Unfortunately, many families become so involved in the day-to-day running of their business that they lose sight of their long-term aspirations.
Investing the time to develop and maintain a shared vision is crucial, as it ensures there are coherent beliefs in place to unify your family and business for the long term.
Prevention Is Better Than Cure
Communication plays an integral role in developing a shared vision -- by regularly taking on board the long-term views and aspirations of its multi-generational members, a family business is better equipped to weather the seas of change from generation to generation.
However, failure to settle on a shared vision can have catastrophic consequences.
David Bentall, Former President and CEO at Dominion Construction Canada, gives an example:
“My dad and my uncle were building an enterprise and they each had a completely different vision. Where were they taking this rocket ship they’d built? …Tragically, looking back on it, it became a contest of wills. My dad and my uncle, after working with each other for 40 years, lost their relationship and the family business was ultimately sold.”
Establishing a structured way of discussing and reviewing the family, its capital and values, can help to resolve hidden conflicts like this before they cause damage.
It results in a more harmonious family and business culture, as everyone recognizes their interdependence and takes better care to maintain their relationships. Because everyone is equally invested – and equally accountable – for the direction the business is heading in, family members feel rewarded for any future success in ways that they genuinely value.
Successful development of a shared vision often involves asking one simple question: why do we choose to be in business together? By constantly looking to address this question through open, clear communication, a family business can adjust its direction according to feedback, putting itself in a strong position to sustain its long-term legacy.