Last week we looked at some definitions surrounding transitions, and this week we move into the recognition stage.  Next week we will wrap up the topic with a look at propositions surrounding transitions.

We all remember watching cartoons where the Coyote chased the Roadrunner all over the place and ended up in very precarious situations.  Sometimes he would accidentally end up going over a cliff, but he would remain suspended in mid air for quite some time before ultimately falling to his demise.

The turning point, of course, was that he looked down. Once he recognized that he was no longer on solid ground, gravity took over and he would begin hurtling towards the ground.

Now we all know that animated cartoons can make anything seem to happen regardless of how possible it is in real life. But the point that I want to make is that recognition is an important step in just about any transition.

Let’s go back to last week’s blog, where we looked at how the different people involved in a transition each have their own perspective.  Each of their recognitions of the transition is different, and may have come from an event, a decision, or a realization.

So not everyone recognizes transitions at the same time or in the same way. But it is only AFTER everyone recognizes the transition can it be properly understood in a way that everyone is on the same page.

In the same way as a doctor cannot begin to cure what ails you before she knows what illness you are suffering from, it is very difficult to move through a transition in the most productive and useful way before you recognize the transition.

And since business family transitions almost always affect several people, it is important for each of them to recognize the transition as well. Given their differing perspectives, it becomes key to get everyone to a more-or-less “common recognition” of where things stand.

I began with an unstated assumption that the goal is for the transition to proceed as smoothly as possible. In the interest of seeing that goal through, communication with all parties that are key to achieving a smooth transition is paramount.

Some leadership is required in order to get most families through major transitions. Sometimes the leadership all comes from those who are part of the family. Other times, non-family members of the business can be major players. Sometimes a facilitator can be quite useful.

Last week’s examples of the sale of a business, the passing of a founder and the appointment of a successor, all have several things in common. In my view, the most important is that they all affect several parties, and the cooperation and understanding of most or all of those parties is crucial to ensuring a smooth and successful transition.

Last week’s definitions help set us up for the recognition stage, but this week was more about making sure that everyone involved gets to a shared recognition of the transition. So now that everyone involved is “on the same page”, we can move into the proposition stage, which we will look at next week.

Steve Legler “gets” business families.
He understands the issues that families face, as well as how each family member sees things from their own viewpoint.
He specializes in helping business families navigate the difficult areas where the family and the business overlap, by listening to each person’s concerns and ideas.  He then helps the family work together to bridge gaps by building common goals, based on their shared values and vision.
His background in family business, his experience running his own family office, along with his education and training in coaching, facilitation, and mediation, make him uniquely suited to the role of advising business families and families of wealth.
He is the author of Shift your Family Business (2014), he received his MBA from the Richard  Ivey School of Business (UWO, 1991), is a CFA Charterholder (CFA Institute, 2002), a Family Enterprise Advisor (IFEA 2014), and has received the ACFBA and CFWA accreditations (Family Firm Institute 2014-2015).
He prides himself on his ability to help families create the harmony they need to support the legacy they want. To learn how, start by signing up for his monthly newsletter and weekly blogs here.