Working on Governance - The Journey is the Destination - My Takeaways

Posted on Wednesday, June 16th, 2021
by Dan Beenken

First, I just want to thank everyone who joined us for Session 5 – our last session of the 2020-2021 Season!  We had another great crowd and look forward to continuing to see you and your families at future events – including our upcoming Family Host with Fareway in Boone! 

We had a great panel of business families and consultants engaging with our members – covering all sorts of areas of family governance from policies to vision, legacy, and where to start with all of this.    

As I always try to do with our Breakfast Series sessions, I wanted to put together my top 3 “Nuggets of Knowledge” that I took away:

  1. The Journey IS the Destination – Developing family governance can often be focused on the “ends” – the actual policies that are developed (employment, compensation, conduct, etc.) While those documents are important, it’s the journey that really matters.  It’s the conversations that happen to create all of this that really matters.  At one point during Frank Costanza’s “Festivus” holiday is a step known as “The Airing of Grievances”.  While I don’t want to encourage families to get into arguments and Jerry Spring-type moments, it’s critical that HEALTHY communication happens.   Truth has to come with Kindness.  As we learned in a session last year- you have to serve things up as a Truth and Love sandwich.
  2. Everyone Should be at the Table – I see this as the most important takeaway from our last session.  Choosing to exclude a “married in” or a non-active family member or any other family is a recipe for failure.  It’s only going to create side-bar conversations, animosity from being left out, and other negative consequences.  In a sense, it’s really just kicking the can down the road when you decide to exclude folks from the conversation.  The issues and people are not going away, so it’s best to deal with them before mole hills become mountains. 
  3. Start with your Vision and Values – A family will normally want to jump in and develop policies.  They’ll want to find a template from another family or off a web search and start filling in the blanks.  The thinking is you’ll have something tangible to show for your efforts as a family and you can “check it off the list”.  The reality is you’ve got to have a firm foundation to get any of that done.  You’ll quickly see that the underlying conflicts and triangular relationship issues aren’t solved or going away and will ultimately come up in harmful ways if you try to move too fast with governance.  Start with a common Vision – use that as a spring board to everything else.