Family Business Mediation Video No 41: The Next Generation. By Jon Kenfield. Solutionist.

Common Causes of Family Business Conflict & What to Do About Them.

Family Business Mediation Video No 41.The Next Generation.

By Jon Kenfield. Solutionist.

• The classic definition of a family business is one that substantially involves at least 2 family members as owners and operators.

• Family businesses tend to take themselves more seriously, the more generations of family they have in their pedigree.

• Almost every family business dates the beginning of recorded history from the commencement of their family business – as if the family didn’t exist before then!

• Most families are, or can easily be, motivated by the idea of their business passing through to future generations – even those as yet unborn, BUT those next generations can cause significant conflicts, both between themselves and current generations, and between members of the same generation.

• The prime cause lies in different personalities, education, and socio-economic upbringing. An Eastern European migrant who came to Australia after WWII with very little and has battled to be successful will have very different attitudes to work, life and community than their comfortable grandchildren, who have always enjoyed the best of everything, with very little effort on their part.

• It’s nobody’s fault, but it can cause major conflict when the next generation doesn’t display the characteristics the older generation demands to see before handing over the keys to the kingdom.

• Similarly, if cousins haven’t learnt to respect and work with each other as they’ve grown up, they may well not be natural allies in the future of the business.


• Engage the next generation as early as possible in the ethos and operations of the family’s business – vacation work etc.

• Build next generation teams – investment, philanthropy and environment groups – and teach them business fundamentals – meetings, research, problem solving, decision making, leadership & teamwork.

• No cloning – the next generation will stand on your shoulders – not in your shoes.

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