Irrational Fear Gets in the Way of Progress

More often than not, families try to avoid conflict at all cost. For reasons that most of us can easily relate to, it makes sense to try to keep the peace with our relatives.

Unfortunately, especially in cases where we either work with family members or own things together, the fear of any conflict actually ends up making things worse instead of better.

I’m not advocating that you look for trouble and find things to fight about, far from it. 

But, in many families, finding ways to get the positives out of differing viewpoints and priorities would do them a world of good and make things better for everyone.


It Won’t Realistically End

The genesis of this post is an article from Time Magazine that I recently stumbled upon, written by William Ury from the Harvard Negotiation Project.

The Time article is entitled 3 Ways to Make Conflict Less Destructive, and I want to share the parts I liked about it as it regards families.

Ury was the younger partner of Roger Fisher when they wrote Getting to Yes in 1981, and has gone on to become a global conflict guru of sorts.

His Time article came out as his latest book, Possible, is being published, and I recently saw a picture of the current US President holding a copy of the book.

The essay in Time starts off with Ury stating the obvious, “…we need to be realistic: we can’t end conflict.”


We Need More Conflict, Not Less!

Ury actually thinks we need more conflict, not less. Since we can’t eliminate it, we need to find ways to transform it instead.

My take on this is that when I see conflict I focus on the energy that it provides, as opposed to the inertia that comes from people internalizing their differences.

When families are afraid to raise and air their differences, small problems grow into bigger ones that end up being even harder to resolve.

So let’s get to Ury’s 3 ways to make conflict less destructive: a clear perspective, a way out, and help from others.


Getting a Clear Perspective

It’s easy to get so into the emotions that you begin to lose sight of the bigger picture.

It’s important to do two things when this occurs: slow down, and step back.

Stop the argument or the fight and breathe, and slow things down. This helps you think more clearly, using the correct part of your brain.

Then step back and look at the issues from up above, from the balcony, so to speak. See Getting Vertical – From the Iceberg to the Balcony.

When you slow down and step back, you’ll be able to see things more clearly and be able to think of ways to resolve the issue.


Finding a Way Out for Everyone

Ury’s second suggestion is one that I think applies particularly to families, because the ongoing relationships of the people are typically pretty important to keep in mind.

In fact, he writes “find a way out”, and the “for everyone” in the subhead above is my own addition.

As you have paused and stepped back to think things through, you really need to look at the bigger picture, which necessarily includes considering what the other side is saying and pushing for.

You need to find some way for each of the parties to get something out of the confrontation.

See Kissing your Sister: Playing for a Tie in FamBiz

If you expect to get 100% of what you want, and the other person 0%, the likelihood of them agreeing is also about 0%.


Help from Others (External Neutrality)

The third suggestion is one I absolutely agree with, and nobody should be surprised by this.

As someone who works with families, being that non-family person is a role I am very familiar and comfortable with.

Seeking help from others makes so much sense, especially in the context of the first two ideas.

An external person, who has no stake in the outcome, can help force you to slow down and step back, and help you find a way out for each of the parties, all while remaining neutral.


Better than Fake Harmony

Finding ways to work on the conflict together is so much more effective than continuing to pretend that it doesn’t exist.

Such fake harmony can be insidious, and only allows problems to fester.

It isn’t always easy to get started, and perhaps the three suggestions need to be reordered, so you actually begin with finding someone to help you out.

Letting Go Suddenly Can Be Difficult

As I was preparing for an upcoming meeting with a couple who have long been leading their family business, I imagined what subjects might arise during our time together.

At the very top of my list, based on some previous discussions I’d had with a some of their offspring a couple of years back, was the idea that at least one of them seemed very resistant to the prospect of “letting go” of their responsibilities in the company.

So I added the idea of switching one’s mindset from letting go to instead think about loosening one’s grip to my blog ideas folder.

Alas, as it turned out during our meeting, this challenge is far from the biggest priority for that family right now, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less blogworthy!


An Event Versus a Process

One of the mantras I always go back to when working with families is to stop thinking in terms of events that you need to tick off a to-do list, and instead consider the whole process of getting something important done.

Almost every one of my colleagues have said at some point “succession is not an event, it’s a process”.

I personally don’t like to use the word “succession”, and I began phasing it out of my vocabulary even before I became a fan of the TV series.

