We’ve devoted the week to spring cleaning. For many people, the process of spring cleaning is not much fun, but they do enjoy the outcome – a more organized, clean and clutter free environment. Family businesses aren’t the best at fresh starts, and indeed getting rid of history, legacy and culture can take away what can be one of a family business’ greatest strengths. However, we all know of elements in our family businesses that we would be better off leaving behind, inter-personal animosity from prior generations, outmoded business practices, or unhealthy family dynamics. Families have a difficult time letting these things go, because they represent an important part of the family history or perhaps the family isn’t even aware of the pattern they are perpetuating. Whether these unproductive elements of the family are acknowledged or not, they would benefit from spring cleaning. Consider one of two exercises for your next family gathering –
- Ask each family member to write down one thing about the way the family works that they would like to keep and one thing they would like to let go. (Note that saying “let go” rather than “get rid of” takes the sting out of the process).
- Ask the family to think about starting with a clean slate. If you didn’t have your traditions, history, legacy, what is one thing each person would do differently than what you do today?
Either of these exercises will lead you to a productive discussion of what things your family might want to leave behind so that it can operate in a more organized, clean and clutter free environment.