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Dennis JaffeAdelaide Thinkers in Residence public lecture

The Future of Family Business in South Australia

With Dr Dennis Jaffe

Co-presented by Adelaide Thinkers in Residence and The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre at UniSA

DR JAFFE:
It is wonderful to – I have been here for two months and it is wonderful to be in a room and to see so many people that I have gotten to know and so many people that I really regard as my partners in this process. When I got the call – I mean, the way a Thinker in Residence is chosen is you do the choosing but the Thinker really has nothing to do with it. So I got a phone call about a year ago asking if I was interested, and you have no idea how difficult it is to explain the concept of Thinker in Residence and what you are going to do. And then when you say you are going to do it, you have no idea how much kidding you are going to get from your friends when you tell them: well, I’m going to Australia to be a Thinker in Residence. And they say: yes, well, you can say you are going to go on vacation, you know, it is allowed.

They say: well, what is a Thinker in Residence, you going to be like a tutor for a family or something? And I said: well. So I came here and I came here just about two months ago and got off the plane. I knew absolutely nobody. I got off, said: well, what are we – you know, what am I supposed to do? And in the time since then I have had a wonderful time. First of all, being a Thinker in Residence is, I believe, an absolutely unique opportunity. In my case, I work with individual families and I have never been in a situation where instead of working with an individual family, I have been asked to work with a whole region and a whole, what they call, an ecosystem to look at promoting the next generations and the sustainability of family business. And it has been a wonderful stretch experience for me and I hope that, as I present the next hour and present my report, I can give back to you as much as I have received.

South Australia, it is a wonderful, wonderful place. As an outsider, coming in – it is like a – it is very much like a Greek city state. It is about – it is a small sort of isolated place with a lot of arid land around it and yet it has got an incredibly prosperous, vital, civic society within it and it faces a number of challenges due to its success. For example, as you are facing the future you are facing a future of expanded mining and the mining sector may be effecting some of the other businesses, in particular, be attracting other people out of the businesses that they are doing here. The strength of the dollar and the strength of the economy is something that makes it harder for small businesses to be exporters and to compete globally. But the biggest challenge that I saw when I came here is the fact that you have two very, very scarce resources.

One, that everybody talks about is water and, clearly, you have to think about sustainability and about where you are going to get water to support your future growth and development. The other scarce resource is a human resource, is people in the next generation to run the many businesses that you have created and to deal with the population that is like a lot of developed countries, is ageing. And what an ageing population means is that you simply don’t have two younger people for every older person and you don’t have bunches of people getting ready to step in as the businesses – as older generation leaves. So it is a challenge and there is - the scarcity of the next generation means that you have to treat it as a very precious resource and you need to be conscious about: what are we doing to do, how are we going to attract the next generation, how are we going to involve them in our businesses?

And we can, you know, kind of talk about generation X and generation Y and talk about all the many attractions of the mines and the outside worlds and the many things that they can do, but I think that the challenge that businesses are going to have to face is to create an attractive climate for the next generation to come in. Not just the people that are in the families that run the businesses, but there are 50,000 businesses and not every one of those businesses is going to have a next generation within the family, so other people have to be attracted and have to be brought in and have to be challenged to want to stay here and that is the natural resource challenge.

Now, I am a Business Professor and I am quite sure that I am the only Business Professor in the world that can say that I have written two books with the word, “Love”, in the title. And what made me – what led me to do that is a conviction that the workplace is not just a place to get things done, but is a place where, in the best of workplaces, you can bring yourself fully to work – you can be involved with other people. You can be in a workplace where people care for you and you care for other people and what they do and family businesses are a good example, when they work well, of how that can happen in a workplace – of a workplace where people do care for each and for what they are doing. And yet we hear that two-thirds of the family businesses won’t make it through to the next generation. What’s happening? Why aren’t they succeeding?

There is another challenge and every culture has some kind of a homily that goes rags to riches to rags in three generations and people that create businesses and family wealth are concerned about the next generation. And the question is: how do we avoid this, is this inevitable? And the sad news is: yes, it is inevitable, but it doesn’t have to be in three generations. A few weeks ago I was a speaker at a wonderful gathering run by Family Business Australia called the Hall of Fame. And at the Hall of Fame they had – they inducted four businesses which were several generations old, several of them over a 100 years. And, clearly, businesses like that disprove the adage that the rags to riches to rags has to be a three generational process. May be it can be strung out over many generations. What makes the difference?

