Founder to Family: Sustaining Family Business Success

Founder to Family: Sustaining Family Business Success

Item No. a056g00000URaaAAAT
Course Dates Format Location Duration Time Commitment Price
Oct 25–29, 2021 In Person Cambridge, Massachusetts 5 days 8 hours/day $36,000


Management and Leadership

Certificate Credits

5.0 EEUs


- Family Enterprise

- Organizations & Leadership

The Founder to Family program helps founders, or first generation families-in-business, build a bridge to the next generation. Founders and their family members learn to position their companies and families for ongoing success amid a fast-changing business landscape and increasing family complexity. Structure the planning of your transition to the second generation—no matter how distant or close that transition may be. Keep your family business on a path that builds upon the founder’s groundwork and grows value for another generation or more. Accelerate crucial conversations among the founder and his/her family members to resolve issues and set plans for sustaining family and business success.

Family-owned companies, on average, outperform non-family companies, and those at the founder stage are the best performing among them. There are many competitive advantages and good qualities of first generation family companies that should be continued. At the same time, most founder-stage family companies unfortunately don’t succeed into the second generation. But a family can beat these odds, regenerate their success over generations, and flourish. Companies and families need to evolve to stay relevant and guard against vulnerabilities that can be crippling.

To propel a successful first generation company into the next generation, founders and their families need to develop and successfully blend the next generation into the governance, ownership, management, wealth-building, succession planning, and other important activities of the family. They must foster talent in the management and ownership groups, build good governance of the company, owners and family, and grow assets for future activities.

This 5-day program helps your family learn how to revitalize your success in business and how to integrate the second generation into the plan. It explores the critical elements of managing and owning a high-performance family business, and preparing for the family’s first generational transition—no matter how distant that transition may be. Daily classes with experts explore the complexities of family businesses and the disruptive forces acting on businesses today; family ownership and how to structure and pass it effectively; how to keep the family united and contributing to its enterprise; and how the founder and next generation can partner effectively. Classes stimulate new thinking and promote engaging discussions about the issues family companies at the founder stage face. In addition, every day each family has a private discussion led by an experienced coach to address the topics on their particular agenda which help a family become clear about its goals, capabilities, challenges, and options. By the end of the program each family leaves with an action plan that they can implement going forward.

Successful founder-stage businesses are enviable powerhouses in many ways—innovation, growth, and returns on assets to name a few. Much of the company’s success—at least for a while—is due to the strengths of the founder and the organization of the company around him or her. But overreliance on the founder makes growing beyond the founder and transitioning the company to the next generation of the family very challenging. Extending success beyond the founder stage typically requires:

  • Building upon the special insights and capabilities of the founder while flexing the company into new products, services, technologies and markets as required.
  • Developing an organization and board that utilize strong talent, usually requiring more distributed authority.
  • Bringing qualified family members of the next generation into the company or onto the board of the company, developing loyal and supportive owners, and building unity and high standards in the next generation.
  • Addressing sibling relationship issues, or other family relationship challenges, that paralyze decision-making or threaten family unity.
  • Fairly compensating and rewarding family and non-family contributors to business success.
  • Encouraging a timely taking charge of responsibilities by the next generation and the transfer of responsibilities by the founder so the company and family maintain strong momentum.
  • Partnering between generations in a mutually advantageous manner.

Added to these traditional requirements are factors that now dramatically affect the success of first-to-second generation transitions: new and often disruptive forces acting on industries and businesses; new generational attitudes about careers and lifestyles; advancements in human longevity; new sources of investment capital; and more plentiful buyers for a family’s successful business. These present both challenges and opportunities for future family and business success.

Much needs to eventually change in generational transitions: the leadership team in the company and how decisions are made, the governance system, eventually the ownership group of the business, even family relationships tend to change some as the next generation assumes responsibilities and authority. Understandably, with roles and relationships shifting, these first-to-second generation transitions are often complicated and emotionally sensitive experiences.
Needless to say, to beat the odds against survival and continued success requires a disciplined game plan.

