size: Small

    Decision Maker Position: CEO

    Decision Maker Gender: Male

    Year of Case: 2009