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Practice Insights

According to Mark Twain, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” In that light, we are pleased to share an article by Rochelle Mendelsohn that explores the reasons why family enterprises without a strategic plan should consider developing their first and outlines seven tips for advisors working with these organizations throughout the process.

Thanks to Guillermo Salazar, a member of the FFI IberoAmercian Virtual Study Group, for this article reflecting on the value of utilizing Family Diagrams in his consulting work with families over the years.

In this week’s edition, we are pleased to feature a selection of family business cases published in FFI Practitioner earlier this year. These cases can serve as effective tools to incorporate in consulting and educational work with clients and further the FFI Practitioner mission to provide readers with practical materials that support their work with multi-generational family enterprises.

Thank you to this week’s contributor, Gibb Dyer, for sharing insights he’s acquired during his thirty-five years as a family business consultant. We hope you enjoy this week’s FFI Practitioner in which the authors identifies five factors that assist family enterprises to grow and transfer their family capital to the next generation.

Thank you to this week’s contributor, Patricia Angus, who continues our series of FFI Practitioner articles written by members of the Editorial Committee. In this edition, Patricia examines what it truly means to be a “Practitioner” and the impact of ongoing practice when working with family enterprise clients.

FFI strives to advance the field of family enterprise through applied research, providing practitioners with practical applications for research conducted by academics from around the world. An example is the periodic précis written by members of the FBR Applied Research Board. Based on recent articles published in FBR, these précis summarize an article and identify implications and applications for advisers to integrate into their work with families. This week, FFI Practitioner is pleased to highlight selected FBR précis on a variety of family enterprise topics.

Welcome to the first issue of the 2019 FFI Practitioner. What better way to look forward than to talk with one of the founders of the family enterprise field? We hope you enjoy this interview with David Bork, a legend in the field and, 50 years later, still a pioneer.

Family business cases can serve as powerful tools to integrate into consulting and educational work with clients. Cases provide an engaging way for family enterprise members to recognize issues similar to the ones they face, helping evaluate potential, less emotionally-charged solutions. To further this publication’s mission to provide readers with practical materials that support their work with multi-generational family enterprises, we are pleased to feature a selection of family business cases previously published in FFI Practitioner.

Thanks to Gaia Marchisio for this week’s article which discusses the importance of recognizing and addressing strong beliefs about “universal truths” and misconceptions in the field of family enterprise. In this article, Gaia urges advisers to avoid becoming too narrow-minded and entrenched in an established way of thinking. Instead, she encourages advisers to maintain an outsider’s perspective on conventional family business truths that are often taken for granted.

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.