See Efficient Vs. Effective Continuity Planning, for example

Focusing on continuity, or what you want to remain the same, lends itself almost automatically to thinking more about process than any particular event.


A Transfer Versus a Transition

Staying with the importance of word choice, regular readers will note my preference for talking about the transition of wealth from one generation to the next, as opposed to its transfer.

Watch: Wealth Transfer Vs. Wealth Transition

Once again, though, the idea is the same.

I almost always prefer things to go slowly but surely, as opposed to rushing through something just to get it over with.

So the idea of learning to loosen your grip rather than fighting the push to “just let go” feels like it fits the pattern.


One Small Step at a Time

Part of the problem that some people have with learning to move forward with any change is simply stubbornness.

When faced with someone like that in your family it can be tough to get any movement, especially when you approach them in an “all-or-nothing” way.

If someone is reluctant to allow you to make a bigger place for yourself in the business, I suggest that you don’t simply give up, but rather look for the tiniest place to take on part of someone’s role that they hold a death-grip on.

Small, incremental steps, done without much fanfare or even any discussion, can be a way to start to get someone to loosen that grip.

See Asking for Permission Vs. Asking for Forgiveness


The Beach Versus the Pool

Whenever I think about this subject, I have flashbacks of my Dad, who’s been gone for over a decade and a half.

I some ways we had a non-standard father-son relationship at work, where he was often quick to want to do something big, and I was the one who preferred we take our time and take a more modest approach.

I like to walk into the water at the beach, while he preferred to jump into the deep end of the pool, proverbially speaking.

I think this is a contrast from what you might normally see, where the rising generation want to go quickly and the elders force them to slow things down and not change things too fast.

However, he was very slow and progressive with his retirement, where he started taking a half a day off each week at 55, and then added another half day to that every year, until he got down to one day a week.


An Updated Torch Metaphor?

Let’s close out with a torch metaphor that may not be the one you’re used to hearing.

The expression “passing the torch” is well worn and actually often counterproductive when it comes to family transitions.

I prefer the version where each person has their own torch, and the flames from the elders’ torches are used to ignite those of the members of the rising generation.

This way, everyone can maintain as tight a grip as they want, because it can be dangerous to simply let go of a flaming torch anyway.

What People Like to Know Beforehand

Whenever experts share what’s important for families to do to successfully transition their business to the next generation, the concept of holding regular family meetings is always at or near the top of the list.

That all sounds pretty straightforward and simple, doesn’t it?

Of course simple is not the same as easy, as I frequently repeat.

Losing weight and quitting smoking are also pretty simple to explain, yet obviously much more difficult to do.

Ideas, they say, are a dime a dozen. It all comes down to implementation.

So this week we’re going to look at one of the key parts of getting families on the right path to regular meetings, by properly setting expectations.

See Great Expectations in Enterprising Families


Start with WHY

Whenever you bring people together for a specific reason, it’s so important for everyone to be on the same page as to why they’re being asked to assemble.

If people are unclear, and/or people arrive with different understandings as to why they’re there, then you should not be surprised if your results are sub-optimal.

Of course that doesn’t mean that all meetings are always perfectly in sync with respect to this question, far from it.

It is, though, something I recommend you strive for, and constantly work to ensure.

Knowing why you’re getting together, and working to constantly keep that “why” clear and consistent for all attendees, is so important.

It’s essential to try to instill this for meetings with family members, around the transitions you’re working towards.

See Live from the Forum: Successful Transitions


What to Expect, Generally – Why vs. What

Assuming you can all get clear and agree on why you’re coming together, we can now switch over and start looking at the “what” questions, or some of the details.

In my world, “what” questions are a category that also includes some of the other important yet mundane details, such as “when” and “where”.

It’s obviously key to make sure that the time and place are clear, but once those are set, they’re quickly forgotten. Not so with some of the questions we’ll get to now.

Another relatively simple question might seem to be “what are we going to discuss?” which typically becomes another version of “what’s on the agenda”.

This seems straightforward, yet can become tricky as well.

Because we’re talking about what’s supposed to become a regular series of meetings here, having a “standard agenda format” is ideal, yet not something you can expect to get perfectly established right from the first meeting.


Some Key “Who” Details

We’ve covered some key details so far, yet haven’t even addressed the “who” elements.

Who’s invited, who’ll show up, who’ll lead the meetings, who’ll support that leader, and who’ll speak in what order, are all areas to be considered.

