Family Business Mediation Video No 50. Cuckoo Consultants. By Jon Kenfield. Solutionist.

Family Business Mediation Video No 50. Cuckoo Consultants. By Jon Kenfield. Family Business Mediator. Solutionist.

  • This video is unique amongst the 50 in this series in that it looks to an entirely external conflict generator that can act upon the family – as opposed to the other 49 causes, where the family does its own great job of creating its very own conflict.
  • Cuckoo consultants come into family business environments, usually from a business background, sporting business-based credentials and perspectives. They create confusion and conflict by promoting perfectly appropriate business advice to the wrong people, in the wrong way.
  • They sound sensible, logical and commercial, but their advice is completely unworkable.
  • The problem lies in their ignorance of the unique requirements of family business – much as a cuckoo has no concern for the eggs it turfs out of a host nest to make space for its own egg.
  • Cuckoos can be existing trusted advisers, keen to protect their clients from outside consultants (the flea wishes to own the dog); consultants from HR or “normal” business backgrounds who believe they have the required experience and skills; advisers who don’t know what they don’t know; or ones who just don’t care.


  • Approach all adviser engagements as life or death projects – because they could be, for your family and for your business.
  • Check every proposed adviser’s family business advisory credentials, including training, experience and, most importantly, real testimonials and referees.
  • Don’t rely on accreditation alone. Real knowledge and experience, and demonstrable skills, are far more important.
  • Meet them, ask questions and judge their answers.
  • Importantly, as with all adviser engagements, assess them for the quality of the questions they ask you. Any adviser that proposes or recommends doing anything before they have a reasonable understanding of your needs is a salesperson, first and foremost. In all probability, that’s not the key skill you’re looking for.

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