Stop The Family Argument By Deciding How To Order Dinner

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:

  1. Must be suitable to continue our conversation over dinner, so that rules out a noisy place.
  2. Must be within 3 miles radius, so we don’t lose momentum in our progress.
  3. Must be able to seat five guests at 7 p.m., since that time suits everyone present.
  4. 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 […]

Reduce Anxiety During This Crisis For Your Family Business

Your job managing the family business did not come with a crystal ball. But now, you are getting calls and emails from family members, employees, vendors, suppliers, city officials, the local press, and never-before-heard-from stakeholders about what is going to happen to the enterprise that supports so many. Let me give you a proven solution: appoint an Ombudsman.

Boundaries Are Universal

The single most important issue in family business, above all the other important ones, is boundaries. Failure to establish and adhere to proper boundaries is the cause of more disruption than any other issue.

Step 1: Alignment And Core Values–You First

Alignment is how learning to resolve family issues begins, and this is how my self-study course, Re-Imagining Relationships For Families In Business begins. My use of the concept of alignment is meant to be a 3D acceptance of your basic core values.

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. […]

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

The Importance of Trust in Family Business

trust_fallTrust in family business is a critical issue. Strong relationships which are based on trust and communication build equality and respect - not power and control. Trust can be built, measured, tested and repaired. It is a way of reducing uncertainty in interpersonal and organizational settings and is necessary for cohesive and productive professional relationships.

Families Who Learn Together Stay (in Business) Together

A+One way to build relationships is for family members to learn together by attending conferences, workshops or classes. When multiple family members attend family business education classes together, they learn new skills and ideas and they can discuss those ideas with the rest of the family and determine how those ideas may be of use in their own situation.

The Glue that Holds Families & Businesses Together

Successful family business relationships are key to holding a family business together. Some of the qualities families in business must have to be successful include: shared values, shared power, traditions, willingness to learn and grow, activities to maintain relationships, genuine caring, mutual respect, ability to support each other, privacy and boundaries.

This Is A Custom Widget

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This Is A Custom Widget

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.