Everyone has heard about arguments in Family Business. Relatives in the business are all together to make key decisions. Two are deadlocked in a toe-to-toe shout-down with one saying, “I’m right!” and the other resolutely insisting “No, I’m right!” Perhaps yet another is trying to jump in with “Look at my idea!” The meeting agenda has dissolved into a process of Ready! Fire! Aim!
There is a tried and true way to end this, and here is an example. We are a group of five colleagues working together. We need to have dinner but would like to continue our work. One colleague asks the others, “What does everyone want to eat?” Instead of naming restaurants, they listened to all comments and agreed on the following:
- Must be suitable to continue our conversation over dinner, so that rules out a noisy place.
- Must be within 3 miles radius, so we don’t lose momentum in our progress.
- Must be able to seat five guests at 7 p.m., since that time suits everyone present.
- Must have selections on the menu that will satisfy one person who is mostly vegetarian.
Notice that there is not high “ownership” for any of the criteria. After we do a quick survey of restaurants nearby, soon one or two stand out.
The operative word is ownership. So often in family business differences are grounded in whose idea is being discussed rather than what is the idea. In the Little Red Book of Family Business it says, “An Idea doesn’t care who has it. It (the idea) has no opinion on the bearer thereof.” It is preferable to establish the criteria and then list the range of options that might be worthy of consideration. Each option is measured against the criteria, not against who proposed the idea. By eliminating the attachment to […]