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David Werdiger's Familosophy

Family Succession: Are We Ready Yet?

Are We Ready Yet?

When taking young children for a long drive in the car, we would regularly hear them ask “are we there yet?” Children quickly become bored and impatient, and don’t always have a sense of time (especially if they are too young to wear a watch).

In families, rising generation family members are wondering “are we ready yet?” to take a position of responsibility or leadership within the family enterprise. They have a very keen sense of the passage of time. The family may or may not have the forum where that question can be asked, and even if they do, it may not result in a clear answer. While they may even have something of a succession plan, the incumbents might continue to stall, often with the excuse that “the kids are not quite ready”.

First question to ask is: why is this happening? Most likely, it’s coming from a place of fear on the part of the incumbent generation. Fear of a future when the the family enterprise is no longer a big part of their lives (what will replace it?), and general fear of the unknown. Families need a safe space to discuss these fears, both individually and collectively. Mentors, confidantes and independent advisors can be very helpful here.

So when your children ask “are we ready yet?”, you really need to ask yourself “am I ready yet?”

Consider This: What discussions has your family had about succession? How broad are these discussions – have they allowed the voices of the incumbent generation, the rising generation, and other stakeholders? Are family members able to say what they really think?

Original articles:

Here is more on reading on family succession planning.

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