Family Governance – for Families in Business

There are a number of different tools available to families in business together for improving communication and decision-making. These include:

  • Family boards - Family boards vary considerably in their nature, and should take into account factors such as the type of business the family operates, the geographic spread of the family members, and the goals of the board. These boards can communicate and update family members about the goals of the firm, its immediate and future business success; it is also an opportunity for family members to communicate their wishes for the firm. 
  • Retreats - A retreat is an effective way to activate a family board. It is also a valuable way to address a difficult issue facing the family and/or firm. This may require outside speakers or experts brought in to explain complex issues. 
  • Regularly scheduled extended-family meetings - Where geography permits, some family firms have routine extended family meetings, varying from monthly to biannually.

Each family is unique and family governance should be tailored to the each particular family's unique needs. There are numerous ways to structure these family governance structures to maximize their effectiveness. However, Robert's Rules of Order tends to be an ineffective and unproductive way to conduct family meetings.