by Leslie Dashew
In my many years of specializing in work with family businesses and families of wealth, I have found that the single most important indicator of success for these families is a shared vision. When a family shares a clearly articulated picture of the future, they have the foundation for making decisions about the use of resources, for selecting members to carry out responsibilities and for guidelines on how the family will function. When members of a family understand that they are all trying to achieve the same objectives and they recognize their interdependence, they take better care of their relationships. This process is especially important for families who share ownership of active or passive assets and/or when overall leadership is shared by more than one person.
What is a vision statement. Ernesto Poza in “Smart Growth” defined a vision for an organization in the following way: "...a vision is a clear, concise statement of what we want at some point in the future...it gives form and body to people's most cherished values and beliefs. Visions combine strategic objectives and ways of doing business that constitute the essence or 'heart' of the organization. Visions highlight important results, not the processes or means of achieving them."
Creating the statement of a shared vision is an exercise in thorough, open communication, exploration of assumptions, research and co-creation. The process may take a series of meetings in which members of the family have in depth dialogues about the future, their goals and dreams, the realities and assumptions about the business environment and come up with a clear statement of the future they are committed to work toward.
Creating a Vision Statement. The following are steps which can be taken in order to create a shared vision that I often use with my clients. You may find it interesting to try this exercise. However, a family must have a basis of trust, comfort with open communication and great respect for the diversity of opinions in the family in order to utilize this team by themselves.