Building on its 30 Year History, Goering Center Embraces an Innovative Future

Carol Butler, President, Goering Center

There is something about “30 years” that gives us pause. Maybe because it marks entry into that “30-somethings” phase where the direction of our lives starts to sharpen or bear down. Maybe it’s generational, often defined by a transition from child to parent or―in the case of family or private business―from one generation to the next.

However, right now “30” is taking on some enormous dimensions for reasons that might sneak up on all of us―a shift that we cannot afford to miss.

If you ask a business that has been involved with the Goering Center for several years what our focus has been, they would likely cite our work in transition planning, leadership development, culture and structuring outside advisors. There is little doubt that our work in this area―already recognized as among the best in the nation―has offered our members a strong foundation for their future.

When we continually do research on the reasons for failure in business, family or private, the results are familiar: lack of planning, ineffective communication, absence of outside advice, and more. Addressing those issues honestly and intentionally has been the hallmark of so many of our members who have flourished through two generations or more.

But there’s something about turning 30.

The Goering Center turns 30 this year. As such, we are experiencing some of the same transitions, shifts and reflections that we urge our members to go through. A strategy re-set, bringing in new talent on staff,  assessing the value of our various programs, making sure we continue to refresh our bench of outside advisors. All the things we say should matter to our members need to matter to us, and do.

But is all that enough―for us, and for our members?

I am increasingly convinced it is not and the reasons have nothing to do with any shortcoming in the past. Rather it has everything to do with a profound shift in the nature of business.

You need not cast a wide glance to see evidence of how business is being transformed through technology and innovation. Traditionally, innovation―whether it be product or process―has been seen as an extension of the business, a way to improve it, refresh it.

That’s no longer the case.

Consider just two or three years ago. Same day delivery? Entire transactions―including payment―through third parties? App-based ordering and fulfillment?  Breakthrough products fully launched through crowdfunding and marketed through social media? 3D printing transforming not just product design but fabricating products in house rather than ship finished?  It doesn’t matter what kind of business you have―manufacturing, retail, financial services, food services―it is facing a new era of disruption, even upheaval because of technology, new market dynamics, transportation and communications.

We’ve had the Industrial Revolution, then the Technology Revolution, and we are clearly in a new era now where just about everything is in play.

Innovation is not just something new we do, but at the heart of everything we do.

In closely held businesses, things like succession planning and family/owner councils and leadership development matter a great deal, and many of those activities are uniquely suited to the dynamics of a family and private business. We intend to always be the trusted resource for those unique needs. However, business is still business, and making it to the next generation, even the next decade, increasingly is dependent as much on innovation and transformation as business and family continuity.

Our mission at Goering Center is to make family and private businesses sustainable for the long term. That means a focus on innovation.

The Goering Center is embracing this trend. Our intent is to look at our “products,” the programs and content we offer, as well as our process, how we deliver that value in new ways. It is not a new mission, but it is a determination to explore ways to transform ourselves for the future.

Our 10 year vision is that Greater Cincinnati is an economic benchmark region and the Goering Center community is recognized as a contributing factor. It is exciting to think about the innovation that will emerge and be embraced as we step into this journey.