Be prepared for a change at the top

The prospect of losing a star player might seem remote, like a dot on the horizon, but don’t leave it until their departure is looming – it could just sink the ship Words Rob Gray

In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different, said the pioneering French fashion designer Coco Chanel. She knew her stuff, did Coco. As proven by another of her famous quotes: as long as you know that most men are like children, you know everything.

Childish or otherwise, male or female, we all like to think we’re irreplaceable. Yet even in the case of the great, undoubtedly unique Coco, life has gone on without her. Nearly half a century after her death, the Chanel brand is stronger than ever. Brilliant replacements, such as famous designer Karl Lagerfeld, have kept Chanel at the top.

The glamorous world of haute couture and designer fragrances isn’t usually held up as a useful example to the grittier business of print. But there are leaders and star performers in every business, in print as much as any other sector, whose loss would be keenly felt. Possibly even to the extent of damaging or at worst totally destroying the business if no proper thought has been given to continuity


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