by John L. Ward
Family organizations, such as family offices, face many paradoxical contradictions. Several follow; then a fundamental paradox will be examined.
- Centralized leadership or direct democracy
– Who makes decisions?
– How is leadership selected?
- Individual freedom or collective responsibility
– Is privacy protected or are there no restrictions on social media use?
– Is each mindful of the physical security of all?
- Engagement or emotional space
– What expectations are put on people for participation?
– How draining are family meetings?
- Voluntary involvement or remunerated roles
– How broad is participation?
– How appreciated are “doers” feeling?
- Direct costs or shared costs[*]
– Who pays for what?
– How much effort determines real costs?
Perhaps the most fundamental family organization paradox is Familial or ProfessionalWhen family members participate in family meetings or activities or governance they expect BOTH: informal, family-like feelings AND productive, effective progress.
One approach to paradoxes is to seek balance – when there are increasing efforts to professionalize put more attention on how to also emphasize more familiarity. Another approach to paradoxes is to seek a synthesis – “win win.” Perhaps a family will find that the more professional its meetings, the more time there is for just plain, casual fun?
[*] Sometimes the long-term view dissolves paradoxical contradictions. Perhaps in the long-term all costs are shared?