How Do We Prepare Our Next Generation….of Owners…..?

December 20, 2017

By Sid Chadwick

In order to achieve anything, you must be brave enough to fail.”…….Kirk Douglas


How does one insure the professional development in our next generation owners --- with “the right stuff” --- like the previous generation developed (…….and has)…..?

In too many organizations, owners who started their companies, and who developed a strong organization (and reputation) over one or two (or more) decades --- appear fearful to ---- “let the next generation --- publicly fail”.

That observation…or opinion…..tends to not be missed --- by participants.

That sense of fear --- to let go --- to let a blood relative (a son or daughter, no less)  ---make a meaningful, public mistake --- can be a tough --- very tough --- step….for everyone involved

Yet, I ask, “How is that next generation ownership ever to develop their judgment --- their instincts --- for working effectively with their personnel --- their suppliers --- and their customers…..?”

On the other hand, I’ve observed --- a few owners who (---especially one who had just received a bad medical diagnosis) --- with courage --- hand the keys to the company --- over to a son, and say, in effect, “Here you go….see what you can do with this…..I’m getting too old for this sort of  thing…….!

And then, in effect….walk away….

Pruning tree I’ve always loved growing and developing plants --- that would give back to me….. year-after year.  If I wanted to develop strong fruit bushes (e.g., blue berries, or fig bushes ---or grape vines --- such as local Scuppernongs) --- I don’t keep them in a “hot house” environment.

They need to be out in the weather, properly nurtured --- where they can toughen-up. (And --- they need at least….40+ nights of freezing temperatures --- to produce properly….!)

A long-term client not all that long ago said that he felt like a failure --- because he had to sell his company….at the depths of the Great Recession. 

I noted that the IRS wrote him a personal letter --- acknowledging his exemplary steps in disposing of all his debts --- including to them…..and then I made my point:

“You are worth far more to those you serve, today, than you would be  --- had you not experienced that failure…..Because of that failure, you required yourself over the last couple of years --- to reexamine --- deeply --- everything you did --- prior to dissolving your organization……And everyone you now serve --- experiences the benefits of that traumatic experience…….You are priceless, today --- in your service to others….in my opinion --- and they can sense that value, though it is not necessary that they know the multiple source of your prophetic wisdom.”


What is your next generation ownership --- having the opportunities to learn…..?

Don't most of us acknowledge that the greatest lessons we learned --- were when we made a mistake --- of some significance......?"

“Spoon feeding in the long run teaches us nothing….. but the shape of the spoon.”……E.M. Forster

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