Again, the answers to these questions can evolve with time and vary as some trial and error naturally takes place.

Having someone who cares about such details and who works to make things clear and consistent is paramount.


Repetition and Reinforcing Habits

For such a series of meetings to get traction, it’s important to find a repeatable process to get everyone in the habit of understanding what is expected.

A regular opening to set the stage can involve a check in around good news or gratitude, or re-reading a family mission statement.

Early on, if things have been contentious, maybe re-reading agreed upon guidelines might be necessary.

A standard ending about setting the next date, going over what was agreed to, and who will do what in the interim can also make sense.


Engagement and Alignment Revisited

Families who are working on these transitions can struggle with getting all family members engaged, so it’s important not to set expectations too high. 

It’s normal for it to take time, especially when beginning such meetings comes out of the blue.

See Family Engagement and Family Alignment – Chicken and Egg

Remember that engagement and alignment need to remain top of mind, and when one is missing, you can sometimes work on the other and get success.


My “Meeting # 0” Philosophy

I shared more here than I expected, and I didn’t leave myself enough room to talk about my “Meeting # 0” (Meeting Number Zero) idea.

I came up with this a few years ago and have used it on a number of occasions with success, and now other folks I know have begun to use it too.

We’ll look at that some more next week.

Another Look at Human Capital, Family Style

Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to serve on a number of boards and committees in various areas of my life.

Of course it typically feels good to give back in time and effort to causes one holds dear, but there’s much more to it than that.

The opportunity to be part of something and shape how it will move forward is also significant, and a great reason why many people choose to get involved in such service.

One undervalued part of such an experience, though, is the chance to continue to learn.

As someone who toils in the area of family governance, any situation where I’m part of how anything is being governed is a valuable (and valued!) learning opportunity.


An Organization Taking Its Next Steps

I’ve been part of an international organization for almost a decade now and have served on some committees for its annual conference for most of that time.

We’re currently going through some big changes as we prepare for a future where we’re evolving from the work of a founder, and now need to put in place a more sustainable structure, one that’s more about shared leadership.

Naturally there’s a whole “meta” thing going on here, as what we are doing mirrors the work many of us do when we work with family clients who are going from their first generation founder to a sibling leadership team.

I was happy and proud to have recently been asked to join the committee that is charged with initiating and overseeing our governance and recruitment processes.


People as a Strategy

During our initial meeting as a committee, the head of the group, who also has a seat on the Board of the organization, had us spend some time on figuring out how we all saw our mandate and how we wanted to be together.

As someone who’s been involved with families as they set forth on a new journey around how they want to govern themselves, I was in familiar territory here.

Thankfully, because the other members of this group had been well selected, we all felt that this was time very well spent.

But just as we all felt at home spending time on seemingly unproductive activities, we all know that in most business settings this could be viewed as a waste of everyone’s time together.

And then the leader of our group quoted someone (sorry, I forgot who it was, and Google unearthed several possible sources) who said “Our people are our strategy”.


All Our Heads Were Nodding

At this point all of our heads were nodding, as our small group understood that the strength of our whole organization was in its human capital, and it was important for us to maintain that moving forward.

When working together with family members, it isn’t always easy to get such solid agreement. 

So many other issues can arise when everyone is related, and the freedom to add or subtract people from the group is much more limited, or at least can be tricky.

I’m going to pivot in an unexpected direction now, as I just had an A-Ha moment as I wrote this.


The Right Seats on the Right Bus

Because it’s typically much harder to get rid of a family member than someone who isn’t related, perhaps a reassignment of seats is more realistic in many cases.

Much like the committee we were discussing earlier, which was hand selected, putting the right people in the right seats is key when you are working with a family enterprise.

And, thankfully, once you’ve achieved a certain size and maturity, there can be a number of different places where family members can be placed for positive effect.

As noted a few months back in Supporting Roles in the Family Enterprise, various family members can occupy a number of different roles in support of the family’s overall success.


Addition by Subtraction Is Also a Thing

There’s always a balance that’s in play when finding the best place for everyone.

You need to find people to play important roles, but at the same time you can sometimes need to find roles for people.

Don’t forget that sometimes you can make something better by adding someone, and at other times you can make something better by removing someone.

Hopefully your family isn’t a hotbed of addition by subtraction, but sometimes it’s a reality you must face.

