Family business &
succession planning


Family business &
succession planning

A unique paradigm exists for families-in-business: family dynamics influence organizational strategy and organizational strategy impacts family dynamics.

My clients own significant shared assets, including operating businesses, family offices, property, and foundations. These shared assets, coupled with the existing paradigm, create a complex set of challenges for individual family members and their operating businesses. These challenges range from business strategy and trust structures to personal motivation. I work with my clients to untangle these challenges and answer questions like: who should own what, how should those assets be owned, what are the individual, familial, and organizational implications, and how do we achieve the objectives? Like every family, there is no single solution, but there are options, trade-offs, and best practices. I work with my clients to understand these options while staying focused on their organization’s continuity and their family’s legacy.

Instead of replacing my client’s advisors, I partner with them and serve as the connective thread that keeps the process moving and on target. For some of my clients, my work begins because of an immediate situation due to family dynamics or an organizational challenge. For others, my work begins when there is an acceptance that one generation’s leadership will come to an end and the next generation is seeking to continue the family’s legacy. In either case, I help my clients align on objectives, create a roadmap to achieve those objectives, and then execute.



“Families are like branches on a tree, they grow in different directions, yet their roots remain as one.”



My Process

My process for working with families-in-business has two phases:  Assessment & Planning and Execution. In the assessment and planning phase, I look to uncover root-case issues that may hinder, or fully prevent, succession success. My scope of exploration includes family members working in the business, family members not working in the business, outside advisors, and key non-family executives. I work with the family and outside advisors to map the course from one generation to the next.

In the execution phase, I work with all the stakeholders to execute on the plan, from executive coaching and family meeting facilitation to advisor coordination.

 Phase I: Assessment & Planning

Succession planning is multi-dimensional, taking into consideration 1) the needs and desires of the individuals in the senior generation and rising generation, 2) the business strategy, and 3) the legal, tax, and financial dynamics of the family. To inform this interdisciplinary work, I use three activities to help families assess and plan for succession. This assessment phase consists of a quantitative assessment, called Family Business Legacy Roadmap™, individual interviews, and family meetings.


Phase I: Assessment & Planning (continued)

Family Business Legacy Roadmap™

Family Business Legacy Roadmap™ is a scientifically-validated assessment developed by psychologist and family business advisor, Dean Fowler, Ph.D, measuring a family’s readiness across four pathways and (12) competencies:

  • Family Dynamics: The first pathway for success for families-in-business is healthy family dynamics, which reflect the culture, communication patterns, roles and relationships within the nuclear and extended family.
  • Family Preparation and Development: The second pathway for success is the preparation and development of the “rising” generation, most often, those family members who develop the interest, maturity, and competency for leadership roles in the family business.
  • Business Preservation and Growth: The third pathway is rooted in the current and future success of the business itself. This pathway is grounded in the goals and objectives that the shareholders have as a group for the family business which they own. For success, the organizational structure, management team, and strategy of the business need to be in alignment with the family’s mission and vision.
  • Transition Planning: The final pathway for success involves the transition of both the ownership and the leadership of the business to the next generation, or the decision to sell the business.
Family Business Legacy Roadmap™

Family Business Legacy Roadmap™

Phase I: Assessment & Planning (continued)


Following the conclusion of the Family Business Legacy Roadmap™, interviews are conducted with family members and non-family members to explore the nuances that surface in the Family Business Legacy Roadmap™ assessment. These interviews provide the additional context needed to achieve the family’s vision and objectives.

Family Meetings:

The assessment phase concludes with a family meeting (or meetings) to discuss the results of the assessment and layout next steps. This family meeting allows members of the family to share additional thoughts about ideal outcomes and socialize concerns that are better addressed early in the planning process.

 Phase II: Execution

With a knowledge illuminated by the assessment phase, execution consists of coordinating activities between the family, corporate leadership, and family advisors and then putting the plan into action. This phase requires an interdisciplinary understanding between each family member’s motivations, family dynamics, business strategy, and estate planning. While there is often a perception that “putting the plan in place” can be done in week or months, the reality is that this process can, and often should, take years as business conditions evolve, family members are readied for leadership roles, and tax and estate laws change. Work during the execution phase includes:

  • Developing and facilitating family meetings or family councils

  • Meeting regularly with the family member’s advisors

  • Providing executive coaching for current and future family leaders and connecting these leaders to others in similar positions through Bench Strength Collectives for Family Enterprises

  • Attending board meetings (as an observer) to help inform the intersection between the family’s succession plan and the business strategy

ADDITIONAL Information


Josh is a coach and family business advisor, helping individuals, entrepreneurs, families, and boards of directors maximize potential.

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