Family Business Wiki's Town Square

Family Business Wiki's TOWN SQUARE

"When Family Businesses are Best" by Randel S. Carlock and John L. Ward

What's your “elevator speech” when someone asks you “What does it take for a family business to be successful?”


It’s not so easy to provide a meaningful response to this question – in the time it takes to ride an elevator!  When Family Businesses are Best:  The Parallel Planning Process for Family Harmony and Business Success, by Randel S. Carlock and John L. Ward, can help you to craft your elevator speech – and have a clear understanding of the keys to family business success.


There are many things to like about this book.  It includes concepts as well as practical tools and real-world examples; it is culturally sensitive to family businesses around the world; it addresses issues relevant to family enterprises beyond family businesses; and it is intended to be of value to family businesses as well as family business advisors and students.


But what is most impressive about the book is that it has taken a complex field and given it a simple organizational structure.  With this organizational structure in mind, your elevator speech might sound like this: 


“To be successful, family businesses need to utilize three tools:  communication, planning and governance.  ‘Communication’ means coming to a common understanding of values (e.g., Do we want to serve as stewards for future generations?) and vision (e.g., Do we want to grow into a large business?).  ‘Planning’ refers to strategic planning for both the business and the family, and planning to invest both financial and human capital in the business. Governance’ refers to structures for discussion and decision making – like the board of directors and family meetings.”


That’s about the right length for an elevator ride.  If you are riding to the top floor, you can add that the planning process for the family and the business must be done in parallel – in a coordinated manner – because family and business goals are often going in different directions.


The authors describe this new book as a revision and expansion of their previous book Strategic Planning for the Family Business.   Based on feedback from that book, the authors have made this book less academic and more of a handbook for practical planning.


This is a book to be read, and used, and shared.  If your elevator speech hits the mark, you might consider following up by giving this book as a gift – which is sure to be appreciated.




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