Frequency of Interventions Varies Over Time

The time lapse between a blog idea and my eventually writing about it is usually a matter of weeks, typically somewhere between 2 and 6.

This week, I’m writing about an idea that’s been sitting in my “blog ideas” email folder for almost two years.

It just finally feels like it’s time to share my thoughts on this.

In my work, what I do with the “Smith” family is never a good predictor of what working with the “Jones” family will be like.

Likewise, the circumstances, timing, approach, and cadence of the work with the Brown family will be very different from what occurs with the Johnsons.


Some Patterns Are Common Though

The fact that the families and their situations are never the same doesn’t mean that there aren’t some patterns that develop.

In the same way that I work with very different families, my chiropractor works with all sorts of patients, and no two are the same for her either.

There’s an informative poster on the wall of one of her treatment rooms that does a nice job of explaining three different stages of care that chiropractors generally deliver.

The poster is in French, and I was worried about how I’d translate some of the specifics, but thankfully my friend Mr. Google helped me out and found a site with the same information in English.

Ever since I first had the idea to write about this, I’ve understood that there’s something useful here for those of us who work with families on the challenges of transitioning their business and wealth to the next generation.

How Serious Is It Now? How Often Do I Need to See You?

Over the years that I’ve been seeing Dr. B., the cadence of my visits has varied greatly, depending on what has ailed me.

Initially, it was sciatica, which probably fell under the heading of “Initial Intensive Care”, which is often the first stage and the one that made me make an appointment.

In my work, this might be analogous to some family conflict that has reared its head, and is too hard to ignore anymore.

Families who reach out for an external resource at such times usually need some version of lots of “intensive care”, if only to make them realize that they need to work through the issue, and likely won’t be successful on their own.

The chiro version of this looks at “pain & symptom management”, whereas my equivalent is something along the lines of clarifying interests and trying to find common ground, while providing a safe space and calm presence.

Rehabilitative and Corrective Care

The second stage of chiropractic care is labeled “rehabilitative/corrective care”.

Visits during such treatments are usually spaced out further, but still quite regular. At this point, we’re not going in twice in the same week, but we may have a number of visits, once a week or every two weeks for a certain period of time.

Working with families, this stage is probably the sweet spot, where you start to make progress with a family group.

You’re also possibly not dealing with a real “pain point”, and more likely building in some of the elements of family mission and vision, and laying the groundwork for family governance.

The chiropractic work here looks at “improved function”, which may be something as simple as having better and more productive regular meetings with family members, where the family’s relationship to the business is discussed.

The Holy Grail of Maintenance Mode

I’m happiest when I leave the chiropractor’s office with my next appointment set for a month later.

That means I’ve arrived at the maintenance stage, and I’m usually feeling as good physically as I have in a while.

The chiro world calls this “wellness/elective care”, which is mostly preventative and consists of minor adjustments before little things get worse.

In my work, this can be where a family “graduates” from requiring regular services from me, and an occasional check in is all that’s really required.

The Limits of this Analogy

There is of course no perfect analogy, but I think about this from time to time, especially early on with a new family.

It takes a certain amount of time just to figure out what the family truly needs, because often they don’t have a very good handle on this themselves yet either.

Hopefully I’ll have just the right touch for them.