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Tell Your Story: Family Business Legacy in Times of Change

Did you know that less than 1/3 of global family firms outlive the founder, and only 12% make it to the third generation?

There are a lot of factors that predict whether family businesses will endure, but one of the most important is intangible. A global study found that 32% of the difference between firms led by the second generation and firms led by the third and beyond is due to the family’s unique heritage, values, and stakeholder networks. 

Presumably many family businesses have legacies and values that carry on through their work, so why do some last and some fade? The truth this, family firms are under the same pressures to compete as all businesses but feel uniquely strained in trying to preserve a larger purpose in the face of change. There is simply a lot more tied up in the idea of “what we do” as a company. Those business that successfully transition to third generation ownership and beyond must find a way to integrate their longstanding values with necessary business transformations. 

We work with all kinds of organizations on crafting their message, especially while they are undergoing transformation. The message square has been particularly effective for family enterprise clients. The goal is to align the leadership team around a concise statement of values. This clears the path to delegated decision making, empowering leaders throughout the organization to help the business grow within a clear framework. It can also help distinguish positive, necessary change to what the business does from anything that would disrupt the core values.

If you're interested in trying out the message square for yourself, read through the example below. Want to dive deeper? Get in touch, we'd love to talk about facilitating change within your organization. 

Tips: The central message encapsulates why your company exists. The supporting messages describe the value proposition of the business as it continues to grow into the future. You can have as few as two supporting messages but no more than four! The idea is to simplify and clarify your purpose so that all leaders are able to hold it in mind as they make critical decisions.