Naveen Khajanchi is an alumnus of INSEAD. He is chief executive of Executive Search Service, an executive coach and a family business adviser.
In the family council meeting in a city in India, the patriarch of the fast-moving consumer goods family business proudly proclaimed: “I have blocked a bed, nurse, doctor, oxygen cylinder and injection, which will be available for anyone of us if we fall prey to Covid-19. I’m not taking any chances.”
It was family business as usual. Two founding brothers running their enterprise with their four children—two daughters and two sons—in different stages of being groomed to take up important positions. The elders continued to occupy leadership roles and their trusted advisers made sure that the power of decision was always retained by them.
Family business involves the informal, the unsaid and the invisible as much as the formal, the said and the visible. It’s all about the past linked to the present and the future with each family member having a unique lens of interpretation that’s relevant and true for them from their perspective.
Succession by virtue of birth and family dynamics is a phenomenon that occurs quite frequently. We see it on the news or because it is happening in the organisation we work for, or simply because it’s happening in our family owned business. The successor is handed over the reins of the business, but can he or she run the business? What are the factors that determine the success of the succession? Can this be left to chance or “It runs in the blood” factor?
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