Business and family issues and decisions are intimately connected. Everyone may agree on the costs and benefits of a decision but disagree on what to do because of the sharing of risks and rewards.
Even within the business, the CEO and the successor may disagree because of differences in their life stages. The current CEO may have more equity at risk and be concerned about long-term security.
Try the following exercise to help develop a shared vision for the family farm in transition. If this exercise seems too academic or touchy-feely, keep in mind that leaders of the most successful family businesses have learned from it.
The exercise: Both CEO and successor should independently write out their responses to the following questions, then share and discuss their ideas.
CORE VALUES: What is important to me? What is acceptable? What is not acceptable?
VISION: What does my future for the business look like? What do I want from the business? What do I hope will happen? What am I afraid might happen?
MISSION: What is the purpose of the business? Why am I here?
GOALS: What do I want the business to accomplish? What do I want to achieve personally? What sacrifices am I willing to make in order to make it happen?
OBJECTIVES: How will I measure the performance and progress of myself and of the business?
STRATEGIES: What is my plan or approach for accomplishing the goals I have set out?
TACTICS: How do I propose to implement these strategies?
Danny Klinefelter is a professor and Extension economist for Texas AgriLife Extension Service, The Texas A&M University System, and director of TEPAP (The Executive Program for Agricultural Producers).