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“A generation plants trees; another takes the shadow. "
(Chinese proverb)

Retirement planning is everything. Or at least it avoids many headaches ... The history of Europe at the end of the Ancien Règime tells at least a couple of extremely instructive events for our subject. While many international competitors watched with interested detachment the Wars of Succession for the throne of Spain, a little further north, England and France were going through two crises, in some ways similar even if, in the end, they had diametrically opposite outcomes. But - it should be said - not so much. In Great Britain, almost prophetically, the crisis began in 1649 with the Puritan republic of Cromwell and the beheading of a king, Charles Stuart, an absolutist and Catholic. His son Charles II was able to return to his homeland, and to the throne, only in 1660, but the end of the dynasty was marked and ended with Anna, who died in 1714 without children. What to do? No new wars of succession. Parliament sent its "headhunters" to look for the closest relative to whom to offer the crown: the lucky one was found in the very German house in Hanover, which settled on the throne of London from 1714 to 1901 when, in turn, it became extinct and the baton passed to the equally Teutonic Saxonia-Coburg-Gotha who, only for a "market question" (a house with such a German name was not tolerable in the middle of the world war) changed its name to Windsor, modifying even the family crest. On the other hand, beyond the Channel, French absolutism did not even want to face the problem of a change in governance, taking the path of the Revolution with unconscious nonchalance and slipping head-on under the guillotines of Terror. The wars of succession, it is always better not to have to start them. If, equally, they explode, once the company is secured, they could be transformed into as many opportunities for leadership renewal, even looking for new brains outside the company. On the other hand, stubbornly resisting without understanding when it is time to change and who can better interpret the technological turning points and new markets risks leading to irreversible crises. Better to send your "head hunters" around while you have time, rather than risk losing your head and your company.


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