In the Balance

By Lance Woodbury on August 25, 2017

The concept of balance applies to many areas of our lives. Work-life balance, as Davon discussed,
receives the most attention and is often a topic in our clients’ conversations about family business
succession. But consider a few other notions of balance and how they apply to you as an individual and in your family and business:

Individual Balance. Going beyond the dichotomy of “work” and “life,” Stewart Friedman writes about having a richer life by balancing work, home, community and self (mind, body and spirit). By designing experiments that meet goals in these four areas, you create “four-way wins” that can increase meaning and passion in your life, foster a stronger connection to your values, improve relationships and create impact in the community. Read Friedman if you are feeling stuck, isolated or as if something vital in your life is missing.

Ownership - Management balance. In business transitions between generations, ownership and
decision-making often move from fewer owner-leaders (e.g. Dad and Mom) to more owner-leaders (e.g. siblings or cousins). This requires shifting the balance of individual authority and group decision-making.  If there is too much individual power, you lose group interest or cohesion. If there are too many group decisions, or group decisions at the wrong level, paralysis and poor execution can result. This is where a family business Board of Directors can be helpful. The Balance Point by Cary Tutelman and Larry Hause offers a practical guide to achieving balance between ownership and management.

Generational Balance. Many agriculture businesses today lack management succession options due to the next generation’s leaving the farm or rural community. How is the talent pipeline in your business balanced between generations? My advice is to involve young people at an early age by letting them help in the office, ride around with you in the pickup, or sit in the conference room when you are making strategic business decisions. Expose them early to the range of decisions you face, to the excitement (and occasional fear!) that business ownership brings, and most important, to your passion for the family farm or ranch.

The concept of balance applies to just about every area of our life, and using it as a lens can help
improve our businesses and encourage our families.