Handling difficult conversations in multi-generational family firms was central to CFB’s latest family business seminar for next generation members. Professor Justin Craig from Northwestern University, Chicago, spoke about the changing roles within family business that can lead to challenges and misunderstandings.
Prof. Craig encouraged attendees to acknowledge the various outlooks and difficulties of both incumbent and incoming family business members. “The issues are the same, the perspectives are different” he claimed.
Prof. Craig advised family members on maintaining family harmony in ways such as appointment of independent directors to the board, determining unity of purpose and implementing the 70/30 rule whereby next generation members spend 30% of their time collectively working on a project, new product, etc.
Preparation for next generation involvement is essential according to Prof. Craig. “We should put in the policies before we need them”, he stated. “Prepare the next generation to be ready, willing and capable.”
The seminar was held at the newly opened Teeling Whiskey Distillery which is family owned and run by brothers, Jack and Stephen Teeling. Managing director of Teeling Whiskey Company (TWC), Jack Teeling spoke of his experience being in a business family, which involved working for his father at Cooley Distillery and now managing TWC with his brother.
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