Testing My Message for Resonance

I recently returned from a quick swing through the Toronto area, along with some new business partners.

We met with a number of folks I’ve already known for a while, along with some new faces.

Having recently aligned my services for family enterprise clients with a group of like-minded professionals, we did a little “road show” to explain our methodology and offering to potential collaborators.

These visits allowed me to repeat a favourite message of mine on a number of occasions, to a varied audience, which helped me to gauge its resonance.

I’m happy to say that most people truly got it, and so I’ll address it here once again, along with a new twist.

Unfortunately, this new idea won’t be a panacea, but I hope it will stimulate some thought among readers, which is always a goal of mine here.


Getting Clients to Realize They Need Us

I’ve long understood that the type of resources and services that enterprising families could benefit from are not necessarily very obvious, even to those families who face the challenges that they do.

Working with family members or co-owning assets together presents some significant yet predictable challenges, but the families themselves typically think of themselves as unique.

Of course each family is unique, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any other families who have successfully faced and overcome similar challenges to theirs.

The way I’ve explained this is to say that while there is a huge need for what we do, that doesn’t nicely or neatly translate into a similar demand for these services.

That message, the one about the fact that there’s a large need, but not necessarily a huge demand, was the one I repeated at each meeting.

Most heads nodded in agreement, as I had expected.


Big Pharma Seems to Have It Covered

Anyone who watches TV, especially programming from the US, will be quite familiar with the multitude of pharmaceutical commercials with which viewers are constantly bombarded.

The drug companies spend millions coming up with products that solve for a condition from which many people suffer.

But in order to get those people to buy their product, the end customers need to learn about the existence of this magic solution, so that they can then go see their doctor and ask for it.

Of course it wasn’t always this way, but it seems to be quite prevalent now, so I think we can conclude that it must be working.

Rather than focusing on pushing their product through the medical community (which they surely also continue to do) they create awareness through their commercials to instead pull the demand through via the end users.


“Ask Your Advisors About Family Governance”

So whereas we’re all familiar with phrases like “Ask your doctor about Blekthrypligo”, somehow a similar “Ask your advisors about family governance” doesn’t sound like it holds as much promise.

This field is continuing to evolve, though, and has a lot of room to grow still.

There are many players from a variety of professions who serve and interact with families every day.

These people can see and detect issues that each family faces, even though they may not be in a position to work with the family to resolve these needs.

Our hope is that once other professionals are aware of our offering and ability to become additional, complementary resources to their family clients, the necessary introductions will be made.


Turning Supply into Demand, One Family at a Time

This requires these other professionals to have an abundance mentality, and not fear bringing in outside specialists with complementary skill sets.

I wouldn’t say that this attitude is prevalent or even widespread yet, but it does feel like we are moving in that direction.

In some fields, notably financial wealth management, it seems to be moving a bit faster.

Collaboration in this space continues to be a challenge, but progress is happening.

With time, and with more and more people concentrating on serving the families and not just their enterprises, we can make a bigger impact.

Not every family needs these kinds of resources all the time, but as a generational transition approaches, complexities increase and “structural” solutions are often insufficient for handling “relationship” issues.

Families don’t typically handle these challenges well on their own.

But reaching out for guidance and assistance doesn’t have to be a challenge.

No, Not MBA, MBWA

Whenever I share my personal backstory, I always include the part about going away for a couple of years to do my MBA.

That’s because it was right after my MBA studies and my return to our family enterprise that big changes occurred for me, thanks to our unexpected liquidity event.

See Finding the Liquidity Sweet Spot for your Family

Instead of the steel fabrication business I was expecting to eventually take over, I ended up running our small family office.

The part of my story that typically gets skipped, however, is that before doing my MBA I was quite busy doing lots of MBWA.

During a recent coaching call with a client, he brought up this term, and it conjured up great memories for me, which I’ll share below.


Nothing Wrong with Doing an MBA

Let’s first dispense with a couple of MBA matters. 

Last year in Getting your MBA to Lead your FamBiz – 5 Things to Consider, I shared some thoughts on the potential value of pursuing MBA studies in advance of taking on a greater role in one’s family enterprise.

Looking back now, I regret one key word choice I made, right there in the headline.

I’ve long tried to make the distinction that I “did” my MBA, and I didn’t simply “get” and MBA.

Trust me, in the program I was in, there was a great deal of “doing”.

