04/29/16

Reality Is Bigger

Last week I attended the annual conference of Attorneys for Family Held Enterprises (AFHE). While there, I had the opportunity to hear speakers from a range of professional disciplines: family business advisors, financial planners, psychologists and attorneys.

I was particularly impressed by the clarity of the presentation entitled Engaged Ownership. More Effective Governance for Multi-Generational Family Businesses’ given by Amelia Renkert-Thomas, former CEO of Ironrock Inc., her family’s 5th generation manufacturing business and founding partner of Renkert Thomas Consulting LLC.

In her presentation Ms. Renkert outlines commonly held assumptions about family business and counters them with realities. Here are selected bullet points taken from her slides:

Assumptions

  • Making money is the primary objective
  • Succession is about who will run the company
  • Shareholders are primarily interested in dividends
  • Continuity is the preferred outcome

Reality

  • There is more at stake than money
  • Succession is about preparing for multiple roles
  • Shareholders are primarily interested in shared purpose and vision
  • Continuity of core capital, not necessarily the business

All of these points are ‘tip-of-the-iceberg’ statements, the results of study, thought and experience. They invite investigation, discussion and action. What are your thoughts?

04/2/16

Pulled Into the Future

The leadership, vision and entrepreneurial talent of the founding generation of a family business may be very different than that needed in subsequent generations; and installing a successor who is a copy of the founder may result in the failure of the business to change with an evolving market environment or the growing needs of a larger business.

For example, the business may now have more need of leaders who develop collaborative relationships than those who get things done by themselves, or of strategists who find new opportunities as the size of the family grows.

“Respect the past while keeping an eye on the future.” This important family-business axiom, together with a phrase I read twenty years ago in “Breaking Point and Beyond: Mastering the Future Today by George Land and Beth Jarman“allow yourself to be pulled by the future”–are potent strategies for expansion and growth.