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The Family Business Advisor
September 2012 Issue


 

Must the Prince Kill the King? 

By Albert Jan Thomassen 

   

For more than a quarter century, I have been regularly involved in leadership transitions in family businesses. What strikes me again and again is how incredibly difficult it is for the current leader and the successor to agree to the ultimate moment when the leadership of the company is fully transferred. "It feels like I, as the Prince, have to kill the King, but I don't want that at all," a successor replied when asked why he took no action against his father who could not let go.

 

Willfully killing the King (or Queen) in order to take his or her seat on the throne is not a good feeling. Most people do not want to take down the current leader in order to ascend to their position. If the successor is also related to the current leader, the family bond may add to feelings of ambivalence around the entire succession process. However, for a family business to continue to thrive in an increasingly competitive business environment, it can be opportune that a new leader comes in with ambition, desire for innovation and decisiveness. Some business founders may become less agile and more conservative over time and the company would benefit from the ideas and energy of the next generation. Yet, while new blood and ideas in leadership may be needed for the business-sons and daughters do not relish the idea of fights with their father to make this happen. How can the right transition steps be taken for the business without destroying the family relationships that may be involved?

 

Read the four transition steps.  Click Here 

 

KRUPP: A History of the Legendary German (Family) Firm

By John L. Ward

 

Krupp Logo
The three rings were the symbol for Krupp, based on the radreifen - the seamless railway wheels patented by Alfred Krupp. The rings are currently part of the ThyssenKrupp logotype.

 

 

German Family Capitalism:

A company represents "permanent life" and is a way to build a society around an idea of community. (p 293)

 

 

 

 

 

 

A great new book recently came out, by distinguished business historian Harold James (published by Princeton Press). It analyzes the dramatic 200 year, six-generation story of the Krupp steel, etc., business and the Krupp family. As with all excellent history, the times, the industry dynamics, the politics and coincidence all provide exciting context. Also, the lessons for business families are many - particularly a better understanding of what's also known as "Rhineland Capitalism" or "German Family Capitalism."

 

What makes German Family Capitalism?

 

  

 

 Continue reading the Krupp story. Click Here

 

 

 KRUPP: A History of the Legendary German Firm

 

 

 

 

  

Meet the Authors
Albert Jan Thomassen
Albert Jan Thomassen

Albert Jan Thomassen is a Consultant and educator on strategic planning, governance and succession topics for family owned businesses. He is known for his ability to constructively work on balancing family, ownership and business interests to support the continuity and prosperity of the family business. Identifying and addressing emotional issues in a functional manner is an integral part of his work.

 

Albert Jan is on the faculty of TiasNimbas Business School specialising in family business governance. He is also executive director of FBNed, the family firms association in the Netherlands and serves on the executive committee of the Family Business Network.

 

Continue Reading Albert Jan's Biography.  

 

 
John Ward
John L. Ward

A co-founder of the Family Business Consulting Group Inc., Ward is clinical professor and co-director for The Center for Family Enterprises, Kellogg School of Management (Chicago, USA). Ward teaches strategic management, business leadership and family enterprise continuity. He is an active researcher, speaker and consultant on family succession, ownership, governance and philanthropy.

 

Continue Reading John's Biography.  

 

 

 

 

 

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August 2012

 

Seven Steps to Sustainability in Family Business - A Cautionary Tale

 

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