Perspectives from ISB

Family businesses face major challenges in working through ownership and management succession and family business leaders acknowledge the problem. However, few know where and how to develop a governance and succession plan.

Visionaries need not go through the same periods of adversity. To preserve their wealth, they must initiate governance and succession at the onset and not when they are old, sickly and dying. Imagine the benefit, if the company mastered the art and science of governance, people management, leadership development, and succession practices?

Imagine the enormous rewards, if governance is reinforced with a shared vision supported with powerful values that the founder passed on to the next generation. Imagine legacy-building benefits, if the founder put in motion the training of the next generation leaders so they can whole-heartedly embrace the value of fairness and meritocracy and the importance of making decisions based on “what is good for the company”.

The real challenge is to make every family member and future stakeholder understand early on the all-important concept of stewardship rather than ownership. How? By learning from the best in their class: large family-owned businesses and their leaders that have defied the odds, went through rough patches in the second generation, summoned extraordinary strength to set things right, and deftly overcoming the third generation curse. They continue to prosper with some becoming certified century-old organizations.

Governance and succession is non-negotiable. It is your wonderful gift to the next generation.

Source: Soriano, Enrique M., August 21, 2017,