Alan Spoon, the former President of The Washington Post, spoke at a recent Center meeting and shared some of his experience as a non-family executive in a family held business.
On non-family CEO’s:
A non-family manager during the recruiting process will be especially interested in the growth plans for the business.
They will take into consideration:
- The ambition of the family
- The Strategic Plan for the business
- The family management genuine commitment to growing the business
- Important that “family is 110% committed”
He said one of the worst things a family can do is to say “let’s grow, but they don’t really mean it”
Are you a member of the 70% Club? Approximately 70% of family businesses don’t have formal strategic plans in place. Interestingly, 30% of family businesses successfully transition into the second generation coinciding with the same number of family businesses who have strategic plans.
Simplistically the strategic planning process in a family business is similar to non-family businesses except for having to integrate the family into the plan. That’s a big exception. It’s about getting the founder’s vision down on paper and inviting (trusting) others to be involved in the planning process in a collaborative way. It does stir up sensitive issues like sibling rivalry, family conflict, leadership decisions and estate planning. This is why some consider the planning process to be even more important than the actual final plan, because it forces the family to discuss these un-discussable issues.