The ‘Merry Go Round’ Of Indecision

Dr Richard Shrapnel PhD
3 min readJun 29, 2022


A series for those journeying through family business succession.

Good family succession planning requires a lot of detailed work, strong communication, honest conversations, fairness, clear goals, robust process and ultimately decisions. Short-cuts, avoiding difficult conversations, weak compassion, self-interest and superficial work are some of the common failings. But the unwillingness to make decisions when they are needed is probably the most prevalent.

Do you have a journey mapped for your succession process with clearly marked decision points that will sustain the momentum?

There’s always ‘more time’ is often the fall-back position, and in business, there are always more pressing issues. And weeks become months that literally become years as the succession process grinds to a halt.

Then suddenly there is no more time, and the opportunity has been lost or there is a rush to put plans in place. Succession requires a proven process, established goals and a program of works set to a clear timetable, with sufficient space for thought and discussion. Establish this and decisions will be easier to reach and make.

The Twelve Dangers- There are many dangers that the traveller must be wary of and keep a close eye out for. Not only must they avoid these dangers but be proactive in protecting against them.

Danger 11/12 — Merry Go Round

Indecision rules the camp, and the succession journey has faltered.

You have completed your journey through all of the five lands, and you have now entered the sixth land — the Land of Decision — where you need to bring it all together, to formalise your decisions and to make it all happen.

But as you pause and catch your breath, you look back and realise that maybe you rushed through some of the lands and that you were not necessarily as diligent as you should have been.

Perhaps not everyone has come with you and you have lost support on the way, maybe disharmony is brewing. Probably there have been some matters that were just too hard or too controversial, and you passed them by or maybe you just thought jumping to the end would be quicker? What now?

Indecision can only be resolved by revisiting those areas of doubt and drilling deeper into them so that decisions can be reached. The Land of Decision is one of consolidating all of your hard work; it is one of pause before the final ascent.

You should not proceed if uncertainty still exists or if you are not fully prepared. Revisit and close out any areas that require further attention and then re-enter the Land of Decision.

Quotes From Travellers — If I had my time again*:

I didn’t have much time to show my sons about my business”From A Family Business in Japan

“Start working sooner on a realistic plan. Perhaps use an outside consultant to help patriarchs manage their strong egos and disillusionment that they too will pass one day, and it probably isn’t healthy for the company that they ‘work until they die’”From A Family Business in USA

“More planning of successor entry into the management team of the business, including earlier dismissal of senior staff creating obstacles”From A Family Business in Poland

*Travellers quotes are from ‘Succession Reset’ by Dr Richard Shrapnel PhD, published by Baker Tilly International, London. 2014.

#familybusinesssuccession #familybusiness

An Invaluable Resource — ‘Transition — Orienteering The Lands of Succession’

A Topographical Guide For Orienteering Family Business Succession



Dr Richard Shrapnel PhD

Business Strategist, Writer, Speaker