My, How We’ve Grown In The Family Business Support Profession

It’s been a year of introspection for me, and I’ve spent some time looking back on a half-century career of working with families in business. This thought-work was how I knew to structure my recently released online course, Re-Imagining Relationships for Families In Business. Having to first distill, then organize those principles that I know for sure get results when working with legacy business families took me quite a long way down memory road. I see that, when those involved realized the overall impact of family businesses in global terms, then our consulting and support profession really gained depth and structure.

Nowhere were such changes more dramatically evident than at the recent FFI annual conference in London. The photo you see was taken there, and I have dubbed it “The Stalwarts.” Left to right, it’s Dirk Junge, James Olan Hutcheson, and me. We have all been involved with FFI since its inception, and we were doing the family business consulting work before there were official societies to support it. I’m seeing fewer and fewer of the more senior players in the Fam Biz orbit at these get-togethers, but Dirk, James, and I are still showing up.

In London I was pleased to see a large group of Spanish-speaking participants, and an equally large group of attendees from the Middle East. FFI is now a truly international association of like-minded professionals. I give Judy Green credit for making this happen. I would gauge the majority median age range at the global conference to be 35 – 50, and I think they could have benefited if more of the original seminal thinkers in our profession were there to mingle and to answer questions. That’s a reason I keep attending.

I’ve always believed that change is good and in fact, our ability to change is pivotal […]

Takeaways From Strategic Management Society’s Meeting In Paris

family business, consulting

It’s an irresistible combination: the SMS Annual Meeting (September 22-25), and it’s in Paris, so here I am. The meeting brought together some 1200 people, about 90% of whom have PhDs in some aspect of planning, and everyone with an interest in sustaining successful family businesses.

From the program: “Family businesses are a prevalent form of organization in most of the world’s economies . . . The aim . . . is to identify and reflect on critical questions regarding latest developments in the field of strategy . . . and specifically related to trends such as digitalization, demographic change, and political tendencies of protectionism.” The Sunday session panel chairs were Fabian and George Tovstiga, both of the prestigious EDHEC Business School (Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commerciales du Nord.) The panelists were Ludovic Cailluet, EDHEC, Nadine Kammerland, WHU Otto Beisheim School of Management, Carlo Salvato, Bocco ni University (and also Vice President of FFI.)

What I want to say is that in my experience, much of the research is focused on what conditions do or do not exist in family businesses. I believe there should be more focus on what actions might be taken by family business consultants to improve overall operations. That’s always been my motivator in working with the over 500 families during my 50- year career. “I hear you. I see your issues. Now let’s do something to change them.”

Many of my peers are also interested in seeing new research be more in the arena of practical applications rather than just esoteric concepts and constructs. Our panel later that week in Paris was more centered on the gap between researchers and practitioners, and we discussed the need for greater dialogue between the groups.

It’s always exhilarating to spend time with […]

It’s My Life’s Work—And It’s Time To Share It

family business, consulting New online course now available

In early 2018, in the deep winter of the Rocky Mountains, I sat down to write about what I’ve done for a living for the last 50 years. Yes, 50 years. For the last 5 decades I have worked to help families in business grow, prosper, stay together, keep the love, and pass the torch when the time comes. When I started, there were not many people who could be called in to help a family that was both in business together and in crisis. Now there are college courses in family business management being taught in major universities and there are family business consulting firms all over the world.

I have traveled extensively in this profession, and I treasure the friends I have made and the colleagues I continue to work with in all the various countries. Over the last few years, I observed how the world has changed and how people can now learn about whatever topics they find interesting and/or necessary by just booting up their computers. I acknowledged it was time for me to take what I have learned over my years in family business consulting and make it available in an online course.

On Thursday, September 13, I made a presentation to the Tulane University Family Business Center, and I announced that my new online course is now available. Re-Imagining Relationships For Families In Business takes the learner through what I know to be the Concepts, Methods, and Techniques That Can Work Miracles.

