|Navigating these uncertain times |
IMD Annual Family Business Forum 2012 addresses how family businesses link short-term performance to long-term sustainability
February 20, 2012
"In today's environment of increasing change, family businesses can be more resistant, more adaptive and more sustainable than other organizations. But this is strictly a 'can be' proposition," stressed Joachim Schwass, IMD professor and director of the Global Family Business Center. He continued in his opening address to some 170 representatives of family businesses saying, "It is the responsibility of the family itself to understand the complexities, both external and inherent; to raise awareness regarding the challenges specific to its industry and to the family; and to clarify the role that the family plays in the business."
Now in its 5th year, the annual Family Business Forum gathers members of family businesses for two days of seminar and discussion around topics specific to family-owned enterprises and the unique complexities that they face, offering a mixture of IMD research, practical advice and personal experiences. This year's event involved participants from 35 different nationalities and focused on navigating family businesses through increasingly uncertain business, political, environmental and economic times.
Participants heard from IMD Professor Albrecht Enders and Research Fellow Andreas KÃ¶nig on discontinuous change and how family businesses can leverage their unique structure to prepare for, manage and overcome disruptive competitive forces. Using examples of incumbent market leaders and their misjudgements, Professor Enders and Dr. KÃ¶nig emphasized the importance of being timely, flexible, assertive and persistent.
Knowledge is the key to maintaining competitive edge, and companies must be trained to see the changes in their environment, they asserted.
IMD Professor and Director of the IMD Global Boards Center Didier Cossin addressed matters of corporate governance and the evermore important role that it plays in times of complexity and high risk.
Speaking of the epic failures of numerous CEOs and boards in recent years, Professor Cossin reminded participants that many of these failures were due to poorly measured risk and unpreparedness of corporate leaders in light of ever-increasing challenges.
"The world has never been so complex, so straining," he said. "In times such as these even the best individuals can fail."
IMD Professor BenoÃ®t Leleux presented the story of Firmenich, a highly-successful family business now in its fourth generation and the recipient of the 2011 IMD-Lombard Odier Global Family Business Award.
"The objective of the award is to identify and honor family-owned firms that have something to teach us with regards to business values, family values and succession excellence," Professor Leleux explained. "Firmenich's long-term vision, enduring creativity, and emphasis on family and business independence have led to strong business performance and a global reach to 64 countries."
Event guest speakers included Tony Gao Hao, director of executive education for the Tsinghua Alumni Association, who described the particularities of Chinese family businesses; and Alexander Scott, executive chairman of Sand Aire Ltd, who shared his personal story as a member of a family business.
Learn more about the Global Family Business Center
Learn more about IMD's open program for family businesses, Leading the Family Business (LFB)
Learn more about the Family Business Award
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