Dennis T. Jaffe, PhD

Helping Enterprising Families

Resources for Family Governance & Leadership Across Generations

Succeeding as a family business over generations is an incredible challenge few families manage well. Over a 40-year career, as professor, organizational consultant and family therapist I have helped families with a family business, family office or family foundation, overcome personal, organizational and governance challenges that get in the way of successful and fulfilling generational transfer of businesses, wealth, values, commitments and legacies. My research, writing, and practice tools have helped define the field of consulting about family business and wealth.

These complex challenges cannot be resolved quickly or easily. When a family achieves alignment around its vision, magical things can happen. When they make the commitment to work together, I help work with them to develop a roadmap towards the future, and develop the skills, agreements and practices that make their journey successful.

Family Consulting & Education

A family business consultant works with the family to build the family vision, agreements and infrastructure to make the transformations necessary to build a strong, vibrant and energized next generation. The consultant helps the family become an aligned family team where each person understands and acknowledges their roles and responsibilities, and which builds on all forms of family “capital” to thrive for another generation. I work with families large and small over time to make this happen.

Family Meetings

Coming together as a
Cross-Generational Team

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Building a Culture of
Family Sustainability

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Succession Planning

Designing for a lifetime of
Multiple Generations

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Advisor Education

Guiding institutions for
Effective Leadership

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Resources & Tools

For many years, I have sought to create accessible, practical tools and resources that help global family enterprises navigate the rough waters of crossing generations. This section offers a selection from my work, most of which can be used and downloaded at no cost. I welcome feedback and comments from my readers.

Articles & Working Papers

A full library of the papers I’ve written related to Family Wealth and the Advisors who work with them

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Publications & Tools

A selection of my most sought after publications and cross-generational tools for effective family meetings

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My work with families helps inform financial advisors and wealth managers about the knowledge and skills needed to serve their client families. I’m an acclaimed speaker and workshop leader in programs for business families and financial service firms.

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This book explains the practical, commonsense strategies that families in each culture can use to resolve the differences threatening the fabric of the family.
This book offers practical guidance for families moving across generations by sharing practices, skills and activities that can help them along this path.
Acclaimed guide for families about the challenges of working together—how to deal with conflict, succession, work roles, planning for the future and other predictable aspects of combining work and family.

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Featured Thinking

Cross Cultures – Recently Featured in New York Times

Each family that runs its own business also has its own culture, say two psychologists who work with wealthy families. And understanding those cultures — which these psychologists break down into three groups — can make it easier to resolve intergenerational or cross-cultural conflicts that arise as the business matures and expands.

The psychologists, James Grubman and Dennis T. Jaffe, last year published a book that offers a framework for understanding the three cultural approaches that they say prevail in family businesses. The “individualists,” who tend to be clustered in North America and Western Europe, foster creativity at the employee level. The “collective harmony” view, which prevails in parts of Asia, views family and business as an integrated whole.

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Governing the Family Enterprise

Just Released: New Working Paper from Wise Counsel Research

Upon reaching the third generation, business families face a set of new challenges. Internal and external forces threaten the family’s ability to continue as partners. But the potential for what they can do if they decide to continue is incredible. A family reaching this milestone faces a choice point — should we continue together as a financial or business entity, or just distribute what we have and let each household more forward in their own way? A few courageous families make a conscious decision to continue united. By sharing the experience of families who have successfully crashed through this barrier, we offer a roadmap of the hard work and expansive outcomes that result.

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After Success: What’s Next

I recently had the opportunity to address the Tugboat Institute, a gathering of entrepreneurs who are focused on long-term values in their companies.

Dave Whorton, founder of Tugboat:

For Evergreen entrepreneurs, building a company that will last more than 100 years means taking great care with transitions such as transferring leadership within our businesses and transferring wealth, values and stewardship within our families. In his Tugboat Institute Summit 2016 talk, Dennis Jaffe of Wise Council Research says that by fostering a spirit of transparency, engagement and shared learning, Evergreen leaders will inspire a future generation of courageous business innovators.


See the featured video here.