Founder to Family: Sustaining Family Business Success provides a supportive and empowering educational and family workshop experience to address the most important interests and issues that families have at the founder stage. Critical topics covered in the program include:

  • Deciding the mission and values of the family’s activities that the family wants to perpetuate
  • Planning for the growth, evolution, and diversification of the business and the family’s other assets
  • Building management talent and management and governance systems to professionalize (increase the capabilities, methods and standards of) the business and family office
  • Choosing the right ownership model and building a united and capable ownership group
  • Developing a reinvestment and dividend approach that meets company and owner goals
  • Developing a united next generation team
  • Preparing the next generation to capably assume key roles in and out of the business
  • Preparing for an effective generational transition—no matter how distant that transition may be—respecting the interests of both generations and the family company.

The Founder to Family program is led by MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer John Davis, a pioneer in the family enterprise field and a globally recognized authority on family enterprise, family wealth, and the family office. Davis joined MIT Sloan after leading the family enterprise area at Harvard Business School for more than 20 years. He is an award-winning teacher and researcher and is the creator of some of the field’s most impactful conceptual frameworks. Davis is also Chairman of Cambridge Family Enterprise Group, a global advisory and research organization.

The Founder to Family program also provides daily expert coaching of private family discussions that culminate in an action plan for a family’s important next steps. In these facilitated sessions you will be guided in how to:

  • Focus on the big objectives facing the family and family business and work for collective interests
  • Address natural family tensions, such as competition and different interests, to build a strong family and second-generation team that works well together
  • Structure and manage important family conversations that address important topics in a respectful and sympathetic manner.

The combined experience of faculty and participants produces deep understandings and profound transformations for participating families. Your family will have conversations you need to have and will leave the program feeling closer and more aligned about your future as a result.

Through interactive lecture-discussions, case discussions, group exercises, exchanges across families, and private coaching discussions within families, you and your family will grow in understanding and capability, including how to:

  • Plan for the evolution and diversification of the business and the family’s wealth
  • Build management talent and governance systems and professionalize the business
  • Choose an ownership model and dividend policy
  • Develop a unified next generation team
  • Prepare the next generation to competently assume their roles
  • Decide when to make the transition
  • Define a meaningful role for the Founder going forward with clear responsibilities

This program will also help you understand:

  • How family companies succeed in a disruptive environment
  • Trends affecting many aspects of family enterprise
  • How to keep the family on the path of long-term success, strategically growing assets, maintaining family unity, and building family talent to achieve the family’s compelling mission
  • How to articulate your family’s mission and core values—including your social impact mission—and how to strengthen a growing family’s commitment to success
  • How to develop a smart strategy for aligning your family and ownership group, including deciding the family’s role in the company and the broader family enterprise
  • How both generations view next generation talent development
  • Strategies for making decisions on portfolio of investments in and out of your family company and family office
  • How to decide among an array of ownership and capital options for your family company and other investments
  • How to govern the family, the ownership group, the family company, and other organizations in the family enterprise
  • How other first generation companies around the world manage these issues and their first-to-second generation transitions

The Founder to Family program is designed for family teams of four or more individuals in the first and second generations—including founders of established enterprises, their spouse/partner, and members of the next generation. The team may also include non-family members such as non-family executives and independent board members who play/will play a significant role in the company.

If you are the founder of your business, you may be unsure whether to sell or pass your company to the next generation. Or, you may already know that you want to involve the next generation, but need help planning for succession and beyond. The faculty of this program will help you and your family navigate critical issues, engage in meaningful and necessary conversations as a family, and plan for the longevity of your family’s enterprise activities.

If you want to discuss the right composition for your family team, we are ready to help.

Course Dates Format Location Duration Time Commitment Price
Oct 25–29, 2021 In Person Cambridge, Massachusetts 5 days 8 hours/day $36,000


Management and Leadership

Certificate Credits

5.0 EEUs


- Family Enterprise

- Organizations & Leadership

Enroll Now!


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