The role of the family business consultant has been coming of age since the formation of the Family Firm Institute (www.ffi.org) in 1986. Since then a multidisciplinary group of service providing professionals has been forming consulting models and setting protocols. After years in the design, FFI developed a Certificate for Family Business Advising that Rick holds the Advanced Certificate with a Fellows status – it is the highest designation and there are less than 200 such fellows in the world.
Every family business is unique – although most have common issues. Therefore, family business consultations are also unique to fit the situation at hand. Normally, we follow a 4-step consultation process: 1) diagnosis, 2) education, 3) evaluation, and 4) the development of an action plan.
1Diagnosis of current conflicts is a key to a successful engagement. To accomplish this, some survey tool, commonly the Aspen Family Business Inventory, is used in conjunction with personal one-on-one confidential interviews. It is important to include all stakeholders in this process so that everyone has “voice.”
2After an informal educational workshop where the stakeholders are familiarized with typical family business conflicts and best practices, the results of the surveys are discussed objectively at a family meeting. The intended outcome of this meeting is to identify and prioritize the top few conflicts and to establish some action steps toward resolving those conflicts.
3As conflict becomes more manageable and less invasive, additional issues are addressed. While addressing the development of an Action Plan to address conflicts, the family and business management will begin to establish “best practices” for family firms.
4Once the best practices become embedded in the ongoing operation of the business, conflict becomes considered a normal outcome of relationships and it is embraced as routine and manageable. One best practice that we aim for with each consultation is the drafting of a Family Constitution to digest policies and agreements into a written format for all to ratify. Once all stakeholders have agreed to the terms and conditions of a Family Constitution, usually family harmony has been achieved.
Because this process is very personal, Rick prefers to conduct all aspects of the consultation. His experience and skills are the keys to successful results. Please review the testimonials from satisfied clients on this site.