A family’s mission statement documents who you are today, what your priorities are, and how you agree to interact with one another. It spells out your commitments—to the family, to the business, to the board and to the community.
I’ve helped several families define their missions. In many cases, families want to be the best possible partner with the board of management. They want to do everything they can to avoid distracting the business leaders with lawsuits or other conflicts. They want to manage the family’s relationship with the business so that nobody in the family is trying to influence management, or calling the directors before meetings to make sure their voice is going to be heard. They also want to have fun, enjoy each other, share their wealth and knowledge with others, and be good stewards of the business and community.
Your mission may not be more complicated than this—you may want your business to remain family owned. You want to live your values, and you want this to be a really positive thing for your community and your family.
Although the mission may be simple, it has a big impact on the tone of the interactions between the family and the business, and between individual members of the family. If a family ever has a big conflict, they can always come back to the mission and ask themselves if the mission statement is still true.
- Do we still want to remain family owned?
- Do we want to be a good partner with the board and management?
- Do we want to have a deep bench of qualified family leaders and directors?
- Do we want to live our values?
If the answer is, yes, then it makes the conflict a little easier to address because everyone knows that they agree fundamentally on the same things. If a family has agreement on the big things, the other things seem more manageable.