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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.

Simple and Effective

Jul 23, 2012


iStock Farmhouse   compressedFrom Legacy Moment (07/20/2012).
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Benjamin Franklin had a simple if not excellent method for making decisions. He used a "T" bar to compare and contrast the pros and cons of any decision. Whether you label him a statesman, founding father, inventor, printer, or publisher, he was a genius. His depth of pragmatic understanding is evident in everything he accomplished. As Americans, we’re the living beneficiaries of his legacy.
Albert Einstein said everything should be as simple as possible, but no simpler. Franklin’s "T" to articulate the advantages and disadvantages of a particular decision certainly fits the bill. Try it the next time you’re faced with a tough choice and indecision seems to rule the day. Literally draw a "T" on a sheet of paper, with "Pros" and "Cons" on either side of the page. Then, allowing your mind to simmer on the question, begin listing each pro or con that comes to mind.
After you’ve compiled the list, Franklin recommends you go with the alternative that has the most entries. If advantage outweighs disadvantage, your path is clear—go for it. If disadvantage outweighs advantage—decline it. In the following example, I’ve used Franklin’s decision-making model to decide if a person should engage in the succession planning process.
Engaging in succession planning: 
Pros Cons
Control the outcome Pay a planning fee
Include family in the decisions Loss of privacy
Allow next generation to prepare Limit options/ability to change course
Plan for the future Upset family harmony/cause conflict

Eliminate estate tax/transfer  

Disagreements about the recommendations/results
Save money and wealth  
Pass along family values/farming wisdom/ valuable experiences
Leave a lasting legacy

News & Resources for You:

As you begin to consider succession planning objectives, these 20 statements may help you identify your key priorities and potential first steps.
"Shared vision," "common values," and more: Read Danny Klinefelter’s thoughts on Strategic Management and Planning.
Does innovation breed growth? Here’s how one family has answered that question. 


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