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As Jack Welch, the iconic former CEO of General Electric, once asserted, "There's no such thing as work-life balance. There are work-life choices, and you make them, and they have consequences." This statement rings particularly true when discussing Family Businesses. Proper Strategic Management of these businesses is mandatory to ensure seamless succession planning, conflict management, and sustainability.




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Flevy Management Insights: Family Business


As Jack Welch, the iconic former CEO of General Electric, once asserted, "There's no such thing as work-life balance. There are work-life choices, and you make them, and they have consequences." This statement rings particularly true when discussing Family Businesses. Proper Strategic Management of these businesses is mandatory to ensure seamless succession planning, conflict management, and sustainability.

Seamless Succession Planning

Succession planning in Family Businesses doesn't merely involve passing on the managerial baton; it requires a comprehensive strategy that aligns with the firm's long-term goals. One common pitfall is the entanglement of ownership and management—top-level roles are handed down whether or not the successor is competent.

Implementing a meritocracy approach, akin to what we see in Fortune 500 companies, could be a step in the right direction. While it might be difficult due to traditional norms and potential resistance, this approach warrants consideration. Where qualified family members are not available or interested, External Managers equipped with both the required domain knowledge and the sensitivity towards preserving the family ethos can be explored.

Conflict Management

Conflicts within Family Businesses often stem from the struggle between the rationality of the business and the emotions of the family. This dynamic calls for an exquisite balance—ensuring business decisions don't undermine family relations and vice versa.

An effective strategy used by many successful Family Businesses involves setting up formal platforms for conflict resolution. These channels can be structured Family Assemblies, which occur on a consistent basis, or an impartial Family Council that helps mediate disputes.

Sustainability and Performance Management

Another defining aspect of Family Businesses is sustainability—both at a business and familial level. A key factor influencing this is Performance Management. An integral part of effective Strategic Management, it requires metrics that evaluate not only business performance but also family member contributions.

Digital Transformation and Risk Management

While many Family Businesses tend to be traditional in their approach, adapting to new-age digital solutions is indispensable for survival. Moreover, Digital Transformation can improve Operational Excellence, increase workforce flexibility, and provide substantial cost savings.

Conventional Risk Management strategies may prove inadequate in today's rapidly evolving business landscape. Family Businesses should revisit their risk assessment frameworks, considering their unique structure and dynamics—balancing the urgency of implementing technological solutions against preserving essential family values.

Organizational Culture

"Culture eats strategy for breakfast," a popular phrase attributed to Peter Drucker, highlights the importance of the Organizational Culture. In Family Businesses, the culture is outlined by the family's core values and beliefs, making it an important determinant of behavior, decision-making, and ultimately business performance.

Cultural Audit: To cultivate a healthy Organizational Culture, conducting regular Cultural Audits becomes necessary. These audits can reveal potential amplifiers and inhibitors of productivity—helping to maintain a balance between family traditions and modern business practices.

Lastly, it is crucial to remember that every Family Business is unique, requiring a tailored approach for effective management. By consciously learning from the mechanisms of Corporate Governance, Family Businesses can achieve longevity, profitability, and family harmony.

For effective implementation, take a look at these Family Business best practices:


Explore related management topics: Digital Transformation Operational Excellence Performance Management Risk Management Organizational Culture Succession Planning Conflict Management Corporate Governance Conflict Resolution Holding Company Wealth Management




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