Planning Together

for Succession

A successful family enterprise must be renewed and transformed every generation. The family together must develop a clear vision proceeding from their values, and a Roadmap for getting there. This process is guided by a committed and capable cross-generation team that develops the family and the business, and serves individuals, the family as a whole, the business and society.

Next Generation Development

Each new generation must get to know each other, and renew their commitment to the family enterprise. They must decide if they want the family enterprise to continue, and how they want to be part of it. To do this, they need to meet on their own as a generational team, and then work with the existing leaders to design a process for innovation, transition and succession.

The family also needs to support and help each member of this new generation to attend to their personal development, and learn new skills to serve the family in various governance roles. They may want to develop family education programs.

Cross-Generational Roadmap

To reach the next generation, the family must anticipate what they need in the future, while respecting the legacy and values of the past. This is a challenge; different family members have different needs and perspectives. A family often needs an advisor to work with them to design their Roadmap. By convening a steering committee of key family members, representing different generations, the family can listen to and align the many perspectives and design a plan for change and innovation.

Sustainability and the Family Enterprise

This new direction often comes about through the leadership of the rising generation. After creating wealth, a family enterprise holds values about the future that have to do with making a difference in their community and the world. Next generation families are as concerned with their social and philanthropic vision as with business development. The family has to look at the long-term impact they want to have with their wealth and other forms of family capital, and implement their social vision.

For the past three years I have worked with the Family Business Network, a global organization, to implement their Family Sustainability Pledge, known as the Polaris Initiative. I helped create materials and cases for families to hold a family sustainability conversation, to imagine and create their vision for a global sustainable future.

Resources

Introducing the Next Generation Family Champion

Timo Recker is a 29-year-old third generation family member of a successful German meat production company. While the business is successful and growing, he knows that meat production is costly to the food chain, and, more people can be fed if they eat fewer meat products. He wanted to do something that leveraged the skills within his family, which also help create a sustainable future.

Succession Begins on the First Day of Work

By using the ‘four phases of succession’ a family business owner can pinpoint precisely where the business is and then smoothen the transition to the next generation. But the key is to take painstaking care during the early phases.

Family Business as a Model for Sustainability and Social Responsibility

Our study has interviewed family owners of nearly 50 large family enterprises, many of them lasting more than a century so far, who have passed their values and legacy across several generations. They have seen a shift in the past two generations from paternalistic leaders, who ran the business for the family members, to greater engagement and participation by increasing numbers of family owners who are creating an active community of family owners who use the family wealth and enterprise to express shared values and fulfill obligations to current and future generations and communities. They have moved from paternalistic management to a more democratic, engaged and participatory form.
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