Most of the important tools used in consulting with families in business are not carried in a briefcase. Certainly, there is much to be learned from taking classes about business, attending forums about consulting, and spending time with mentors. Over the years I have observed, however, that the most successful consultants for families in business come into the craft with some degree of natural talent. Video conferencing is light years better than just voices over a phone line. Consulting for families in business has always been about finding ways to make things work.
Here is what you need to know going in: you must learn it well enough to teach it. To be a credible facilitator and consultant, when you say you can help, you must know every detail of your plan. Using the Bowen Theory for family business issues is no different than showing someone how to work on a car, walking others through how to play a new game, or even demonstrating the current cool hip hop moves. You must know it well enough to teach it with conviction.
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 […]
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 […]
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. […]
Have 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?
Top Ten Family Business Facts | Fact #2: The Cluster Model Helps Capture the Evolution of Your Family Business Over Time
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
So begins a recent special report on family businesses published by The Economist.
The introduction to this report recalls the “starring role” family companies have played in the development of capitalism, citing the inherent advantage of the “two most important ingredients of growth, trust and loyalty,” and instrumental families we all recognize: the Rothschilds, Fords, and Versaces to name a few.
Recognizing that this kind of historic and economic impact of major family companies has been well documented, the report makes the case that the influence and impact of family companies is still one of the most important forces for economic growth around the world today. The Economist seems to agree with a concept David Landes first laid out in his book, Dynasties, asserting: “You could write a respectable history of capitalism through the lens of family histories. You could write an equally respectable survey of the state of modern capitalism by telling the story of a dozen family firms.”
Further, the Economist writes:
“This special report will argue that family companies are likely to remain a significant feature of global capitalism for the foreseeable future, thanks to a combination of two factors. Family companies in general are getting better at managing themselves: they are learning how to minimise their weaknesses while capitalising on their strengths. At the same time the centre of the modern economy is shifting to parts of the world—most notably Asia—where family companies remain dominant.”
Why is this significant for the families and businesses we serve here at Family Business Matters?
We want to help your family business continue to grow and succeed in the modern economy. We want […]
A successful family business must be poised to prosper for many generations to come. A quick list of necessary items needed to create a successful family business include: alignment on important matters, a shared vision for the company, a detailed action plan, a family constitution, a shareholder agreement, a responsible owner and an official employment policy.
Writing a letter that expresses business advice from the leader of a family business to the successors of the business is an excellent method for examining what is truly important. This exercise allows the family business leader to reflect on the values of the family, review past challenges and provide invaluable family business advice that will provide beneficial guidance.