Successful families make a commitment to build and maintain healthy and functional family relationships that further the goals of the family business. Such a platform for success is anchored on these 4 Pillars: Alignment, Boundaries, Communications, and Competency. […]

Family Business Employment Policy: Individuation

This discussion relates to the second half of the Philosophy section developed by the Wilson family. As you review the elements below, I encourage you to think about the discussions the family must have had in the process of arriving at the statement.

By |2020-06-25T08:07:51-06:00June 1st, 2018|Categories: Articles, Family Relationships, Family Values, General, Managing Family Business|

Part Two: Family Business Employment Policy: Philosophy

This discussion relates to the second half of the Philosophy section developed by the Wilson family. As you review the elements below, I encourage you to think about the discussions the family must have had in the process of arriving at the statement.

By |2020-06-25T08:08:10-06:00May 15th, 2018|Categories: Articles, Family Relationships, Family Values, General, Managing Family Business|

Part One: Family Business Employment Policy: Philosophy

The process of building this policy required a great deal of discussion among the Wilson family. They needed to articulate who they were and what they stood for, and then they had to craft a statement that would work for them.

By |2020-06-25T08:08:29-06:00May 1st, 2018|Categories: Articles, Family Relationships, Family Values, General, Managing Family Business|

Family Business Employment Policy: “The Rules of Engagement”

Every game, including the “Game of Life,” has rules of engagement. Family businesses are best served when they clearly define the terms and conditions of employment for family members and for non-family.

When you are born into your family, you are accepted unconditionally. The love of your family is unconditional. At least, that is the way it should be.

Employment in a business is different from membership in a family. Regardless of the ownership structure, all businesses require competent employees in every position. Acceptance in the business must be conditional, based on competence and the ability to produce and perform at a consistently high level. If a person is less than competent, they simply will not meet that standard.

This blog is the first in a series on Family Business Employment policy.

What follows is the first blog in the series. My focus is the theory behind each section of the employment policy. This policy is drawn from an actual policy designed for a real company. The universal principles are excellent and applicable to all family businesses. This policy was developed in the mid 1980s and the principles underlying it are the “gold standard” of all family employment policies. Any family business policy worth its salt will have the components of this policy. The policy can be read in full at:
https://www.familybusinessmatters.consulting/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/familybusiness.pdf

The policy begins with a statement of purpose, establishing the fundamental reason for the policy:

To remove the ambiguity about the matter.

“The purpose of this policy is to define the procedures, process and criteria that will govern how the Wilson family lineal descendants and/or their spouses enter and exit the family company’s employ. (Note the clarity of including spouses as employees. Some families do not permit this.)

This employment policy is intended to remove the ambiguity […]

By |2020-06-25T08:09:09-06:00April 1st, 2018|Categories: Articles, General, Managing Family Business|

Leading the Way: Europe’s First Executive MBA for Family Business

Leading the Way: Europe’s First Executive MBA for Family Business LeadersHave you heard about Europe’s first Executive MBA for family business leaders? Not only it is the first-of-its-kind degree program in Europe, but it is also the only Family Business MBA that has been accredited by the Association of MBAs (AMBA), the prestigious executive MBA accreditation group.

EDHEC Business School now offers the Family Business Global Executive MBA Program.

The students come from different cultural backgrounds, covering all continents, as diverse as Australia, Tanzania, Egypt, Finland, Venezuela, France, Oman, or Reunion Island. They are all family business members with active experience in their businesses and will become the future leaders.

Students join the program to deepen their knowledge and support their family business as future leaders on key challenges including management, family dynamics, leadership, and governance.

How does it work?

The program is held for 15 months with 10 weeks of physical contact hours spread across the EDHEC business school campus and partnering locations, including Paris, Lille, Nice, London, Singapore, Boston and Palo Alto. This allows a truly enriching experience with world-class professors and speakers balancing the local and international dimensions of the class locations.

