“One of the first things we lose as our companies grow is our innovative and entrepreneurial thinking – here’s how to gain it back”
As our businesses grow we struggle with the balance between being too hands-on and too far removed from the operations of the business. We’re encouraged to delegate and develop employees, which tends to draw us further away from the hands-on more entrepreneurial tasks of the business. In it’s extreme form, delegation can feel like we are just “managing managers”. Conversely, being too-hands on, pulls us away from thinking strategically, because we’re too caught up in the day-to-day routine tasks of running the business.
In our family business our parents encouraged us to reach out for new ideas by continuing to learn and meet with people outside of our industry. How do you “keep entrepreneurial” even as your business grows more corporate and formal? More…
“I want you to arrange a meeting with the heads of the five families”
– The Godfather
We pulled up to the clandestine location for the secret, covert meeting. We made sure to cover our tracks and not let anyone know we were gathering. The subject matter was confidential and extremely sensitive. This was how our first family meeting retreat went down.
I’ll give our family credit for trying something new. We are great at finding ways to look at the big picture. But our first family retreat was a little uncomfortable and a lot awkward. Uncomfortable can be good, because it means you’re changing and growing. Awkward is, well, just plain awkward.
Working “In” the Business vs Working “On” the Business
When your business is growing rapidly, you’re totally immersed in the day-to-day running of the business. Rarely do you have the ability to step aside and look at the big picture. You’ve heard it called working ‘in” the business vs working “on” the business.
Most family businesses are motivated to begin strategic planning because of a crisis or difficult situation. In our case, our business was facing increased competition and we needed to grow the business more rapidly to remain competitive.
- We needed to formalize our planning and prepare a strategic plan.
- We had to extract our plans from our heads and put it down on paper
- For the first time we were formally discussing the direction of the business
- We needed to get the family on the same page.
- We were inviting more non-family members into decision making positions and committees and needed a plan that could be shared with them.
Up until this point we were riding a wave of success and the sales drove the business direction. We needed to flip this around and determine where we were most successful and effective and create a more deliberate path.
Some random thoughts about family meeting retreats: More…