It was a wonderful opportunity at the Hall of Fame to talk to these businesses and to hear their stories and there were three things that stood out for me that these businesses were doing. First of all, they were involved with each other. They were obviously – they liked each other, they spent time together, they were engaged together as a family as well as a business. The next generation – and there was a couple of two and three generation groups that were there actually in the room together and the next generation are not just – are clearly not people that just come in and pick up their pay cheque and do what needs to be done, go home. They had, in every case, re-invented the business, the businesses were constantly re-defining and re-inventing what they did and, in each case, there was what the business was today was very, very different than what it had been when it started.

So let us look at a little bit of history of family businesses and put them in a little bit of context. First of all, until a century ago there was nothing else but family business. A family was an economic unit. Family names, the Coopers, the Smiths, the Brewers – they are names of professions. A family was associated with the land or with the profession and that is what they did, and if you were a young person in that family you didn’t ask: what do I really want to do, what is my life about? You were – that is what you did or you starved. And so families worked together and passed things on. There were strict rules of inheritance, there was a primogeniture where the oldest son inherits, there were various kinds of ways that daughters were part of and not part of the family and they entered new families and everything was strictly prescribed.

Then the modern corporation was invented and people left the land and left the professions and entered these large industrial corporations. And the corporation was supposedly rational rather than unlike a family that was an emotional unit. And a rational business was one where people worked quietly and did what they were told and did repetitious things over and over again and did mass questions and that was considered the real business. And the other businesses were considered – family businesses were considered not real businesses. Now, what I would suggest is that family businesses are very special and they combine some of the good elements of a corporation industrial business with some of the elements of a family and this is where they can be very, very special places.

There was a study done actually by a couple of family businesses that had lasted for a long term and what they found is that these families – these businesses had several characteristics that actually other businesses can learn from. And in their study they found that many family businesses out-performed non-family businesses for a number of reasons. One reason is that the family takes a long-term perspective unlike corporation where there is a lot of short-term owners, the family has a thing that they call patient capital. And they are able, since they are looking ahead 30 or 40 years, they are able to plan and think without feeling pressure to deliver short-term results. And yet family businesses, like the businesses in the Hall of Fame, are incredibly flexible. They can shift, they can change, they can adapt to opportunities.

The other two things about the family businesses which other businesses can learn from is because they are made up of family members who are in the community and have a place in the community, they are very concerned with their relationships with their customers and with the community. They know that if your name is on the product and people know the family, it isn’t – if you do something that isn’t ethical or that isn’t a good product, you are going to hear about it, not just in the market-place but in church and in school and on the athletic field. So families are very concerned about customers and surprisingly or not so surprisingly they are also very connected and very – extend the idea of family to their employees and a lot of them have long-term employees and are considered – regularly make the list of best places to work.

So let us now talk about what is a family business. One of the challenges in – and there is – are there 50,000 or 60,000 or how many family businesses are there in South Australia? The reason it is hard to figure out is because a lot of family businesses don’t see themselves as family businesses. They are: I’m a plumber or I’m a food company or I’m a restaurant, but what’s a family business? So we need to define family business and there are three qualities that, I think, make up - general consensuses make up a family business. One is it is people in the same family that work together in a business and it is a business that they not just manage but that they own. And in most family businesses they want to pass it on to the – pass the ownership on to the next generation if at all possible.

Now, some families move, as they get bigger, towards professional management so they still remain family businesses in the sense that they control and own the business but they have turned it over to professional management, but I would still call that a family business. So family businesses in South Australia are an incredibly diverse group. They range from family home-based start ups where two people – one person starts a home-bases business and whose around to work in it? The spouse. The spouse begins to work there, other people in the family work there and businesses grow. There are retail industries, there are small manufacturing firms – I visited a silo manufacturer, I visited a great chocolate factory that we all know nearby and – two of them actually – and a number of other family businesses. And they get larger, but the diversity is such that a family business doesn’t necessarily see itself as just a family business.

The challenges of the family business is that the first generation, the older generation of many of these businesses, as baby boomers, are getting older. And the concern that led to my coming and to having a thinker in this area is that as people get older, the question is where and how is the succession process going to be managed? And many family businesses have the characteristic that they are not really thinking fully about this. They are kind of saying, like a lot of people say: well, we will deal with it tomorrow, we will think about it and there is some concern that, basically, the family businesses aren’t concerned about the issues that they should be concerned about.