To me, “getting” an MBA makes it sound like something you grab off a shelf.

My bias is that too many people “get” their MBA, while not enough actually “do” their MBA, but maybe that’s just the boomer in me.


Wandering Back to the MBWA Discussion

When I was in the first 3 years of my career in our business, which I entered right after my undergrad, I quickly determined that the most important thing I was supposed to do was to learn the business.

I had some vaguely defined roles and tasks related to marketing and then scheduling production and reporting contract status to customers, but the main thing I felt I was supposed to do is figure out how everything worked.

Because I had the same name as the founder, along with a “Jr.” appended to the end, there was literally no place I could not go.

I learned a ton doing that, yet felt like I was wasting a lot of time being unproductive. Until, that is, the book In Search of Excellence came out.

When I read it and learned that “Management By Wandering Around” (MBWA) was actually a thing, it was a true Eureka moment for me.

I felt legitimized.


Sibling Partners with Different Styles

Then a few weeks ago, while on a coaching call with one of two siblings who are learning to co-lead the business they’ve recently taken over from their father, the younger one surprised me.

The book I referred to came out early in my career, well before these current clients were even born, and now I was hearing something about “I wish my sibling would learn to do more Managing by Wandering Around, like I do”.

You can imagine the smile this put on my face, as I shared much of what I wrote above.

So let’s close out by looking at what can be gained by adding a bit of MBWA to roles in one’s family enterprise.


See and Be Seen

When you wander around your business, you see a lot of things that you otherwise might not notice if you just sat comfortably in your office.

And not only do you see things and people, people also see you

Connecting with your people is something that often gets overlooked, and the work from home trend that Covid imposed certainly had an impact on this.

Being seen as caring about your people and interacting with them and perhaps even speaking with customers are all important parts of running a business.


Working In the Business and On the Business

Then there’s the part about not only working in your business, but also working on your business

That was the point my client was making regarding their sibling and the responsibility to be overseeing the business and not just doing the job of being one of the cogs.

Wandering around, and managing while doing so, is a way to kind of do both at the same time.

There are opportunities to learn, and also to teach, and more people should probably be doing more of it.

Some New Thoughts on Old Ideas

This week I want to look at some ideas I’ve written about here over the years, and share some of the new ways I’ve begun to think about them more recently.

I just attended the annual FFI Conference in NYC, where my thoughts are always stimulated, as I get to gather and absorb the latest from many of the standouts in the field of family enterprise.

It was during the opening keynote that the seed for this blog was planted, when the speaker talked about how so often we need to sit back and see what emerges.

Hmmm, I thought; I often talk about how things need to evolve, but he’s talking about emergence. How are they similar and how are they different?

That question is where we’ll begin, but then later we’ll look at the idea of rebirth, which emerged in my mind after a fantastic breakout session the following day. (See what I did there?)


Evolution Vs Emergence – Compare and Contrast

Long time readers (thanks!) are familiar with the fact that I love to talk about evolution whenever the subject turns to family governance.

See The Evolution of Family Governance

I believe that the best and most sustainable governance is co-created and built very slowly over time. 

I always suggest this approach, because so many people need time to understand and accept whatever processes and structures they are putting together to govern the way their family relates to their business.

See From Understanding to Agreement, Via Acceptance

What I had not considered until now is how and where the idea of emergence fits into this long process.

While this is still relatively new thinking in my head, my initial view is that there are small ideas that emerge during this evolution, and then each of those needs to be looked at on its own.

Some of the things that emerge, perhaps as a suggestion, will turn out to be less than ideal, and then they should be discarded.

Other ideas will emerge, and seem useful, may become championed by some family members, and then could become part of how things evolve positively going forward.


Dealing with the Little Ideas that Emerge

That whole process of figuring out how to deal with the little ideas that emerge during the longer arc of evolution, becomes the day-to-day aspect of making sure that the governance being built will be “fit-for-purpose” for that particular family.

See Making your Transition Plans “Fit for Purpose” from last week.

Suggestions are mentioned, debated, and perhaps tried out. Some will stick, and likely get modified and improved over time, while others will prove to be unusable or detrimental, and will be discontinued.

Thus little things that emerge become, or not, part of the overall evolution of how the family decides how to be together.


All Good Things Must Come to an End

Switching timeframes now, there was another great session at the conference, called When It’s Time to Part Ways.

