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Thoughts from a Fellows Lunch

The PractitionerThis week’s issue is a provocative summary of an FFI Fellows Lunch held in Boston in June. The topic? What would be “most helpful” to the field in the next 10-15 years.
The Fellows Lunch began with brief personal comments, sharing accomplishments, challenges, life stage expectations, and methods for recharging our batteries. We then refocused the conversation on our joint views on what would be helpful for the field of family enterprise in the coming 10 – 15 years. We hope you find these ideas stimulating and in some cases provocative – and that you will consider sharing your own ideas with The Practitioner in the coming months.

  • Develop a theory of practice.
    • A theory of practice is an overarching structure within which best practices, guidelines etc. reside. It attempts to answer fundamental questions about our work, such as, “What are your goals, in your work with this family enterprise?” and “What are the limits and scope of your role in your work with this family?”
    • Such a theory of practice occurs in the development of any profession, and is linked to the best available research, coupled with the deep experience of seasoned practitioners.
    • Although there has been tremendous movement toward structuring the profession and even some beginning research on practice, there is still no theory of practice` such as is held by other professions, e.g., medicine, the law and psychoanalysis. Defining and describing how we practice and setting standards for what we do is a critical next step in our development as a profession. Do we need a unifying set of principles, including ethics, standards, goals, and desired outcomes for practice? If so, how will it be created?
    • The Fellows present agreed that this would be a good next step and an appropriate one for the larger group of Fellows to tackle.
  • Take the high ground.
    • We explored how going forward family enterprise consultants might claim more territory since the field has come a long way from where it was in the late 1980’s and 1990’s. Now we have certificates and credentials – and we have a brand that is increasingly recognized among more family enterprise owners and stakeholders who turn to FFI for courses and expert practitioners for help from a widening group of professionals across the globe.
  • Cover more ground.
    • The group turned its attention to exploring the possibility of tying family enterprise successes to countries where the national economies could gain enhanced growth and stability. For example, in countries where women’s financial development has increased via FINCA, etc., family enterprise consultation might focus attention on the husbands in those communities and countries to promote better family functioning and enhanced family business development. To assist with the development of skilled professionals in emerging economies, FFI could explore the possibility of internship-type opportunities, arranged via existing organizations and governments or institute a program modeled on Doctors Without Borders, and other such efforts, to have successful projects. Programs of these types would have the additional benefit of fostering greater awareness of FFI and our body of knowledge.
  • Become better acquainted with the next generation of advisors and consultants.
    • With the development of the GEN program, FFI is welcoming more and more next gen consultants – roughly 50% of FFI members have joined in the last five years. However, there is not a structured way for the Fellows to engage with the next gen members so that the Fellows can both share experience and gain wisdom from the next generation of FFI.

About the contributor:

David ParadiseDavid Paradise has over thirty years of extensive business, organizational consulting, and clinical experience. He is on the steering committee of the New England Chapter of the Family Firm Institute, as well as a founding member of the local interdisciplinary Family Firm Institute New England Chapter MetroWest Study Group, and an FFI Fellow.  David is a member of the Crimson Consultants’ Collaborative, a  group initiated by Harvard Business School MBA’s.

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