Get ready to pivot

How to be agile in family business


The ability to pivot to address threats and seize opportunities is the most defining characteristic of successful families.

No one can predict the future, but you can – and must – be change-ready. How?

1. Gain altitude, monitor signals of change and construct a view of the future.

Family enterprises need to formalize a process for scanning, tracking and filtering potential disruptors. They should also learn how to interpret that information to imagine and understand possible future scenarios, devising strategies that minimize probable risks and threats and maximizes opportunities and benefits.

2. Experiment with new ideas, business models and value-creation methods.

Experimentation is an approach that offers a fast, low-risk way to explore and test new opportunities. It can feel risky to do something with a high risk for failure but successful family enterprises learn a lot from intelligent failures.

3. Build agility into your family enterprise portfolio and organization.

Enterprising families’ financial stability supports portfolio agility by allowing owners to move into new activities without risking dividends or incurring significant debt or other financial risks. Building organizational agility, however, may prove more difficult. Agile organizations are flat, team-based and digitally connected. They have porous boundaries that invite in outside ideas and talents. Organizations may need to shift from an autocratic to a transformational style of leadership to create a more agile enterprise.

Your questions

An agile family enterprise can shift direction quickly in response to changing conditions.

Agile family businesses can address threats and seize opportunities as they arise, without losing sight of the family’s mission, values, and vision.

Practice and institutionalize strategic foresight.