One can never pen down the contribution of family businesses in developing nations, societies, and the world from time immemorial. Worldwide, they have been and are still the bedrock of the nations’ economies.
The central partnership that forms this bedrock is at the heart of a married couple, aiming to build their life in their lifetime of commitment. This is the partnership between a husband and a wife, at first, before their children are born and form a family.
Unfortunately, the same family that is the singular unit of societal stability, growth, and meaning can be a blessing or a curse, should the family fail to fulfil their silent oath of making life worthwhile for them and others. Family businesses have a pivotal role to play here.
How can they adapt, thrive, and prevail in this age of radical external change across the planet and growing internal challenges?
How could they sail successfully through these radical shifts by changing their one major grassroot habit? What is this grassroot habit that, when exercised, consciously promises to create a long-term winning streak for family businesses?
The key to exercising and building a permanent shift is to learn to think in a structured way. Build a habit of thinking in a structured way. Champion the thinking first, followed by the same pursuit of mastery in structured doing and leading.
Family businesses pride themselves on their unique entrepreneurial spirit and even ways of finding solutions in an entrepreneurial way. Still, their businesses aren’t successful in juggernauting challenges of the current times. Although having an entrepreneurial spirit is a blessing and gives them the competitive advantage, yet doing the work or finding solutions in an unstructured entrepreneurial way is a fatal anchor and a death-trap that keeps them stuck in their pride for entrepreneurial spirit alone.
Family businesses must consciously create an enterprise-wide habit of structured thinking, doing and leading. They must begin this from ownership then percolating down to governance, leadership, and management.
Thinking, doing, and leading in a structured way are central to all decisions, and methods family businesses employ to create long-term and near-term wins in the local and global markets.
What they may need to help themselves with is to ask questions like
- Why act on this?
- Why now?
If the answer to both the above is an astounding yes, then waste no time in making this shift begin and champion it sooner than later.
One of the most significant advantage of being structured in thinking, doing, and leading is productively overcoming the crippling and unavoidable conflicts. In our experience, even the most successful families experience conflicts every now and again.
In family businesses, conflict is unavoidable. Fortunately, our experience overwhelmingly shows that it’s not the presence of conflict that is detrimental to relationships; instead, it is how the conflict is managed. Notice that we have used the word managed and not resolved when referring to conflict. Although it seems counterintuitive to embrace conflict, family conflict is natural and can provide learning and growth opportunities for families who approach it consciously. Hence, we call productive conflicts when a family is poised and has championed the structured ways of thinking, doing, and leading their family, businesses and daily lives.
A few essential behaviours of families of family businesses who adopt and champion structured thinking, doing and leading are as follows:
- They gather around for understanding the problem, not for a solution
- They suspend judgements and aim to understand the problem in the most open and honest form of conversation
- They give confidence to each other on the table for listening to each other intently
- They use writing boards, sticky notes, similar writing instruments & pads for making individual ideas and thinking clear (the tool is not important, clarity is!)
- They build a common page for all to agree on the problem and its root cause – they use problem statements as to their united view on the problem definition
- They create individual solution maps for the problem definition
- They generate and allow others to generate as many ideas as each can to solve the problem within the defined constraints and criterion
- They select one idea of all or the nearest one and sharpen it until the problem statement and desired solution matches its best possible circumstances, constraints, and reservations if any (The idea is no longer an individual’s but a shared one!)
- They create the charter for actioning the solution and create a decision log for the decision been taken while the solution is chosen, defined, and executed
- They assign time, desired outcome details and create within the family a private communication via well-defined email to all, specialized private communication apps (applications) specifically designed for dynastic families, and the most effectively designed family meetings with its communication and alignment administration team builds a systematic and structured meeting format and has a definite advantage.
- Depending on the problem they are solving, they come across a joint impact analysis for the solution before they put into implementation
One of the ways you can begin practicing the above and start championing this is as follows:
- Begin noticing that you as an owner or leader must recognise the importance of structured thinking, doing, and leading – Contemplate and secure your reasons for why would it matter should you have it? Where will it make a difference in most minor things and compound them to long-term impact on happiness, success, and love in the family business?
- Imagine vividly and feel it as deep as you may, the real impact it creates in making the business and the family engage in the most productive ways?
- Begin small step changes for executing your daily ways of thinking, doing, and leading. Follow your progress and encourage others to do the same. You are encouraged to create a learning forum in the family and hire a coach, if you can, who could help you do the same initially. Run these forums with clear learning steps and have fun in doing so. It would be an excellent opportunity to build new skills with love and fun with people who matter most to you.
There are many stages of advancements that we had instilled in the family businesses as they secure a higher championship on the subject and its skill of performing. We can share this at a later stage.
The key is to recognise, realise, and begin with small, consistent daily actions.
Remember, inspiring actions won’t bring desired results. For spectacular results, the actioning must have these stages crossed:
- Inspired actions
- Specific actions
- Consistent actions
- Collaborated actions (with other family members)
A consistent and collaborated actions bring excellent compounding of results beyond the action itself.
I sincerely hope this write up has ignited some thinking and positive inquiry and may even excite you to make appropriate conclusions of your own.
I would like to warn that stakes are too high for family businesses to miss or skip or stay sloppy at their old, unstructured ways of thinking, doing, and leading, but I also assure you that there is too much fun to miss when you champion these essential grassroot habits.
Above all, when the habits take mainstream, the momentum you could build for growth is unparalleled. The returns will be abundant in love, unity, humanity (even), and prosperity beyond recognition.
Good luck and have fun and growth!