Transition Process Empowers


Larry Grypp, President of The Goering Center

It was a rough Presidential campaign, but you could feel the shift within a day or two -- at least among the president and president-elect, if not the electorate.

The time to focus on a peaceful transfer of power had begun. The orderly process was starting.

Not that the process itself lacked drama and discord, but there was a tempering influence that came into play. Mr. Obama and Mr. Trump, in their own fashion, recognized it was time to hew to a process that has distinguished the American election system since the days of George Washington. The leadership mantle was about to pass.

As you read this, no doubt there is still some turmoil, but nothing like the convulsions that can be seen in other countries around the world when one leader takes over from another.

Whatever anxiety comes with a family business moving to the next generation of leadership hardly scales to the enormity of the U.S. Presidency, but if you are in close quarters, it can pose some of the same perils of discord, confusion and uncertainty.

Why is process so important?  And why do family businesses, in particular, sometimes shy away from it?

Process, properly designed and executed, provides stability and continuity. It sets expectations and defines clear measures and milestones. It keeps everyone on the same page, aligned around what needs to be considered and how everyone is accountable to that.

Interestingly, most embrace instilling process and discipline around investment of assets -- in new equipment, facilities, an acquisition, or a new product line. We can’t imagine just throwing money at those situations and hoping for the best. The process tempers impulse and challenges thinking along the way. It ensures a good decision.

The leadership transition process of a family business is as critical. Owners may feel a process interferes with a parental desire for their children but it actually safeguards that relationship. Particularly in a family business where the transfer to the next generation may seem to be a foregone conclusion. It is the process that makes sure that it is a good decision for the business and ultimately for the family’s own legacy and health.