03/24/17

Accident and Intention

A young family business—first or second generation—in which the family’s next generation have begun to find their places, has reached a point where two possible paths to becoming a multi-generational enterprise emerge. The incumbent generation can either let things play out willy-nilly—without any plan as to what the business may look like in the future—and perhaps, quite by accident, become multigenerational. Or they can begin with intention.

Intention sets the stage and gets the wheels turning. The thinking starts with what’s possible for the family and the business under future generations.

Starting with intention the current leadership can set their sights on a long-term vision: wealth creation across generations, and a legacy. With this in mind they can then draw upon centuries of knowledge and documented experiences from those families that have created successful multigenerational family enterprises.

To pave a surer path to multi-generational success, start with intention.

03/18/16

Giving Your Best

“My grandfather said to me, ‘Give the world the best you have, and the best will come back to you.’[1]

Upon reading this, a particular family-business story came to mind: A friend of mine, the youngest sibling in a second-generation family business was frustrated by his father’s strong-minded control and by his older siblings’ apparent apathy. He saw that rather than giving their best, his siblings were showing up for work daily but purposefully only “treading water” until they were able to take control of the business.

My friend had left the business once and was about to again because he was unable to give his best within the confines of the family situation.

This complex situation might well benefit from counseling. But my purpose in writing this blog entry is solely to draw awareness to the lost potential for multi-generational family legacies when family members are not raised in a culture of giving their best in whatever role life asks of them.

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[1] Simmons, Annette, The Story Factor, Secrets of Influence from the Art of Storytelling, p. 9, Annette Simmons. Basic Books. 2001.

 

 

10/15/15

It’s All About People

In his October 4, 2015, NY Times column “Corner Office” Adam Bryant presented his interview with Gary B. Smith, CEO of the Ciena Corporation: “Gary Smith of Ciena: Build a Culture on Trust and Respect.” In it Smith shares some of his history, his early influences and how his views changed with experience. In last week’s blog I wrote about how Smith’s management philosophy of creating an environment that people could be successful in is important to the success of family businesses.

This week’s blog: “It’s all about people.” This is another important management principle, one that Smith says he learned early in his career, but that took time for him to truly grasp. “…if you get that right,” he says, “the other stuff will get addressed.”

In family businesses the people are all stakeholders–leaders, family members, team members, staff. The “other stuff:” smoothly running business operations, processes and procedures depends on careful attention to building and maintaining a culture of mutual trust and respect.

For me this means putting relationships first and business transactions second. It’s a philosophy for building a family-business legacy.

If you have thoughts or questions about building relationships of trust and respect within your family and family business, contact me through my website.

This is the second of three important management principles I pinpointed while reading Adam Bryant‘s interview with Gary B. Smith. I’ll share my thoughts on the third: “Differences and Consensus” in next week’s blog post.