I typically search out the breakout sessions that deal with subjects we don’t talk about enough in our field, and this one fit the bill.

So many sessions treat finding better ways to make sure that we can support families we work with as they attempt to transition their family’s assets to the next generation, all while preserving family togetherness.

Many times, however, a family will be at the logical end of its ability to do this for one more generation, and trying to find a way to part ways amicably becomes an interesting and important option to look at.


Rebirth – Success After “Failure”?

During audience discussion at that session, it became clear that the most common reason this rarely gets pursued by families (and their advisors) is that it feels like a failure if the family is unable to keep its business or wealth under broad family ownership through their next generational transition.

But often by the time they do get there, they wish they’d done it ten years earlier!

As advisors, we need to have the courage to put such ideas on the table, showing families that it is not a failure, and actually becomes an opportunity for rebirth.

If wealth is separated after family members part ways, new ideas will surely emerge in various family branches.

The really good ones that emerge will continue to evolve in positive ways, and the whole family will hopefully have avoided a situation where family relationships have been irreparably harmed.

Isn’t that a success?

Just What Are You Trying to Achieve?

The subjects I cover in this space typically have something to do with families who’ve accumulated a certain level of wealth, who eventually get to the stage where transitioning that wealth to the next generation has become a priority.

When I work with such families, it’s always simpler when they’re still early in their journey, because when they start fresh, I can guide them through some of the important considerations that I know will become pertinent down the road.

Oftentimes they’ll have already begun with some of the legal and structural preparations that other professionals have suggested in good faith, but that end up causing issues on the human and relationship side of the family’s reality.

All of this preamble is designed to set up a look at making sure that a family’s transition plans are actually “fit for purpose”.


Consumer Protection Origins in the UK

The term “fit for purpose” is one I’ve heard off and on in recent years and at some point I noted it as a possible blog topic.

As I dusted it off recently, I decided to do some quick research and found that its origins are based in the UK, and derive from consumer protection laws.

 

That is, if a product is deemed to not be “fit for purpose” the purchaser can return it for a refund.

The term later got renewed life in a political context when an opposition party stated that someone or something in the government was not “fit for purpose”, and when that story got legs, the term became part of the lexicon.

So why am I bringing this up in a family wealth transition blog? I’m glad you asked.


Asking Some Basic Questions Is Key

When we attempt to determine if anything is “fit for purpose”, the first question that begs is “what is the purpose?”

Getting back to the general topic of planning for a transition of wealth, such plans are typically supposed to tick a number of proverbial boxes, i.e. they have multiple purposes.

Having both the wealth AND the family relationships survive the next generational transition are usually among the goals families have.

But because relationships are nebulous and hard to define, this can play second fiddle to other purposes that are more easily quantified, like, oh, maybe, saving taxes?

Most clients’ heads will nod when presented with an iron clad plan that guarantees that they’ll owe less taxes, without getting into the details of the side effects of such plans that may impinge the family relations purpose noted above.


Doing Things “On Purpose”

If we think back to our childhood, our first exposure to the word “purpose” was likely in the context of a sibling interaction where someone got hurt and then blamed the other.

“He did it on purpose”, you may have exclaimed to the nearest parent.

“No, it was an accident”, the other would say, in their defence.

So here we have our first nugget, one “opposite” of doing things on purpose is getting something haphazard, i.e. by accident.

As long as we’re looking at expressions that contain words about purpose, regular readers already know my love for the Purposeful Planning Institute and the great community I belong to thanks to that group.


For All Intents and Purposes

The word “intent” gets combined with purpose in the expression “for all intents and purposes”.

Families I work with need to be very intentional about how they make sure that their relationships will remain strong.

“Things don’t just happen by themselves”, I often tell them. This takes work and families need to be very intentional.

Getting back to “fit for purpose”, my intention here is to make sure that families make the effort to consider how their plans to transition their wealth are going to impact their family relationships.


Very Fit for One Purpose, Unfit for Others

Too often, some of the decisions families are advised to make for one purpose, like saving taxes or making sure that access to the wealth is severely limited, end up creating undesirable side effects.

I try to make sure families think through their choices so as to avoid those shortcomings.

Openly sharing the purpose of what the family is trying to achieve is also a big part of how families succeed, because that transparency is part of the solution too.

Continually asking “what are we trying to accomplish” never hurts.