The Family Business

Over the past few years, I’ve come across a few highly successful, ‘family businesses’
I am taking a little poetic license with the term ‘family’ as I mean a small close knit group of people who may or may not be related who have been working together as a team for a very long time.
There are some businesses (which might better be called corporations) that are huge and may have one or two family members at the ‘top’. Ford as it was springs to mind as an example, but these were never really ‘family’ run.
1n 1981 Meredith Belbin described from his research nine key roles in any team. This is pertinent here as those nine roles don’t need nine people but probably, as the roles are related to personality behaviours, need around 6 individuals – any fewer would inhibit functionality.
Besides the nine roles there are distinct business functions that need to be carried out and happen in parallel to the roles. The roles described are not specific to any of the functions.
These functions in any business are Operations (what the business does), Marketing, Finance and Compliance with ‘the rules’ that may or may not apply to the business.
There is also, on a larger scale, the ‘People’ function but in the ‘Family Business’ that is encompassed within the team dynamic.
The thing is, you and I are probably quite capable of performing all the functions that we need to operate our own Personal Businesses, as I outlined in my book ‘How to Create Your Own Personal Business’, but that’s going to limit our effectiveness both as a business and as an individual.
We should take account of the advice of Sir John Harvey Jones, late Chairman of the chemical giant ICI and famous as TV’s ‘The Troubleshooter’, – “Only ever do what only you can do” and this is where the family team is key.
You can ‘outsource’ some activities like accounting and marketing but the business functions better if these are kept in house and that’s where the well-structured ‘family business’ team has the edge.
I’m using the ‘Family Business’ here as an analogy and a continuation of the story of ‘what goes wrong’.
A successful Personal Business will naturally evolve into a ‘Family Business’ structure as I will describe in my forthcoming book. After that though, is where it starts to go ‘wrong’.
The temptation is to allow or cause the business to grow and grow, to create additional layers of management, to introduce a central command and control system and so on. This is deemed necessary when the business begins to employ more and more people to perform all the functions as they get bigger.
And the same thing happens with nations and societies inventing government machines to perform the functions required to ‘run the country’
But it doesn’t have to be like that, and it hasn’t always been like that.
We can disperse, decentralise, devolve and diversify creating a new ‘distributed’ culturescape where we operate on a ‘peer to peer’ basis.
We have the technology, mostly, which we didn’t have in the days before the first industrial revolution that started this whole thing off.
By ‘peer to peer’ operation I mean that instead of everything going ‘up to the centre’ and back ‘down to the people’ (notice how we’ve been trained to use up and down there), everything works person to person, business to business, group to group, tribe to tribe – without any need for central government power structures, whether that be corporate or national.
We can communicate direct using the internet.
We can transfer money direct using the blockchain
We don’t really need, do we, to go to the Supermarket or the shopping mall to buy our stuff. Go back to the family business ‘high street’ and get what we need direct from the local producer.
If we want stuff that isn’t produced locally, we can purchase it online and have it delivered
We can ‘work’ at home, we can teach our children at home.
We can decentralise health care and deliver it locally – like we used to.
This may sound like the ‘old days’ before things were centralised and became supposedly more efficient but it isn’t. I’m not suggesting a return to the past because that’s not where we’re going.
In the past we didn’t have the technology, systems or knowledge we have now and importantly we didn’t have the ability to communicate as we do now.
In the past those who craved power over others took advantage of this, keeping people in the dark as to the truth and alienating groups by telling them different things – the divide and rule strategy.
That of course is still going on with massive amounts of misinformation and disinformation (aka fake news) and misleading ‘facts’ flying about everywhere. Reality is being obscured to the advantage of one group or another.
There are some other issues though. The devolved culturescape is still ‘under construction’ and there are a lot of ‘details’ to be resolved.
You and I cannot venture into this new world tomorrow, but we can make a start. We can look at what’s involved and how we can sidestep those who seek to retain power over us.
The thing is that most of the technology we need is under central control.
The internet can be switched off, the blockchain can be switched off, ‘energy’ and fuel can be rationed and redistributed to the ‘centres’ only, and the pace of centralisation accelerated towards a dystopian future world of the likes of ‘Metropolis’ or ‘Things to Come’.
You and I and everyone else would be left out in the cold – ‘doing what we are told’.
Now some people like that, some people crave that, they want to be told what to do and how and when to do it, it gives structure and order and has been going on for millennia.
You and I need to make a stand.
We need to support ‘family businesses’ – groups of people working together, We need to manage how we use the internet, keeping it positive and disconnecting from the negative and we need to secure the blockchain by buying into digital money before it gets swallowed up by state financial institutions.
There is much more but the first thing we need to understand is what underpins everything and that’s where I’m going next time.