The question is: do the family businesses have anything in common that obviously – what are some of the challenges that we have that we see in a family business? First of all, do we need special services for them? On the one hand the family businesses, we would say, are: well, they are like other businesses, a family business has all the same problems of other business. But there is another dimension and this is what makes family businesses special and especially challenging and that is that the family – family businesses also have to deal with the elements of family relationships. So my task, as a Thinker in Residence, has been to go around and I set myself the key performance factor to meet a 100 family businesses, to go around and to actually not look statistically at families, but to ask families: what are you doing about succession, how are you handling family relationships, what are some of the challenges?

So most family businesses fail. Most family businesses are facing the challenge of the next generation. Why is this happening, what is going on with the family business? There are two factors that come up over and over again. First of all, the family business, because it is a family and a business, tries to do family things in the business, eg, employ people; eg, be a place where people can all be together. And so they begin to make decisions about family reasons rather than about business reasons. And the second thing that happens in a family business that weakens it is that they don’t think about business renewal. They don’t look ahead to the future. They feel like: well, we’ve been successful and the family is run by the – usually the patriarch or the founder and they just assume that, if they continue to do what they do, it will be successful.

Family businesses are not just dealing with issues between family and business, they are also dealing with the question of ownership. And this is the complexity – these three circles show the three interlocking systems of a family business. Family is a family, their personal relationships, they care about each other, they are committed to each other, they are helping each other grow, develop – they are an economic unit. They are also engaged in a business and a business is not like a family. Business has to have accountability, business has to have results, business has to get certain things done and so family members who work in the business have a different set of responsibilities than they have as family members. It gets even more complicated because in a family business, the family owns the business and as they go through the generations there are some family members who are not working in the business and some family members who are. And the next generation grows up and the family, as a family, has a desire to share the business with all of the family members and, at the same time, it may be that only one or two of the family members are working in the business.

What does a family do about the issues of moving between ownership and management? How does a family deal with that? Those are the challenges. The second element of challenges in families is due to the nature of a family. Families, by their nature, as a unit growing up together are very private and very close and, in addition, because the people have been together a long time, they develop some bad habits and those habits are things like avoiding issues and not talking about things. So that, for example, it is very common for there to be awkward things in the family like, I am a parent and my children are working in the business and if you work in a business you are supposed to get your performance evaluated. I work with a group of next generation young people here and they are called the Youth A Team and they talked about family business. And I asked them – a number of them are working: how many of you have ever had a performance evaluation, eg, had feedback about how well you are doing? And it’s like people said: what, that doesn’t happen in our family. Why doesn’t it happen? Everybody in the family would agree that that is a good thing but it is awkward, it is difficult for parents to tell their children – to be critical, it is difficult of the next generation to take criticism and, basically, it is difficult to face issues.

So the issues in a family, for example, somebody working in the business is not doing a good job, somebody has a problem and the family is not talking about it. And so the family doesn’t talk about things and it takes time. So, for example, one family said: we have a problem that my son has worked in the business for 20 years and he is not doing very well and I don’t know how to tell him that he can’t be the successor. Well, wait a minute, what has he been doing for 20 years? So here is a family where, with good intentions, they have allowed their son to work there for 20 years because they want to take care of him but now, when he is in his 40s, they are finally facing up to the fact that he can’t continue to work in the business, the business is too complex and he doesn’t have the skills, but what is he going to do at age 40? And when he got the feedback from the family he was devastated because: why didn’t you tell me before, why didn’t you tell me when there was time for me to do something about it?

So the family has lots of challenges that are due to the connection between a family and business. Family businesses start up – people don’t come together with the idea: I’m going to start a family business and here is what I’m going to do and we’re going to create roles. It just starts randomly. So one family – the mother started a business at home and she needed help and her husband had lost his job and he seemed to have some skills, so she brought him in, making sure to – make it clear that she was the boss. And then they needed more help and their daughter who is graduating from school came into the business and then her husband – she was getting married and her husband seemed to have skills and these things just grow up. And what happens in a family is they just kind of do things because they are family and there are very, very unclear agreements so, for example, one family I knew, the father was very concerned that his – he told me his son didn’t have a good work ethic. And I asked him what – well, his son who is 22 years old would just punch in and punch out, would do his work but not a bit more, wasn’t looking for new responsibilities and extending his skills and the father was very concerned because he wanted the son to take over.

Well: have you talked about it? Well, no. Then I talked to the son and the son said: well, this is just a job for me, this is not my career, I’m just out of school, I’m paying off my truck, it’s easy for me to work here. And these cross-purposes are just fine except for the fact that the family was not talking about it. So people grow up in the family business and over time things happen and things are not talked about. One of the things that happens in the next stage of a family business is the kids work and they develop ideas that may be different than the family. For example, a lot of kids will work in the business for 10 or 15 years and they just assume – as one person said because of a conversation that took place at the dinner table when I was 8 years old – that they are going to inherit the business and that is that and they are working.

