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The Family Meeting

March 5, 2010
By: Kevin Spafford, Farm Journal Columnist

To Get the Family Thinking


Download this tool in PDF format.

Distribute "Conversation Starters” to all family members.

Sample explanation: "We'll be scheduling a family meeting soon to talk about how each of us may like to be involved in the future of our operation. Before then, please give some thought to these questions and make notes, so that we can have a productive conversation and begin to identify the next steps.”  


What are the specific and attainable objectives for a family meeting:


Who to include (active and inactive family members, loyal employees):

Distribute an Agenda

Point-by-point discussion items:
  • Ready for succession?
  • Equal isn't fair and fair isn't equal
  • Leadership for growth
  • Additional agenda items:
  • Thoughts, concerns, questions…
  Include Discussion Topics Suggested by Others
Establish Meeting Ground Rules
  • Involve all active family members.
  • Don't personalize issues. (No ‘us versus them')
  • Stick to the agenda. Don't re-hash old grievances.
  • Listen without judging. Hear each other out.
  • Seek common ground and mutual benefits.
  • End with an action plan detailing next steps, who's responsible and time frames.
Conclude with Follow-Up
Follow up to ensure:

Participation –

Accountability –
Commitment –




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