With the external world quickly evolving, when technology is rapidly changing, markets and information moving at a faster pace, how does a family enterprise ensure its business model is on track to keep up with these changes but is also positioned for sustainable growth? Looking outside the trusted circle of family experts and advisors for fresh perspective and creative advice can often be enlightening and meaningful but a daunting task.
What questions should family stakeholders ask themselves as they think through the challenges of what their business will need as they shift their mindset from being reactive to proactive to meet their changing environment? Where and at what point, does the silo approach of advice-getting and giving get pulled together to direct a cohesive family strategic plan?
Sometimes one of the bigger tasks in assisting a family is not only creating or facilitating plotting out a road map for the future but helping to figure out the appropriate ways in which the family might deal with multiple advisors in achieving that roadmap. It can be a big task to lead the advisors in a team approach that is coordinated, cooperative, and collaborative and assists the family enterprise to manage the tension that ambiguity and complexity produce.
The modern day and future enterprising family needs a modern day approach from its advisors that is less expert driven, more multidisciplinary and executes collaborative, cooperative and teamwork behavior – enter the Chief Collaboration Officer.
Some tips for becoming a successful CCO:
- Park your ego at the door. Creative solutions require that no one person owns the process. Great ideas come from putting great minds together.
- Invest in creating something new by contributing to a shared goal rather than purely supporting your singular goal. Self-interest is never attractive and it is a sure way of derailing the creative process.
- Be a student of the other advisor’s expertise and motivation. Without understanding the outcome each advisor wants, there will be no way to come to a balanced perspective.
- Take on the mindset of a true collaborator. Today’s family enterprise needs many layers of talented people to assist in navigating a rapidly changing world.
- As parents, top executives and the older next generation, think of yourself as a role model. Often the best learning comes from experience and observation of how others navigate relationships and problem solving.
For more insight and family case study you may access the full article here: Chief Collaboration Officer
Family enterprises have long been considered a foundation of the American economy. Many of the most notable family names in our history are connected to long-term family businesses and philanthropies (Ford, DuPont, Rockefeller, Forbes and Johnson). And, the more recent entrepreneurial efforts of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have led to growing wealth for those founders and their families, as well as for those who’ve invested in or worked with them.
But, the world isn’t the same as when these historical families grew their businesses into enterprises. The same characteristics that positively defined family enterprise are being challenged. To deal with the rapid changes in the global economy and information flow, family enterprises need to adjust their thinking and plan more broadly for their futures. Sustainability no longer seems to imply homeostasis, keeping the legacy as is or remaining as before.
Rather than thinking of sustainability as continuing what is, it’s increasingly important to think of it as a process of adapting to and evolving with change so that family resources are preserved or, perhaps, enhanced. To achieve such goals, the family needs to have some best practices in place before larger evolutionary changes are necessary.
- Having a mission, vision and strategic plan for the family provides a roadmap for such decision-making
- Holding meetings of the family and shareholders at least annually
- Conducting a review of the overall family economic growth policies, answering such questions as:
- How long should we continue in our current line(s) of business?
- What would an exit look like for one or all of us?
- What are the markers we’ll need to use to determine continuation in our endeavors?
- What ways can we expand our portfolio of options that will be interesting and rewarding?
Building a stronger foundation as a family to gather as a unit to talk about the challenges they may currently be facing or are likely to face is paramount in order to have the kind of personal connections and understanding of one another that permits these types of discussions. These kinds of connections are built over time with a commitment of resources and effort.
Familial connections also provide process, structure and ease in informing family and shareholders and the format for making rapid decisions. Family members are up-to-date on the status of the company and the other family holdings and can feel connected to the decisions facing them. Those who’ll be living with the decisions should participate in making them. They can feel confident that the path forward toward progress is clear, achievable and sustainable.
For more on best practices to promote family sustainability, click here to read the full article.