One person that I visited told the story – and this is an example of where family rules and business rules are different – he had been working in the business for 17 years and had been successful. He worked alongside his father. He had a brother who was off doing other things, earning a living, and after 17 years for some reason his brother talked to the father and decided that he would join the family business – they didn’t talk to the brother about this – and one day they said – father said to him: well, your son is coming into the business and he is going to be your equal partner. Oh. So to his credit he had a quick recovery and he said: well, that’s fine, that’s really good because I haven’t taken a vacation in a long time. Here are the keys, I’m leaving and I’ll be back in 17 years and then we can pursue our partnership.

Different expectations. The challenge of a family business is challenge of growth and innovation comes up in families. A number of family businesses talk to me about: I’m growing too quickly. The family – the business grows and they put on people and they spend more and more and they are people that really started the business and it grew in spite of them and all of a sudden they are not making any money and they have to cut back and they have to retrench and they have to develop business skills, so there is a learning process within family businesses and families have to kind of learn on the fly. The challenge of renewing a business is even more difficult in a family than in a traditional business.

Look at a family, here is a father – parents have run the business, they are to be respected, they really did something. The young generation can only, when they are working in the business, look at the business as something that their parents have started and that they are privileged to be part of – hopefully they see it that way – but the challenge is sometimes they have been to business school, they have worked in other businesses, they have had other experiences and they see other ways. For example, here is a business where the father is very clear that he wants it done this way. He wants to begin to get an income out of it, he doesn’t want to reinvest any money in the business, he feels like he has done enough and his son comes in and says: well, gee, we can do all these things. We’ve got to become consumer products, we’ve got to start going into the international market, we’ve got to export our things, we’ve got to do new packaging, we’ve got to invest a tremendous amount of money, and the son has all these ideas. How is a family going to deal with an issue like that between the father and a son? This was a dilemma.

The solution that this family had is that they hired and they brought in an advisory board of people that they all respected to come in and advise the business and help them deal with this, because this was something that they couldn’t deal with as a family. As the next generation begins to come in they begin to ask the question: what’s going to happen to the business? Where is this business going? Relationships in the family are very, very, challenging in the generations because fathers and sons and mothers and daughters are family members first and they treat each other as family members. Now, the challenge of holding each other accountable as business people is very difficult and it is made more complicated by the fact of other people in the family being involved as well.

So take a very simple act in a business. In a business its very simple, if you’re not measuring up and you’re not delivering the results that you should be doing for your job, you’re asked to leave – very easy. Now, what happens when that happens in a family. Here is an example. A brother and a sister were working together. The brother was doing some vague marketing jobs and mostly racing cars and doing promotions for the business and the daughter was really working and this was a consumer products company and helping the business develop. The father and the son always had the assumption – again from this dinner table conversation when he was 8 years old – that the business was going to be passed to his sister – to all the people working in the business to work together – so he assumed that his sister and he would be partners.

What happened is, it was perfectly reasonable and clear to everybody that the daughter was the one who was going to take over and the father met with her and met with the boy and said: you’re going to be the CEO. And she said: well, do I really have the authority? And he said: yes, that’s it. So the first thing that she did is, she fired her brother. A perfectly reasonable business move. What did the brother do next? This is where family business gets more complex than ordinary business. He immediately went to his mother and told her that she was in grave danger of never seeing her grandchildren again. So you can’t just make a business decision in a family business, it’s complex. The challenge in a family business is to manage the role between family and business and to do it in a way that people can actually understand that a father and son working in a business have two relationships and one is a business relationship and one is a family relationship.

For example, one person from a large family business, a grocery store, tells a story about his young son was working and did not have a good work ethic. He would come in late. He was supposedly a store manager, the people never saw him around and the father heard about this and said: well, I really have to deal with it. Give me his pay cheque and tell him when he finally comes in to come see me at home. So the son came in and was told to go and see his father at home and he thought that something good was going to happen, he was going get a promotion, or they were going to do something special, so he just comes in and shows up and the father said: let’s go in the hot tub, we have some things to talk about. So he says: as your boss you need to know that you have really not performed at all and you are not just a poor performer, but you are a terrible example to everybody else and as your boss, you’re fired.

