Family enterprises form the majority of businesses large and small in every country in the world. At the same time, few are able to sustain themselves with the same level of wealth and success even into their second generation and sustaining shared family wealth after the third generation is nearly improbable.
Overcoming these challenges is the subject of a revealing new book, Borrowed from Your Grandchildren: The Evolution of 100-Year Family Enterprises (Wiley, Feb. 26, 2020), by Dennis Jaffe, a leading architect of family enterprise consulting. As each generation of a family enterprise becomes larger and more complex, the book describes how the family must evolve through internal and external challenges to remain cohesive.
It is the themes from the book, based on his interviews with over 100 family businesses around the world that have lasted more than a century, that are the basis of our latest podcast.
Key questions that we covered during the podcast include:
1. Why study long-term family businesses? What’s special and important about them?
2. You interviewed 100 large global family businesses that had been together for more than three generations, as a successful family and business. There are so few of them, even though they are large and important. Why study them?
3. You say these families are “generative”. value-creating. What do you mean by that?
4. We hear about shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves, and about how families sell or lose their business, and other negative stories about family business. Your generative families you report, are resilient. What does that mean?
5. In what ways did you find that these families manage to grow and innovate over generations? How do they build innovation into their family culture, rather than just feel comfortable with their considerable wealth?
6. We hear all about how the young generations of family business are entitled, or not well equipped for leadership. What did the families in your study manage to develop successful leadership and commitment for several generations?
Check out the Family Business Insight podcast with Dennis here