Building a Culture of Family Sustainability

In transitioning leadership and ownership to a rising generation, successful family enterprises (family business, family office, foundation) enter a new world.

They have more family members growing up and seek change and renewal in family and business. They need to develop a family organization independent of the business, whose rules and practices express the family’s goals, values and desires, and are understood and accepted by everyone.

In the first generation a family can make decisions informally. But by the second generation the family needs to create policies and practices that enable the family and business to move forward, interconnected but more and more independently. Family Governance is the process of creating clear structures and agreements that align and organize the family enterprise to take care of the divergent needs of individuals, families, business and community activities. I guide families to develop appropriate and effective governance.

My 100-year Family research has found that in moving across generations, two “pillars” evolve that anchor and organize the family for success.

Family Council

An elected group that meets regularly to design and manage agreements, expectations, practices and policies within the family and about their businesses. Councils define the family values and vision, and create rules for using their wealth and becoming involved in family enterprises, in consultation with all family members.

Owners Council

They ensure that the family enterprises achieve their mission, maintain their values, and reach their goals. They also set up a Board of Directors, that oversees and guides the various family enterprises.

The shared set of values, policies, practices and agreements are collected as a Family Constitution.

Together all these activities can become complex and contentious. The family needs a wise and firm guide to help put them together; it is not a quick or simple process, and often takes place over a year or two. I help the family define what they need and create these governance practices.


Aligning Family Stakeholders

Helping family members manage their involvement in business, asset management, and philanthropy and perpetuate their legacies, by forming family bonds, shareholders’ assemblies, management teams and family constitutions that define and implement the values, mission and expectations.


Succession & Renewal

For the business to operate effectively the focus must be on strategic planning, installing an effective management team, working with non-family executives, and creating a board that allows appropriate ownership involvement and effective business development.


Coaching for Personal and Professional Development

Growing up in the shadow of a powerful founder can be a challenging experience. Young people need support and coaching to create development plans to achieve their potential. I help family members to assess their personal capabilities, discover their most effective roles, and find ways to make a difference in the family and in the world.


Communication, Inheritance and Conflict Resolution

Families have painful issues that need healing, and differences that are hard to discuss. They influence the process of inheritance, developing capable heirs, and sustaining family connection. Family concerns include fairness, expectations between generations, and healing past hurts and misunderstandings. I help individuals talk openly about difficult issues and resolve conflict, establish positive family connections, and help pass their legacy to the next generation.


We the People, to Form a More Perfect Union

Who needs a family constitution? The future harmony of your family and continuity of your business may well depend on going to the trouble of writing one.

United We Stand - Transition to Third Generation in Family Business

The grandchildren of entrepreneurs must pull together to overcome the governance and succession issues that cause nearly ninety percent of family businesses to fail by the third generation.

Guiding Governance: Clarifying the Practice of Family Enterprise Governance

A wealthy family cannot function truly as a democracy since certain family members may need to be responsible for some decisions as owners, fiduciaries or elders. Yet there are serious long-term risks in one person holding all the reins of power. Finding the best middle-ground for decision making in the family requires setting up healthy mechanisms to balance the twin goals of inclusiveness and leadership.

Can the Values-First Company Survive?

Business today is no respecter of the past. Family companies have to renew values that are energizing and revise those that prevent them from competing.
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