In the 1970’s at Harvard University, two professors (John Davis and Renato Tagiuri) developed a model which illustrates in a powerful way how the dynamics of a family engaged in business differs from a traditional (non-family) business. The model – subsequently known as “The 3 Circle Model” – has become a standard within our understanding of family business, across the globe. This is not surprising, since the model accurately and yet simply depicts some of the key and profound ways families in business interact.
Two key values of most families working together in business (and families as a whole) are loyalty and harmony. Who wouldn’t want these in their family after all? And values that are strong in a family are almost always strong in the businesses they run as well. In general, this is a great thing. Loyalty given and received within the business can create longevity in the employees, with lower turnover and deep experience as a result.
One of the questions we regularly ask clients is “do you have an up to date will?” The most common response is an admission that there is no will, or that their will is out of date, “but we are planning to get them updated.” This is very understandable. Wills and other legal documents are put in place less for active management of our day to day affairs, and more for guidance when things are not going the way we would like (eg. death, divorce, partnership break ups, and so on).
At Predictable Futures, we help businesses every week working through the challenges of transitions of ownership and leadership. Still, when it is our own business, all the things we know don’t relieve us of having to go through the same issues as everyone else!
One of the common challenges most businesses experience is planning for leadership transition. When this is complicated by an accompanied ownership transition, the issues can become even more intertwined. Most leaders know when they need to begin preparing for transition (spoiler alert – it is usually sooner than you think!), but the complexities of “changing the guard” can deter them from moving ahead in a clear way. This is especially true when there are also lots of issues in the day-to-day.