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Leave a Legacy

RSS By: Kevin Spafford, Legacy Project

Kevin Spafford is Farm Journal’s succession planning expert for the Farm Journal Legacy Project.  He hosts the nationally-televised ‘Leave a Legacy’ TV, facilitates an ongoing series of workshops for farm families across the U.S., and is the author of Legacy by Design: Succession Planning for Agribusiness Owners.

Every Family's Conundrum

Feb 23, 2010

From Legacy Moment eNewsletter (February 19, 2010)

Please join us for future issues, delivered via email each Friday.

Fair versus equal is a recurring theme. It affects everything, and solutions are unique to each family. My next Leave a Legacy column in Farm Journal will again address this issue. In response to a reader’s question, I said this:

Q. You say equal isn’t fair and fair isn’t equal. Can you provide a specific example?

A. The nature of life is neither equal nor fair. Trying to alter that premise using ownership distributions may result in a complete loss of the family operation. The equal versus fair conundrum creates havoc in 100% of our succession planning cases…

While this polite reader thanked me for the commentary; I clearly missed the mark. He went on…

"Thanks for this extra commentary. I appreciate receiving it. It does not quite do what I am looking for, which I think may be a search for an objective way to measure fairness."

So, the real question remains. Is it possible to find a more equitable solution to the "fair versus equal conundrum?" Are there specific factors which can/should be taken into consideration when reviewing the contribution of each child in the operation, such as:

Tenure – The length of service an active family member may have dedicated to the operation.

Performance – A measure of the job performance of each person in the operation.

Professional development – Recognition of and reward for a person who enhances job capabilities through education, experience or vocational training.

Skills and abilities – Appropriate compensation for those who have developed a valuable specialization.

Please refer to the "Fair Versus Equal Exercise." Does it help to categorize and then quantify the contributions of each active family member?

 More on Equal versus Fair:

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