While pumpkin spice could definitely be called a cultural phenomenon, it has also become somewhat of a seasonal joke. Buzzfeed has created multiple listicles in honor of the fall flavor, and a quick search of #pumpkinspice on social media channels will pull up literally thousands upon thousands of posts (as I type this, there are 554,761 photos on Instagram using that hashtag). Who knew that a squash and some nutmeg could cause such a ripple effect?

Pumpkin spice has become such a sensation—thanks largely to the seasonal latte featured at Starbucks—that it seems almost EVERYONE is jumping on the pumpkin spice bandwagon. At this point, many companies would have you think that anything and everything can be improved with a little pumpkin spice magic. Seriously, click on one of those Buzzfeed lists linked above to see what I mean. Pumpkin spice flavored pumpkin seeds are a real thing.

I think we can all agree that some pumpkin spice items are clearly better than others… just like some of your potential successors will be better than others. (Ooh, a business tie-in!)

Let’s look at some examples:

  • Pumpkin spice coffee sounds way more delicious than pumpkin spice water.
  • Pumpkin spice Oreos? OK, sure. Pumpkin spice salmon? HARD PASS.
  • Pumpkin spice marshmallows could be good (maybe on top of your pumpkin spice latte!). Pumpkin spice Pringles? Not necessary.

It may be time for us as consumers to consider which of these pumpkin spice items are actually worthy of our dollars and our hashtags. Similarly, it’s never a bad time to consider which of your employees have proven themselves to be high-potential candidates that should be placed in your leadership pipeline as part of your Succession Management Plan.

Why? Because you want to fill your key leadership positions with successful pumpkin spice lattes, not pumpkin spice water that’s going to fall flat.

*P.S. By the time I finished typing this blog post, the #pumpkinspice count on Instagram was up to 554,783. And by the time you check it out, there will be even more. Good grief, Charlie Brown!