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“Succession” & Strategic Renewal in Family Business

By Succession PlanningApril, 2023March 18th, 20243 min read
succession & strategic renewal

Family business succession plans (or the ideas for them that are embedded in the minds of the incumbent generations) are often loaded with assumptions. For example: that the “presumed/nominated successor” wants to join the family business, that they are a like-for-like replacement of the incumbent, that the business should largely keep doing what it does for the foreseeable future.

Any robust business (or organisation such as the family that controls the business) should be prepared to challenge assumptions on a regular basis. Unfortunately, family business do this less than other businesses for several reasons. Firstly, the attributes of grit and self-belief so essential for any founder make it hard for them to adapt and change. Also, family members stay in executive roles in family businesses for much longer, which can lead to them becoming stale.

Rather than using terms like “succession” which can carry assumptions like the ones mentioned, it’s more helpful to think of “continuity” and to do so in the broadest terms (i.e. not just the business in its present form, but the family as a evolving system).

In many fields, education has shifted from training people for specific occupations to teaching people the skills to learn new skills, and to take on jobs that don’t yet exist. One of the most important skills the rising generation must learn is to be adaptable and open to regular strategic renewal, rather than to be carbon copies of their parents.

Consider This: what assumptions are implicit in your family’s (documented or not) succession plan? what skills is the rising generation in your family learning that will serve them in future leadership roles?

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Here is more on reading on family business succession planning.

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