Re: Poll: Do you think your aikido organization would surive without its chief instructor(s)?
"When a CEO dies or leaves a business, the board tries to get the best person to replace the position. In the case of AAA and MAF, they did not do this. They looked within their own organizations to find another Chief-Instructor. They did not look outside their "company"."
Ted, I can't comment on the MAF. However, in regards to the AAA, where would they have looked? The owners of AAA-the Toyoda family-want to perpetuate the aikido of Toyoda Sensei. To do so, you have to find someone who has trained under him long enough to be extremely familiar with all aspects of his aikido. You are not going to find that in someone outside. AAA/AAI is Toyoda Sensei's legacy and the only way it can be passed on is by those familar with him, his values, his goals and his art. The former chief instructor had studied with him for 25 years exclusively. Whether it was the right decision in retrospect is not for me to judge, but Sato sensei was one of many logical choices.
The problem with most aikido organizations, and MAF was an example as well, is a lack of what businesses refer to as "succession planning". In business (when I worked in it) we put together succession plans by identifying potential candidates, identifying experiences/training needed, and determining whether they were likely able to move into a certain position and within what timeframe. These were formalized documents. Moves within the organization were made. For example training someone to be CEO might require movement into multiple departments within the company (engineers going to manufacturing for example). I wonder if any large aikido organization right now has a succession plan or has given much thought to successors and formalization of this process. This could be a critical issue in upcoming years since most of the top shihan are getting into the risk age bracket. Unexpected events can also occur-Toyoda's death was sudden and unexpected.