Perspectives Vary When Viewing Identical Situations

Some of the subjects I write about in this space are pretty specific to situations that families face when hoping to transition their wealth to the next generation of their family.

Others are much more general in nature, but even with those, I always make at least some attempt to tie them back to my work with such families.

This week’s post will come down somewhere in the middle, I believe, since it feels like it’ll do a bit of both.

The title, “Seeing the Same Thing, Differently” gives me lots of leeway, and I can’t wait to see how it all comes out. Please join me.

Close Colleagues, Years Apart in Age

I began to think about this subject recently as I drove to see a friend and colleague I’ve known for 10 years now.

We became friends instantly, thanks to the similarities in our back stories, which isn’t surprising in and of itself.

However, when you add in the fact that when we met, he was in his early 30’s and I was in my late 40’s, the fact that we’d stay close was less predictable.

Not having seen each other in person in years (thanks, Covid!), I began to reflect on our relationship as I approached his office.

Having lived similar experiences in our business families, and now both working with families professionally, I thought about how we see many things the same way.

But as I think about our age difference, I also realize that our viewpoints are quite different.

Are All FamBiz the Same?

I often say that every family business is different, but in other ways they’re all the same.

Looking back on previous related posts, I rediscovered one I wrote in 2021, All FamBiz Are Different, And All the SAME, that looks at this from another angle as well.

The fact that there are similarities can be an advantage, since professionals who serve these families can benefit from a learning curve.

That can of course also turn into a disadvantage, though, when it’s taken too literally. This still happens way too frequently.

In the end, there are certainly way more differences to consider than similarities.

Multi-Generational Family Situations 

You don’t have to look too far to find different viewpoints on the same thing in any multi-generational family enterprise situation.

By virtue of the simple difference in “age and stage” of life, parents and their offspring with whom they work in the exact same business, will look at almost every aspect of it differently.

And that’s OK too. 

The trick is to notice this, acknowledge it, and incorporate this fact into the discussions that the family has as it plans and makes decisions together.

Interdisciplinary Teams Serving Families

The colleague I mentioned earlier and I both serve families in similar ways, concentrating on what I call the “family circle” first and foremost, which is a big reason we see things in a similar fashion.

But more and more often now, thankfully, we see situations where families are being served by multiple professionals from different fields.

While this is quite beneficial and is the way of the future, it is not without its hiccups.

The accountant, the lawyer, the banker and the family meeting facilitator each look at the family and its needs from a different lens, depending on their profession.  See It’s Friday, I’m Confused.

Again, that’s a good thing.

And also again, the important thing to do is to put this on the table and not pretend that it doesn’t exist.

Open Minded Open Discussions

What these situations all have in common is that they involve people who see things somewhat differently, even when looking at the same thing.

So please don’t pretend that you’re all seeing it the same way, and do leave room to discuss how you each see things from your viewpoint.

Listen to the views of others and look for ways to satisfy the needs of everyone.

There’s never only one answer to any situation, even if it takes a bit of time and effort to arrange the pieces of the puzzle in a way to satisfy everyone, or at the very least, to have all voices heard.

The best solutions are the ones that are co-created by the people who’ll be affected by them.

Please take the time to have that experience together, it will be worth it.