Then he said: I put my arm around him and said, and as your father I’m terribly sorry to hear you lost your job. What can I do? So the challenge is for the family to learn how to do that, deal with that schizophrenia and to be able to say: we are family members here at home, but we are also in a business relationship. Another business where a mother had stepped in when her husband died and really ran the business very, very incredibly well, considering she had very little experience and her son – it was a winery and he was working in the fields – had worked for 10 years and really had saved the business and stepped in from his father, left college and worked in the field, but he and his mother had a terrible relationship because she would ask him: well, tell me, what are you growing? Are you growing pinot, you know, what kind of grapes, we’ve got to do a plan? And his response was: don’t tell me what to do. You can’t tell me what to do. Don’t ask me. And they can never get beyond a mother and son angry relationship to regard each other – for him to understand that she was the CEO.

So the challenge that family businesses are facing are the challenges of innovation, but also the challenges of what we call skill and will. The challenge of skill is to train and to develop the next generation with the capability, which means that the people in the next generation have to be prepared not to run the business the way it was, but to run the business that it could become and to develop the skills to develop the next stage of the business, which often with a successful business, means getting a business education, even if the parents didn’t have one. It means that a lot of families have come to the conclusion that it’s best for family members to work outside the business for a number of years and to develop experience outside, so that they can develop their own sense of self-confidence and the skills and the understanding of how a business runs.

Now, in South Australia it’s a little bit challenging because people are afraid that if their kids go out and find other things to do, they will never come back and the challenge is to understand that people in their 20s in a family business will go away – and that is a good thing – if they don’t go away they will never develop the skills for the next stage, but that the family then has to make the business attractive and begin to bring back, not the people that can’t do anything outside, or afraid to go outside, but to bring back and bring in the capable people that can make a difference. The second issue is the issue of will, of commitment.

How can the family business develop the next generation to want to care about the business – and this is about the - I was at a citrus grower – a fourth generation family – call a family agricultural business not – the best business to be in economically - and he was an incredibly talented fourth generation son, really knew a lot about agriculture, about growing, but also had learned about marketing and about global export business of fruit and had created a group to export – had industrialised their little farm to sort the fruit and get it ready for export and to meet all the requirements and he was staying there because he really cared about the business.

He was quite clear that he could make more money in another business, but this was what the family was all about and what was meaningful to him, so he had decided to stay. What I find in family businesses is the families that can develop this sense of mission and pass on this passion to the next generation are ones that can begin to attract and develop the next generation. The challenge, it’s not just an inside family challenge. The challenge of succession in a family business in South Australia is one of looking ahead to successes. It’s not hoping against hope and praying and keeping a place open for the next generation.

It’s really looking and saying: who is it that is going to run our business next, and beginning to think about this, not three years before you want to retire and move on but many, many years before when your children are young and when there is a chance to recruit and develop and bring in other people – non-family members – and any family that’s going to be successful has to be looking, not just inside the family, but to other families and other people as well, and they need to create a planning process and a dialogue process within the family about what they’re going to do, and that should include things like: do we want to sell the business? Is there a time to sell the business? What will it mean to the family if we do that? An internal family discussion process that begins to look ahead, not two or three years in the future, but five or six years when people in the family are young enough to really make a plan work.

The challenge of a family business is, in the end, that the size of the asset – it may be very successful, but as an asset and as a source of value it’s worth less than the family members usually think it should be worth, based on the amount of work and energy that they put into it. This is sad, but it’s also a challenge to the family that they can’t just be looking at the family business itself for their success. For example, the human capital of the family are the people in the family and if a family raises its family members, not just to go into one business, but to develop skills and capabilities in many different fields, then the many members of the family can all be contributing and developing on their own and not be dependent on the family business, so that a smaller family business can be given or passed on to one member of the family because it’s a smaller business, and the other members of the family can find themselves taken care of and can understand the reason for doing that.

Let me end by presenting a little bit of the thinking that I have in terms of what needs to be done? What can be done to support the next generation of family business? The first thing – and this is in a way an easy one and in a way a great challenge for families – is that families have to develop internal family discussions about these issues. They have to face difficult issues, they have to come together as a family and look at the resource and the future of the family in relation to not just the business, but everybody’s future. The future of all the people in the family. They need to talk directly. They need to make these dialogues, not just dinner table conversations, but direct discussions about the issues and the family. The issue of, who is going to inherit the business? The issue of, where is the business going? The issue of, who is working there? Of what is the expectations of other family members?

