All collaborative behavior must stand on a foundation of shared objectives. Family companies are no exception. The continuity of these enterprises rests on the extent to which the owners’ personal, familial and economic aspirations are in alignment.
At LGA we refer to this as a ”Shared Dream.” It is a vision for the family enterprise that adds meaning and vitality to the lives of the owners and broadly defines the purpose, direction and culture of the enterprise. The “Shared Dream” provides the answer to the most fundamental question all business families must address: “Why should we stay together as a family and as owners of this enterprise?”
This is not a theoretical exercise — it is a most pragmatic assessment. Governance continuity is hard work. Our experience suggests that only when the owners’ aspirations are well understood, articulated, embraced, and shared can they meet the demands of governance. That is why during the diagnostic phase of our work (the Continuity Audit), we augment our analysis of current operations by systematically gathering information about what owners want for themselves, their family and their business in the future.
Our “Dream Alignment” process includes educating owners about possibilities, structured bench-marking with families who have chosen different continuity models, followed by individual interviews and group discussions that give each stakeholder a chance to answer fundamental questions:
- Why am I involved?
- What do I expect to receive?
- What am I willing and able to contribute?
After brainstorming possibilities, the final step in Dream Alignment is to put aspirations together with reality. A “Shared Dream” must also be viable in the world, anchored on a realistic goals and an assessment of the resources available to achieve them including, the leadership and organizational capabilities needed for effective implementation.
Therefore, the outcome of the Dream Alignment process is a collective vision for the family enterprise that integrates the voices, values and priorities and goals of the owners, and that can serve as a foundation on which to build an architecture for governance and a strategy for the family enterprise.