“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Albert Einstein
Who we are
We are Solutionists and Family Business Advisers – independent problem solvers, strategic advisers and dispute resolvers to family businesses, professional practices and other organisations.
We’re based in Melbourne, Australia and happy to work wherever we’re needed – both across Australia and internationally.
What we do
We solve human and commercial problems and challenges by bringing clarity, alignment, solutions and commitments to individuals, families, professional practices, businesses and organisations.
We specialise in resolving the unique issues, challenges and conflicts (human and commercial) found in family businesses – including those that don’t fit easily into standard pigeon holes – particularly succession planning.
Our Solutionist processes are fundamentally facilitative and non-destructive. They enable us to solve most problems through analysis, advice, lateral thinking, option generation, negotiation and consensus building.
We prevent and defuse conflict and generate solutions where everyone understands what they need to do; why they need to do it; how they’re going to get the job done; when it’s going to happen; who’s responsible, and how they’ll be held accountable.
We don’t provide traditional professional services (eg: legal or accounting), although we come from those worlds and understand them well. We collaborate with trusted advisers we choose for specific tasks, individual clients and actual circumstances.
Why we do it
Simple! We enjoy helping individuals, families and businesses to solve their problems – and we’re very good at it. We also like being paid to sort out other people’s affairs!
Conventional professional advisers (and their insurers), prefer doing conventional technical work, where their clients’ needs mesh happily with their chosen systems of work. This produces maximum efficiency, security and profit – for the adviser.
With more complexity, especially when significant human issues are involved, conventional approaches are invariably too insensitive, slow, inflexible, rational and adversarial to stand much chance of producing appropriate results. Advisers who stay within this service paradigm simply can’t deliver everything their clients need and deserve.
That’s why we use conventional professional knowledge to underpin, rather than constrain, the broader suite of processes and skills required to address the human AND commercial issues present in most situations.
There’s little else we’d rather do (except, perhaps, a little more underwater photography!).
How we work
Our approach is values-based and our work is solution-oriented. We’re highly skilled, independent, and strongly focused on human and organisational drivers and needs.
Once we understand your needs we usually offer a fixed price quote for each stage of our work, including incidental costs, rather than charging for time spent on the job. That way we don’t reward ourselves for being inefficient, and you don’t get any nasty surprises.
Working with Business Families: We ensure we understand you and your family’s specific (human) needs before we do anything; then we design a process to address those needs; then we guide you through the process to excellent outcomes.
We collaborate with other trusted advisers to ensure that every family receives relevant, capable and cost-effective expertise and service.
Our Family Business Best Practice Model is based on extensive research and experience. We use it to design and deliver practical plans for long-term peace and prosperity.
We resolve family conflicts, tensions and differences, usually through facilitative, non-destructive processes. We often find deep-seated causes that date back many decades. We address these as firmly and positively as possible, trying to avoid breaking anything, or anyone, in the process. We’ll use whatever it takes to get desired results, which could mean anything – from assisted conversations to psychotherapists.
There’s recently been a huge increase in demand for help with succession planning processes, especially in situations where older parents have let things go for a few more years than everyone else might have wished. These assignments challenge us to use all of our skills and experience, and to collaborate with other advisers on a range of technical, and even psychological issues.
We also help families to build their own 7 Pillars of Family Business Success on their journey towards Family Business Best Practice.
Working with Partnerships, Professional Practices and Other Organisations: We ensure we understand you and your specific (human) needs before we do anything; then we design a process to address those needs; then we guide you through the process to excellent outcomes.
Our approach is collaborative, creative and participatory – you’re engaged and learning, from start to finish. By the end you’ll have acquired plans, knowledge and skills to help you avoid, or manage your way through, many types of challenging situation in the future.
Problem Solving: For a detailed explanation of our problem solving process, please see CONSEPS™. In summary, the 4 stages go like this:
- Work out what’s going on; who’s involved, and what makes them tick. We need to understand the context before jumping to solutions.
- Analyse all available information: factual, perceptual, technical and human, before jumping to solutions.
- Create, examine and evaluate options, before jumping to solutions.
- Craft the best option(s) into a realistic and workable (optimal) solution. Include a practical Action Plan, to ensure that what’s been agreed gets done, and stays done. Capture everything that’s been agreed in writing and have it signed and witnessed.
We’re happy to work with your own professional advisers, or to recommend others we know we can trust. We generally prefer to bring them in after we’ve helped you decide what you want to achieve, as this increases efficiency and focus, reduces costs, and often prevents the tail from wagging the dog.
Experience and Skills
Solutionists are passionate and effective problem solvers. We combine conventional financial, commercial, legal, accounting, business planning and management consulting competencies with innovative problem solving, lateral thinking, negotiation, facilitation, mediation and dispute resolution skills. Underpinning it all is an enormous breadth of experience drawn from working with real families, and real businesses, over many years.
We have learnt a lot from the many hundreds of assignments we’ve completed over more then 20 years. We don’t shy away from professional challenges, learning new skills, or exploring new ways of doing things. As a result, we’ve acquired a broad base of knowledge, experience and skills that enable us to provide:
- Practical commercial, structural and organisational advice to families, and businesses, of all shapes and sizes.
- Cost-effective conflict management and dispute resolution services to individuals, couples, workplaces, professional practices, businesses (including family businesses), trade associations and government organisations.
- Proactive facilitation, negotiation and problem solving support.
- Family business best practice advice and associated implementation services.
- Business strategy, continuity and succession planning support, especially for professional practices and family businesses.
- Personal and professional skills development through training programs, coaching and mentoring.
Why use us?
You’ll find our practical, pragmatic, problem solving approach refreshingly understandable, efficient, constructive and cost-effective. The knowledge and skills we’ve developed through years of professional facilitation, mediation, consulting and family business advisory practice mean there are very few situations and challenges we haven’t seen and dealt with before.
We’re proud of our track record, and will happily put you in touch with past and present clients, on request. You can also check out our Resources to find some of our publications and presentations.
We believe that in most situations we can deliver better results, more quickly and less expensively, than almost anyone else.