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Family businesses have common recipes for success 

Bluso, Linda L. "Family Businesses Have Common Recipes for Success." Crain's Cleveland Business. Oct. 2016



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At Adaptive Knowledge Institute we assist our clients with leadership succession planning and transitions, leadership development, and family business issues. We hope that you’ll find the information interesting and useful.

Meet the AnyOnes Company, a fourth generation family business, having leadership transition and other family business issues. In this and subsequent newsletters we will share AnyOnes Company’s family business leadership issues. The facts have been fictionalized and the names have been changed. Any coincidences in names or facts are just that, coincidental.  

Starting the Succession Planning Conversation: 

Part 1

John Hill is a 66-year old G3 (third generation family member) and CEO of AnyOnes Company, an aviation parts manufacturing business located in the Midwest with annual revenues of $50 million. Started by his grandfather, Otis, it has been a very profitable business over the generations, especially under John’s leadership.  Within the last ten years, however, the industry has been changing at a break-neck speed.  Competition, additive manufacturing and business models are contributing to their VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world. John is feeling the pressure and lately he has hated going to work. So much to consider:  the day-to-day business, the long-view strategies given VUCA, leadership succession, and his need to grow the business so he can comfortably retire.  

One of his sons, 36-year-old Patrick, has been working in the sales department of the company for five years. Patrick has not had a lot of experience in other departments but in his conversations with customers, he is beginning to see the need for the company to explore the benefits of additive manufacturing. The bigger question is about his future. Patrick’s wife, Sarah, has started asking questions about when he is going to take over as president. After all, Patrick left a promising career at Goeing Company. Sarah has begun to resent all the time Patrick spends at work with no promise of her husband succeeding his father. Patrick is wondering too, but he is reluctant to bring up the subject with his father.

First, Patrick doesn’t want his father to think that his son is trying to push him out of the business. Patrick also wants his father to share all his business knowledge, which hasn’t been happening lately because of the day-to-day demands of the business. When Patrick tries to bring up the idea of additive manufacturing, John shuts it down. In fact, John is not receptive to making any major changes. It seems he is becoming risk-averse. Patrick is convinced that his ideas need to be implemented for the future of the business. 

Patrick is stewing. He needs to talk about the future of AnyOnes Company with his father.  

How can he begin the leadership succession conversation? Here’s the APP approach which has worked with some families:

Appreciation: Patrick might begin by letting his father know how much he appreciates the legacy and the assets that have been created by his father and the preceding generations of leaders in the family.

Preservation: Next, Patrick might say what he wants to see happen to the company, i.e., preservation of the legacy and the assets.

Plan: Continuing, Patrick might then suggest the next step to achieving preservation: developing a plan to avoid failure. In order to avert disaster in the case of an unplanned event like death, illness, or disability, there needs to be a plan in place to deal with the inevitable transition in leadership.

In our next newsletter, we will continue our story and share how John can begin the leadership succession conversation with Patrick. Stay tuned…

Ally Rogers
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