Because I like to consider myself somewhat of a communications specialist, I attach a great deal of importance to my choice of words, as I always want to be as clear as possible about everything I say and write.
There is already plenty of miscommunication and misunderstanding going on out there, I certainly don’t want to add to it. I much prefer to help to try to clean things up instead.
At the behest of my business coach, Melissa, who has been working with me for almost a year now, I recently added a simplified service offering on my website, which we dubbed the “Family Harmony Breakthrough Package”. I have to admit that the word “breakthrough” took a while to grow on me, but now I love it.
Let me explain it a bit, in the hopes that its full meaning does not get lost in the “marketing-ness” of the way it may sound to some. I am all about the family harmony part, it was Melissa who came up with the “breakthrough package” part.
I won’t explain what family harmony is, but the other two words are something I would like to clarify. Let’s start with “package”.
In the field of family business advising, the offer the consultant makes to the family can never be easily and clearly defined to everyone’s satisfaction, and this contributes to the hesitancy that many families already have when it comes to bringing in an “outsider” to help them.
So, inspired by some coaches who offer a “six-month package”, or a “nine-month package”, I have now launched what I call the Family Harmony Breakthrough Package, where the term “package” is designed mostly to set out the stages and the boundaries of what is involved.
The package has pre-defined steps, has a clear starting point and end point, and a deliverable. The timeframe can vary due to complexity and logistics, but 2-3 months is about average. When a family signs on, they know in advance what to expect in terms of the process.
I believe in the adage that it is important to under promise and over deliver, and that is the main reason that I hesitated to use the word “breakthrough” in the name of the package, but as I stated earlier, it grew on me. Let me tell you why.
Many families, if not most families, coexist in a state that I like to call “okay”. Everything is “okay”, pretty much. You may know this state by another familiar term, “fine”. Everything is just fine.
Okay and fine are a good place to be, right? Well yes, but…
A typical business family has a large number of moving parts, and an even greater number of relationships. On a day-to-day or week-to-week basis, “okay” and “fine” are much better than “crappy” and “lousy”.
One of the advantages that family businesses have over others is their long-term view, as the business is set up to provide for the needs of the family over future generations. Thinking long term, “okay” and “fine” just won’t cut it.
The key people will grow into new roles, the founders will age and exit, and the people involved will see their relationships change too, and not always for the better.
The breakthrough comes when some time and effort is put into looking at, thinking about, and planning where these relationships are now, and talking about how the people are going to work together in the future. There is a whole heckuva lot of inertia to overcome, and few families will do this on their own, without an independent outside expert to guide them.
The time to act is when things are going well. On my business card, I say that I am a “facilitator, coach, and mediator”. It is much more pleasant to work the first two roles, and less fun to mediate a dispute.
The back of my card has my tagline: Helping business families create the harmony they need, to support the legacy they want. Is your family ready for a breakthrough?