Classes are held in diverse formats ranging from classical lectures to workshops, experiential learning, family business visits, expert testimonies and coaching sessions.

Whom does it serve?

The Family Business Global Executive MBA (EMBA) is intended for family business future leaders who want to embark on a transformational learning journey to build their legitimacy in the family business, contribute to maintaining family cohesion and responsible ownership practices and business sustainability.

Both members of the family controlling the business and outsiders working in key positions in the family business are eligible for the program.

How can I learn more?

For more information, you can click through to

David Bork Writes Forward for MAPS for Men Book, a Must-Have Resource for any Family Business

David Bork Writes Forward for MAPS for Men BookDavid Bork is proud to have contributed the forward for the book, MAPS for Men: A Guide for Fathers and Sons and Family Businesses.

New York Times best-selling author and nationally syndicated radio show host Dave Ramsey calls this important book “a must-have resource for any and every family business.”

In his forward for MAPS for Men, David Bork, founder and CEO of Family Business Matters, writes: “These concepts help fathers and sons reframe their relationship into something that is more meaningful and helpful in meeting their goals, rather than repeating generational patterns.”

David recommends this book to fathers and sons seeking to better understand their personal and professional relationship.

Full text of MAPS for Men Forward by David Bork

In the interest of full disclosure, Edgell Franklin Pyles has been a good friend for more than twenty-five years, and we share a large community of interests. In the early 90s, we explored together the works of Robert Moore, James Millman, Robert Bly, and others. I met both Robert Moore and Robert Bly at a retreat in Aspen, Colorado, organized and sponsored by Edgell.

This was called the men’s movement, and we were excited about it because it sought to further define what it meant to be a man at the end of the twentieth century. It was grounded in Jungian psychology, and while well researched and articulated, it could be theoretical and esoteric. Our explorations of this work produced a practical approach and we have been on parallel, but different, paths.

We were interested in understanding the dynamics that take place between fathers and sons at both the personal and professional level. Our first step was to comprehend and appreciate the relationship we had with our respective […]

Top Ten Family Business Facts | Fact #2: The Cluster Model Helps Capture the Evolution of Your Family Business Over Time

cluster-modelTraditionally, family businesses are described as constituent of three overlapping circles:

1) the family,

2) the business, and

3) the ownership (Gersick, Davis, McCollom Hampton, & Lansberg, 1997; Tagiuri & Davis, 1996).

Recently, Michael-Tsabari, Labaki, & Zachary (2014) suggested the Cluster Model to update the two and three-circle models by providing a more detailed picture of the circles’ evolution over time.

While the original bivalent two-circle model appropriately describes a family that owns a firm (Tagiuri & Davis, 1996), Michael-Tsabari et al. (2014)’s study addresses the inaccuracies of the circle models when it comes to describing a family that owns more than one firm and suggests a more detailed perspective allowing to include in the analysis the different firms that the family owns to different extents.

Lesson #2: Putting on the lenses of the Cluster Model might help you better capture the evolution of your family business over time both in terms of the descendants driving this evolution and its outcomes.

Wondering what the Cluster Model means for you and your family business? Do you need some guidance on seeing your family business through this lens? Contact a Family Business Matters consultant today. Through conferences, continuing education programs, family business retreats, speaking engagements and private family business consulting services, Family Business Matters has assisted more than 450 family-owned businesses around the world chart their way through family business issues of all shapes and sizes.

This post is the second in a series by Rania Labaki highlighting the Top Ten Family Business Facts. To view the previous post in this series, follow this link. To review the full Top Ten Family Business Facts and to access a list of original resources, please visit our Family Business Facts page.


Rania Labaki – Author Bio

Rania Labaki

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This Sliding Bar can be switched on or off in theme options, and can take any widget you throw at it or even fill it with your custom HTML Code. Its perfect for grabbing the attention of your viewers. Choose between 1, 2, 3 or 4 columns, set the background color, widget divider color, activate transparency, a top border or fully disable it on desktop and mobile.