Mastering the Family Constitution

The family constitution is perhaps the most critical challenge of strategic planning for the family business. It details the core values, vision and mission of the family business. It defines the governance structure of the family business with its roles, composition and powers. A well-developed family constitution can ensure strength, evolution and ultimately the family legacy.

As a living document, the family constitution itself must evolve as the family business and the operational environment evolves. Executive education designed especially for members of business-owning families can be an excellent way to learn to master the family constitution.

Optimize your family business

Family business dynamics: truly unique

Family businesses are all unique, but there are a few distinct features they have in common - and these features are those that distinguish them from other companies:

Family ConstitutionAll family members, even those not directly involved in the business, have an interest in the company’s success.

The focus is not solely on building a strong company: the business can reinforce family values and family bonds.

Over time, family businesses become more complex: generations expand the number of people involved, ownership may be split, diverging interests can lead to conflict, and succession is a multifaceted concern.

Family constitution: vital to the family business

Family ConstitutionThe family constitution, done well, is able to provide the strategies to rise to these challenges. Among the most important things the family constitution should cover are:

  • Family vision, mission and values
  • Strategic objectives
  • Roles of family institutions like the family council and family assembly
  • Authority, roles and responsibilities of the board of directors and senior management
  • Human resource policies for both family and non-family
  • Policies for employment and succession in family business

The leadership of a family business must be committed to maintaining the constitution as a living, growing contractual document, essential to the good governance of a family business. Good knowledge of strategic planning in general and the family constitution, in particular, is necessary for every family member in the leadership team.

Executive education: value to the family constitution

Family ConstitutionSome of the top business schools in the world offer leadership programs and services directly targeting the unique needs of family businesses. IMD, a top-ranked business school in Switzerland, is a good example. IMD has a long history of working with family businesses – in fact, it offers the world’s longest-running family business leadership program.

IMD family business leadership programs help business-owning families to master challenges like the family constitution by helping family members:

  • Understand the strategies and governance structures that contribute to strength and sustainability
  • Analyze the specific challenges and issues their family business faces to integrate strategies into the family constitution
  • Benchmark best practices

Explore case studies to see how the most successful family businesses in the world approach unique challenges like the family constitution.

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