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8 Jun 2015

Family Business Decision Making Tips

There is a web of relationships that family business decision making must navigate.

Family business decision making has to find its way through a web of family relationships.

Family businesses are webs of relationships. These work outside of formal lines of command. Some family members do not make decisions. That does not mean they do not have a say though. This makes family business decision making very fluid.

A colleague had asked me what decision-making process works best for them. I told him there is not a best one. It depends on many factors. I gave him some tips though.

What is the Change?

One factor is the degree to which change will come into play. This can be a strategic change of direction or some small form of organizational change.

Small changes could be handled by routine decision-making processes. Large changes will need some form of change leadership and strategic planning. This will involve more family members.

The change could be in the family business decision making process itself. This often occurs if the change has a long implementation timeframe. Facilitators such as a change management consultant, business consultant or coach could help.

What is the Family Business Decision Making History?

There are many family business decision making processes. A change in process will most likely change decisions. This means another factor is what has been the history?

Precedence is a very powerful force. There is less thinking, less work when we repeat the past. This is true for decision making. Will that history help or hinder the decisions of today?

What are the Relationships and Personalities?

A third factor is relationships and personalities. These form the internal politics. It is not unusual for family members to have input way beyond their pay grade.

This means that the decision-making process must fit those relationships and personalities. As these change so might the process. That might be all the change that is needed.

Is There Ability to Make Decisions?

The final factor is the ability to make decisions. When people say they want input, it does not mean they want to make or help make the decision.

This means watching how each likes to make – or not make – decisions. Some have the traits to be good decision makers. Some want to act more as advisors.

In the end, the main family business decision making tip is to avoid becoming wedded to any one process. There is no best one for all.

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