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Practice Insights

Thanks to Chris Casey for sharing his thoughts on what success means in family firms and some of the difficulties he encountered as he worked on his dissertation “Defining success in family firms using configurational fit: A quantitative study of family-owned construction firms” from Capella University.


This week’s FFI Practitioner addresses an often overlooked, but critical phase of the consulting process – contracting. Thank you to Judi Cunningham and Wendy Sage-Hayward for sharing this article that highlights the importance of contracting as an ongoing process, rather than a one-time discussion, and describes two levels of contracting that appear within an engagement.

Thank you to this week’s contributor, Tom Hubler, for reflecting on his more than thirty-five years as a family business consultant and sharing some valuable insights he’s gained during that time. We hope you enjoy reading about Tom’s experience and learning about what he refers to as the “soul” of family businesses.

As an adviser, what can you do when the owner/CEO who hires you is wrong? According to Bruce Walton in this week’s edition, an objective board of directors can serve as a valuable ally to confront a misguided CEO and to get the company moving in the right direction. To illustrate his point, Bruce shares some anecdotes of how a board can help in these tricky situations.

For this week’s edition, we are excited to share an interview between Russ Haworth, host of the Family Business Podcast, and Kim Eddleston and Roland Kidwell about their presentation at the upcoming FFI Global Conference. Their presentation is titled “The Diversity of Deviance: How breaking the rules can hurt (and help) families and family firms,” which will address the different types and outcomes of deviance as well as covering how to use deviance in the family and family firm to improve performance.

One of the primary goals of FFI Practitioner is to provide readers with thought-provoking and practical articles to improve the services they offer to their family enterprise clients and the field in general. To further this mission, this week, we are pleased to feature a selection of articles addressing common topics, across disciplines, that can be used as examples or conversation starters with clients.

The month-long FFI Practitioner series dedicated to the theme of “Reflections” continues this week with a very special interview with Dennis Jaffe, author of the recent working paper titled, “Resilience of 100-Year Family Enterprises: How Opportunistic Innovation, Business Discipline, and a Culture of Stewardship Guide the Journey Across Generations.” In this interview, hosted by Russ Haworth, Dennis reflects on some of the key takeaways from his study of nearly one hundred successful family enterprises.

The month-long FFI Practitioner series of pieces relating to the theme of “Reflections” continues this week with an article by the co-chair of FFI Practitioner editorial committee, Jamie Weiner. In this article, Jamie reflects on his own experience growing up with a father who was a “giant” in his community and explores the importance of creating rites of passage for next gen family business members to create their own identity and find their voice when succeeding a parent who is a “giant.”

Thank you to Patricia Angus of the FFI Practitioner editorial committee for kicking off a month-long series of editions relating to the theme of “Reflections.” In this week’s edition, Patricia reflects on the complexities of defining some key terminology in the field. In upcoming weeks, we’re excited to continue this reflective theme with pieces by Jamie Weiner, Ken Moores, Paul Chung and Chin Chin Koh, and an interview with Dennis Jaffe. We hope you enjoy the series!

How can learning the skills required by an actor make you a more effective adviser with your clients? Listen to this week’s interview with Mark Bagnall, a skilled stage performer and “artist-in-residence” for the 2018 FFI Global Conference to learn more about how you can utilize these skills to become a better adviser. Thank you to Russ Haworth, host of the Family Business Podcast, for interviewing Mark and giving us a sneak peek of what to expect from Mark’s sessions in October.

How can advisers utilize the creative process and even mask-making to help family businesses address and resolve conflict? For this week’s edition, we are thrilled to share an interview between Russ Haworth, host of the Family Business Podcast, and Charlotte Dillon and Oliver Hallam about their presentation at the upcoming FFI Global Conference. Their presentation is titled “Unmasking Imagination and Creativity” and will be a mask-making workshop to explore how creativity can mediate family business solutions.

This week’s FFI Practitioner concludes our two-part series commemorating the 40th anniversary of the influential Three-Circle Model. Thank you to FFI Fellows Pramodita Sharma and John Davis for sharing their insightful conversation about future the future of the model, research, and the field.

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the legendary Three-Circle Model, FFI Practitioner is excited to share two editions about the model during the month of June. For the first edition, we’d like to thank Pramodita Sharma for her interview about the inception and impact of the model on the field with one of its two creators, John Davis.

When an unexpected disaster strikes, and family members are unaware of a patriarch or matriarch’s end-of-life care wishes, then decisions about how to proceed can create deep-seated and long-lasting conflict that can destroy a family business. This week’s contributors, Mitzi Perdue and Jane Beddall share insights from their experiences and advice about how to address this sensitive subject with your clients.

Thanks to this week’s contributor, Harvey Taraday of TCH Partners LLP for his comprehensive examination of an often utilized but seldom examined step of the consulting process, the engagement letter.

Thanks to this week’s contributors, Annie Koh and Esther Kong of Singapore Management University for providing a new perspective on how family business advisers can create trust and forge sustainable partnerships with the next generation. Their suggestion? The adviser should play the role of a Connector, Collaborator, and even a Co-Investor.

As we conclude the special issue series, we would like to thank the FFI Practitioner editorial committee for their hard work and this week’s authors, Judi Cunningham and Wendy Sage-Hayward for sharing their insights on the impact that an advisor’s unconscious biases can have in their work.

Usually the most prized thing that we as established practitioners lose is our creativity. Once a niche is carved and sustained over decades of hard work, inevitably, at some point in time, complacency sets in.

I think advisors recognize that business owners have an added level of complexity in their lives — this holds true for wealth-holding families as well. This complexity is just a natural part of the system.

Thanks to Paul Karofsky and Kirby Rosplock for this interview on managing change in your family business practice.