Family owned businesses need to be cautious of unintended consequences. Often a shoot from the hip great idea has many, many ramifications.
In the social sciences, unintended consequences are outcomes that are not the ones foreseen and intended by a purposeful action. The term was popularized in the twentieth century by American sociologist Robert K. Merton
Unintended consequences can be grouped into three types:
- Unexpected benefit: A positive, unexpected benefit (also referred to luck, serendipity or a windfall).
- Unexpected drawback: A negative, unexpected detriment occurring in addition to the desired effect of the policy (e.g., while irrigation schemes provide people with water for agriculture, they can increase waterborne diseases that have devastating health effects, such as schistosomiasis)
- Perverse result: A perverse effect contrary to what was originally intended (when an intended solution makes a problem worse). This is sometimes referred to as ‘backfire’.
Open doors create opportunity. Open doors may generate anxiety. Open doors should make us think. Family businesses that grow and succeed, plan and evaluate. The evaluation maybe quick and at times undocumented.In the text The 20 Management Principles of the U.S. Marines the author details the first principle, Aim For the 70 Percent Solution. In the Family Business we need to focus on the how, what we must not do, consider morale, what did we overlook and what is the “bump in the road plan”
Saturday at the I Town Church in Indianapolis the sermon was about opening doors. The pastor invited the congregation to consider limits rather than specifications. Two key points in that really struck home.
- “What am I doing that I should not be doing, what should I be doing that I’m not?”
- Stop Consuming Start Contributing!
In Family Businesses planning is sometimes overlooked. We overlook that part of our job as leaders is to drive the plan. To build an organization that is based on capability.
Planning, there is a Chinese proverb:
That translates to “If you are planning for a year, sow rice; if you are planning for a decade, plant trees; if you are planning for a lifetime, educate people”
Family Businesses need to plan
A simple plan would include:
- Goals-short-mid-long term
- Competitive Intel
- New Diverse opportunities’
- Do you plan to grow, how? Organic, M&A
- HR Due Diligence-performance planning
- Talent-retention, recruiting and attracting
Family Business are often surprised how easy these steps are to accomplish. Our experience at HRB & Associates is that working together in a conversational, yet challenging interview moves this process along. In the movie Rounder’s Mile quotes Darrell Brunson, “The key to No–Limit… is to put a man to a decision … “
A key in Family Business is to get the Family to Plan, without a plan unintended consequences are outcomes that are nearly guaranteed.