Sunday, September 13, 2009

Growing curiosity in the strengths of family business

I was a speaker at the Family Business Conference organised by the Jain International Trade Organisation yesterday in Mumbai. The one-day event was meant to sensitise its members but quite a few non-Jains also attended it. The conference that had all essential aspects for building a sustainable family business had a sell out crowd at the ball room of Hotel Leela. I thought Jains with their values of harmoney, non-violence and sacrifice were naturally inclined to breathe the essence of family business. We need a large number of such initiatives to sensitise business families about the wonderful things a united family business can do. I initiated a new network recently under my Chair at the the ISB (Thomas Schmidheiny Chair of Family Business and Wealth Management) primarily with this objective. This is only a beginning.

I have seen three categories of FB members: one, those not at all aware of the possibilities of having a unified and wealthy family business; two, those aware of the benefits of having good overnance principles etc but do not know how to go about practising them; and three, who do not start doing anything though they are aware of what to do. Hence there is a social need to "sell the concept" of healthy family business.

I asked the audience to start the practice of good governance at home immediately without a lengthy agenda. I suggested that they identify a list of key areas of concern that they are bothered about and start discuing the reasons. This way they will be able to find solutions to major challenges soon. If this exercise is continued on a regular basis for about six motnhs, they would have identified the major building blocks of a constitution. Never start writing a constitution first; what you need is to identify solutions to pressing problems and execute them effectively.