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What do family business leaders need to learn?

Ivan Lansberg and Devin DeCiantis discuss education in the context of continuity

Education provides the foundational and developmental frameworks upon which families can build their knowledge base, drawing on a common language and set of behaviors that cultivate a greater understanding of family enterprise systems and greater appreciation for the complexity of the continuity challenge.

The activities that contribute to a family’s multigenerational success like aligning around a shared vision for the future, ensuring effective governance, and strategic succession planning don’t come with a user’s manual. Education offers families a proven way to gain a greater understanding of these complex challenges and increase the chances of enterprise continuity.

It provides family business leaders with an opportunity to learn about the structures, processes and policies that will support their enterprises across generations. It can also expose them to a community of peers who are wrestling with similar issues or who have resolved similar dilemmas and have practical insights to share. In fact, in a formal learning environment, family business students often learn as much from each other as they do from their professors.

In our experience, even the most sophisticated families don’t know what they don’t know when it comes to ensuring their entrepreneurial legacy. Education provides the foundational and developmental frameworks upon which families can build their knowledge base, drawing on a common language and set of behaviors that cultivate greater understanding of family enterprise systems and greater appreciation for the complexity of the continuity challenge. For family business leaders, an investment in education is a necessary pre-condition for long-term success.

In this episode of LGA Lighthouse, Jennifer Pendergast, the Executive Director of the John L. Ward Center for Family Enterprises at the Kellogg School of Management, and Ivan Lansberg and Devin DeCiantis, both Managing Partners at LGA, discuss why education is the cornerstone of continuity. The conversation explores:

  • How families can leverage various sources of learning to support their current and future ambitions from insights gained in-class through other enterprising families, to custom “Academies” for family members, to documenting and sharing stories from their family’s entrepreneurial journey.
  • How a structural commitment to education can help inform an enterprise’s evolution, providing a mechanism to track the ever-changing external context and inform how family business leaders respond.
  • How to use education as a tool to help families create a common language, awareness, and appreciation for the building blocks that support continuity.
  • How to prepare the next generation to enter the business
  • How to deploy resources effectively in service of educating owners, including location, time, energy, and expense all factors that families must address when committing to educational programming
  • How consultants can support the education and development of all family members regardless of their role within the enterprise
  • What the future might have in store for family business education – including exciting new models of interactive and experiential learning

Whether it takes place in the classroom, the boardroom, or the dining room, lifelong learning and the passing on of accumulated knowledge are critical for family enterprise continuity. Designing an educational program that will support your family for generations to come is easier than you think.

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