Originally appeared in Harvard Business Review
We have entered a new era that’s presenting unprecedented challenges, as well as significant opportunities, for family enterprises. Some of the traits of successful family businesses — their long-term outlook, strong financial resilience, stakeholder loyalty, and commitment to positive social impact — will aid their success in this new era. However, other traits — such as their insistence on privacy and control, their narrow definition of stewardship, their prioritization of family harmony over family unity, and their slowness in making big changes and reversing course — will need to change.
New mindsets, strategies, and practices will be required for family enterprises to survive and thrive in today’s turbulent era. Owners themselves must lead the charge, from the inside, and insist on new directions and transformative action to ensure success in the years ahead.
In a two-year study released in September 2022, sponsored by Citi Private Bank, Cambridge Family Enterprise Group (CFEG) explored these new requirements for success. Our research included a global survey of owning families, interviews with senior and next generation family members, and extensive secondary research — all guided by CFEG’s 33 years advising, educating, and researching family enterprises worldwide. The resulting white paper shares our learnings and advice for navigating the new era.