Summer is in full swing and many people will go on holiday or vacation during this time of year. However, for many business owners and executives, there will be no relief of a vacation or any time off. Any span of time where the executive is even partially detached from work could be very dangerous. He or she is so involved in the organization that nothing can function without his or her constant physical presence.
The logic of this argument is ridiculous. I would challenge the leadership of such an organization that would allow one person to hold it hostage, and I would challenge such an executive to reflect on how much value he is truly contributing to the organization by allowing himself to be a bottleneck. In a more extreme scenario to illustrate the issues, if an executive were to be kidnapped by gypsies and be unable to resume work, would the organization be able to survive?
Well-run, sustainable, organizations should be able to accommodate an executive’s vacation or surprise exit. If it is too dangerous to allow the executive to go on vacation, it is even more dangerous to NOT allow the executive to go on vacation. The executive will continue to hold the organization hostage, or the executive burns out and leaves the organization in chaos with no backup plan. In either case, the organization will sustain significant damage.
One solution to mitigate this risk of complete dependence on an executive is to abstract the organization’s knowledge and capture it into a system that naturally does not need to take vacations. Such a system could be a checklist of tasks, simple documentation on how to do a certain job, a library of work products, a collaboration wiki site on a company intranet, or a number of other implementations that specifically suit your organization’s needs. The system will outlive any employee, and, with some care and attention, can be a wealth of information and source of competitive advantage.
With such a system in place, everyone can appreciate vacation time to relax and recharge.