The challenges of reinventing a business? These need to be talked about with the family members – and they don’t necessarily need to get together and have one person, one vote. Everybody doesn’t vote in family business, but a family still needs to come together and talk. The next generation group that Matt presented last week had a number of suggestions and one of the suggestions that they made is that every family has to have clear agreements between the generations about the expectations for the family business, because there is so many ways that they can misunderstand each other. The second thing – and this is more of a community building thing – is that family business members by and large don’t know – they understand these issues are there, but they mostly think that they are the only one that has them and these are kind of either shameful, or things that you don’t talk about and so they don’t really know that so many other family businesses are having similar issues, and that there could be places where they can go to get resources, to learn, to get some advice, to meet other families, to talk about these issues that are not just business issues - to create a business plan and what to do with business growth and development - but also the family issues, about entering into the business, about succession, about family relationships and ownership and that they can go some place.

The two places that are here already that I found to be wonderful is, first of all, the Family Business Australia, South Australia Chapter. They have a resource centre, they have a small and very over-worked staff and a number of people who are sitting right here, who are volunteers, who are available to talk with families and they do a number of programs, like the Hall of Fame. They have forum groups where a group of about 10 family members that have some shared interest get together and make a commitment to meet. They help families find resources. They have a group of advisers that might be available to families and they are a resource centre that is used less frequently than it should be, because people just don’t know about it, so people need to be made aware of it.

Similarly, I had the privilege of visiting about nine of the business centre prize centres and community development boards in the different regions around the city and around the State. Again, they are general business places where businesses can go for advice and many of the people in these centres have been advising family businesses and have some skills for family business, and my suggestion is that these two institutions can be developed to offer better services and more clear services to families and families could know more about them. There are educational programs, there are courses, there are lectures like this, but the way in which families are most likely to learn and find useful knowledge is, when they are learning in a group of like minded other people.

Indeed, the problems that people are facing in family businesses tend to be so common and so universal that rather than offer advice to one family at a time, the forum groups, Family Business Australia, the groups that are starting – there are coaching groups that start in the Business Enterprise Centres. There are a number of groups where family business leaders get together and are able to talk about their challenges and these peer learning communities are one of the best ways to learn. My image of the community is, if you could create scores of these kinds of networks of families working together, that would be the best way to reach the thousands and thousands of family businesses in South Australia that are being challenged, rather than offering individual coaching and counselling for everybody.

Finally, there needs to be a number of services and resources and incentives to develop the next generation. We talked and met with some people who represented schools, and schools are a great opportunity because these thousands of family businesses have kids and the kids are in school and the easiest speakers to bring into the school are the parents of the kids to talk about family businesses, to deal with the fact that sometimes family businesses aren’t seen as sexy, or aren’t seen as real businesses, to really show people how creative and how interesting and how much of an opportunity a family business can be. To bring together possible successors from outside the family and to get them to be attracted to the idea that maybe working in a smaller business, or a growing family business might offer more opportunities than other opportunities that present some long term higher wages, but long term don’t present the possibilities that a family business has.

So developing and bringing together different networks in the next generation is one way that the marketplace of many, many families where the older generation wants to find an exit policy and move on to the next stage of their life - how are they going to do that? A noted US politician who may indeed become our next President, wrote a book and talked about: It Takes a Village to Educate a Child. One of the things that I have learned by being the Thinker in Residence here in South Australia is that the problems of family businesses are not just individual problems that should be solved person by person, that the idea that community groups coming together in learning different kinds of learning circles, of developing community-based resources, of making people aware, the ideas and the challenges of creating the next generation of family businesses are ones where I think the partners that I have grown to know and to work with in the last few weeks, are going to create in a partnership between business, education and Government, that is the group that brought me here. I’m not just working for the Government, I’m working for a group of partners that span those different spheres and I see the future and the opportunities and the resources in family business coming from that kind of a partnership.

So in order for there to be a next generation of family business there isn’t one single easy solution, it isn’t about the new set of Government incentives. There really is a whole way in which the community itself needs to be aware that family businesses are the backbone of commerce in the State and that all the different ways in which family and business can be positively brought together and made to fulfil their potential. Those are the opportunities that family businesses need to continue into the next generation. Thank you.

Additional information on the Adelaide Thinkers in Residence program with Dennis Jaffe may be found on the Thinkers web site.

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While the views presented by speakers within the Hawke Centre public program are their own and are not necessarily those of either the University of South Australia or The Hawke Centre, they are presented in the interest of open debate and discussion in the community and reflect our themes of: strengthening our democracy – valuing our cultural diversity – and building our future.

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