Let’s say a family is grappling with the idea of business continuity, but is not actively doing anything about it.
Family members continually debate the merits of being family owned and managed, or family owned and professionally managed. And very often, the conversation maintains the illusion of action but there is no movement – only ambiguity and frustration.
Are you on the endangered species list?
Family ownership and involvement can be a tremendous asset or an issue that proves fatal. When business people spend their own money, they are able to make longer-term investment decisions, ready to act quickly, adapt to change and foster an innovative and entrepreneurial spirit. On the other hand, when participation is dictated by “blood” and blood alone, relationships begin to sour, communication becomes censored, unrealized expectations turn to anger and feelings of injustice abound. Ultimately, the business suffers, and everyone loses.
By asking respondents to agree or disagree with statements like the following, Optimizer720 solicits perceptions on the effect of family participation on business performance.
- Business strategies are aligned to the values/vision of the owner family.
- A clearly defined continuity plan (succession, exit strategy, etc.) exists for owner family members.
- Owner family members are actively groomed for future roles to ensure multi-generational success.
- There are clear guidelines that allow any competent person to reach the top.
Stakeholders can share revealing insights into the way the business is organized and managed. And they can do so without fear that their real feelings will be used against them.
A mirror on the family’s involvement.
Given the way this company has been handling the long-term health of the firm, it is likely that the discrepancy between what is wanted and what is actually happening will surface. There is nothing more powerful than a mirror. Customers and next generation managers might “Disagree” or even “Strongly Disagree” with one or more of the statements, while owner managers and Board members could well voice their agreement. This would throw up a red flag, alerting the owning family to a potential problem – a problem that may have been identified but passed over or discounted.
The insights gained from the Optimizer720 data gathering process can lead to an investigation into why the management continuity process is not meeting expectations and, ultimately, a plan to ensure that the business will continue on in a way that works for family members.