From Societal Transformations to Intergenerational Transitions
Thanks to the pandemic, there’s no denying that the whole world looks very different today than it did just a few weeks ago.
Few could have predicted how quickly and profoundly things could change, and so far, most of what we’ve seen has been for the worse.
But while most of us haven’t figured out what it’ll all mean in the long run, some families have already started making some big moves to try to get out in front of the tectonic shifts that are happening.
From societal changes that are happening in plain view of everyone, right down to key transitions within families, it seems like everything is in motion right now.
As a family enterprise advisor who lives and breathes the world of business families and their family offices, I want to share some of what I’ve already been noticing.
Broad Societal and Industry Moves
Let’s start with the things that we’ve all been seeing on the news.
With shortages of necessities like personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical personnel, hand sanitizer and ventilators, many companies, including plenty of family businesses, have begun to shift their production from their usual products, to helping fill the sudden demand for what frontline responders need right now.
There are examples, big and small, from all over the world, because every country is being affected by the current pandemic.
On a more local scale, many family-owned restaurants and grocery stores are moving to deliveries to deal with the new reality of the “lockdowns”, as well as getting food to overworked medical personnel and to food banks having trouble keeping up with local needs.
Family Offices and Impact Investing
At another level, looking at things with a longer lens, family offices are already lining up future investments in industries poised to be part of the long term solution and new realities that the world is suddenly facing.
This crisis is presenting all sorts of opportunities, not only from an investment perspective, but also for the betterment of society.
The field of impact investing, often a favorite of the younger generation of successful intergenerational enterprising families, is also rightfully excited by the chance to get involved on the ground floor of some of these widespread changes.
This ties in nicely with a piece I wrote last year on the natural fit between family offices and impact investing. See Family Offices and Impact Investing: A Great Fit
From Macro to Micro
Within any given family, as much as the societal and industry shake-ups affect their businesses and the assets they own, there’s typically an upcoming generational transition that’s never more than a decade or so away.
Enterprising legacy families always need to look at the long term trends in the world at large, while making sure to never lose sight of the life cycle realities in their families.
They need to look at the macro world and its opportunities with one eye, without forgetting about the micro reality and potential threats that might present themselves if they don’t sufficiently prepare the members of their own family to be ready to take the reins one day.
As the world faces major shifts, it becomes more important than ever for families to seize these opportunities while proactively involving the younger, rising generations of their family.
The Strengths of Each Generation
While the senior generation has the experience, wisdom, and patience to run the operations, the next generation of the family will normally be much more tech savvy, have more energy, and be well connected to peers all over the world.
Yes, the generations have different strengths, but in many ways, they have even more things in common. See: Is There a Generation Gap in Business?
While the MIT-Sloan article above isn’t aimed at #FamBiz in particular, the similarities between members of various generations are even greater when we consider members of the same family.
There are so many opportunities to mentor and “reverse mentor” each other in such families.
Opportunities Abound – Will Your Family Capitalize?
This pandemic will create some enormous opportunities for those families that are poised to capitalize on them.
Families in business together can move into action more quickly than most corporate entities, because they’re more flexible, they aren’t focused on the next quarter’s results, and they understand the values that have made them successful over generations.
These crazy times are turbulent for everyone, and smart family enterprises are already beginning to capitalize on them.