Founder to Family: Sustaining Family Business Success

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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.

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  • Transitional Challenges
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  • Coaching
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  • The MIT Edge
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Founder to Family: Sustaining Family Business Success
Certificate Track: Management and Leadership
Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts
Tuition: $36,000 for a team of four, $7,000 for each additional participant (excluding accommodations)
Program Days (for ACE Credit) 5

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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.

Program Overview

John Davis discusses what you will learn in Founder to Family: Sustaining Family Business Success.

John Davis on the Three Circle Model

The Three Circle Model is 40 years old this year and is still the most relevant and widely used model in family business advising. Listen to episode 43 of The Family Business Podcast (free on itunes) to hear John Davis speak about this model and other issues facing family businesses.