Checking Alignment Among Family Owners


Scientists say that, when we respond to the external world, we are really responding to the brain’s interpretation of the jumble of data received from the eyes, ears, and other parts of the body.

The brain does a great job of filtering data to make it more manageable. A lot of data is ignored because it isn’t relevant. If the brain can save time and effort, it will.

But what if the brain is so focused on making data more manageable that it imposes patterns and predictions that aren’t valid?

It’s often said that "seeing is believing." But sometimes we see what we believe. We ignore any evidence to the contrary, insisting that reality must fit with our beliefs.

Here’s an example: a family owner feels strongly that the family business should achieve even more impact in the region where it operates. He knows that the younger generation are concerned about impact. So he believes it’s a definite fact that they agree with him. He’s 100% sure of it!

He doesn’t realize that his definition of region is very different to theirs. He’s always lived in the same town and that’s where he’s focused. In contrast the younger generation have lived in several places and, for them, "region" could mean almost anywhere in the country. And anyway, who cares about a few local initiatives, they want to achieve global impact!

So the action point is:

Take the extra step of reality-checking assumptions and ask questions that seem obvious to you, even dumb.

In our experience, enterprising families can experience surprise and disappointment when family members "suddenly" refuse to support much-cherished ideas for contributing to society and giving forward. The disappointment is less bitter when every person, at every stage, has made the effort to believe what they actually see – even if it’s different to what they want to see.

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