Dennis T. Jaffe, PhD

For over 40 years, Dr. Dennis Jaffe has been one of the leading architects of the field of family enterprise consulting. As both an organizational consultant and clinical psychologist, he helps multi-generational families to develop governance practices that build the capability of next generation leadership and ensure ongoing capability of financial organizations and family offices to serve their family clients.

Dennis’s work with families helps inform his training of financial advisors and wealth managers about the knowledge and skills needed to serve their client families. He is an acclaimed speaker and workshop leader in programs for business families and financial service firms.

Current Events

Dennis is currently Senior Research Fellow at BanyanGlobal Family Business Advisors.

His other affiliations include:

In 2021, Family Wealth Report recognized Dennis for his Outstanding Contribution to Wealth Management Thought Leadership. He was cited as one of a hundred global influencers of family enterprise by the UK newsletter Family Capital. Since its inception, he has been an active member of the Family Firm Institute, presenting at annual conferences, serving on the board, designing and delivering educational courses in their GEN program and writing for the Family Business Review. In 2017 he was recognized by the Family Firm Institute for my international work, and in 2004, received their prestigious Richard Beckhard Award for contributions to professional practice.

His global insights have led to teaching or consulting engagements at Hult University in Dubai, the Pacific Asia chapter of Family Business Network, and the Advisory Board of Chinese University of Hong Kong. He is part of the Polaris team working with the Family Business Network to create a roadmap for family and business sustainability, as well as an advisor to KORE Ventures, a program for rising generation family leaders, and Inner Will, a firm to support values in family enterprise.

Publications and Tools

He is author of highly-acclaimed books about global families, Borrowed From Your Grandchildren: The Evolution of 100-Year Family Enterprises (Wiley), Finding Her Voice and Leaving a Legacy: Portraits of Pioneering Women Leading Wealthy Families (Amy Hart Clyne,co-author), Cross Cultures: How Global Families Negotiate Change Across Generations (James Grubman, co-author), Stewardship of Your Family Enterprise, and Working with the Ones You Love.

He is the creator of several widely used tools to help families learn about themselves and constructively grow across generations. The Values Edge uses a deck of cards to help individuals and families create personal and organizational values pyramids. The on-line Family Enterprise Assessment Tool (FEAT), marketed by Premier Growth, enables multi-generational business families to understand the status of their family dynamics and enterprise and explore their areas of difference.

For 35 years, Dennis was professor of Organizational Systems and Psychology at Saybrook University in San Francisco, where he is now professor emeritus. He is a licensed California clinical psychologist, specializing in family therapy. He received his B.A. in Philosophy, M.A. in Management and Ph.D. in Sociology from Yale University.

Previous Activities

He was also named Thinker in Residence in 2007 for South Australia, helping the region design a strategic plan for the future of Australian entrepreneurial and family businesses. He was a researcher for the JP Morgan 2005 study of best practices of multi-generational families, and a more recent study of succession in Asian families. In 2010 he was a visiting professor at the undergraduate family business program of Stetson University.

Dennis has been a frequent contributor to periodicals such as Family Business, Trusts and Estates, The STEP Journal, Tharawat, Journal of Financial Planning, the New York Times, Private Wealth, Journal of Wealth Management, and Worth magazine. His work has been featured in Inc., NPR Marketplace, Entrepreneur, Time and The Wall Street Journal, and he was profiled in People Magazine. In 2005 he received the Editor’s Choice Award from the Journal of Financial Planning for his article on family business strategic planning.

Active in nonprofit governance, he is a Director of the board of the Center for Mind-Body Medicine, which offers global programs for trauma relief and healing traumatized communities, and also served on the boards of the World Business Academy, and Saybrook University.

Pioneering Work in Values-Based Organizations and Holistic Medicine

As a founder and contributor to the field of organizational transformation and change leadership, Dennis co-authored a dozen influential management books, including Getting Your Organization to Change, Rekindling Commitment, and Take this Job and Love It! As founder of Changeworks Global, he guided organizations and family businesses to long-term change by unleashing the power of their employees. His research on the governance of start-up companies, After the Term Sheet is an important contribution to the field of entrepreneurship. He is co-creator of Mastering the Transition Curve, StressMap, and other tools that support personal and organizational success.

For three years, Dennis was co-editor of The Inner Edge, a magazine focused on spirituality in business. He was deputy director for research at the Macarthur Foundation sponsored Healthy Companies Network from 1992-95. As co-founder of the web firm MemeWorks, he pioneered on-line executive development tools. The video Managing People through Change was voted one of the Best Products of 1991 by Human Resource Executive. In the 70s, his holistic health books, From Burnout to Balance (retitled and reissued as Self-Renewal), and Healing From Within, were each honored with the Medical Self-Care Book Award. He was co-author of the international bestseller, TM: Discovering Inner Energy and Overcoming Stress. In 1978 he was President of the Association for Humanistic Psychology.