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Family Meeting Agenda

January 11, 2011
By: Kevin Spafford, Farm Journal Columnist


First Family Meeting

Download this tool as a PDF.
(make any needed notes for each section)
 
I. Explain succession – from the meeting organizer’s point of view.
 
 
II. Who will be involved, and to what extent – Explain who will be involved in the process and the roles/responsibilities each person may assume.
---Discussion Topics may include:---
a. A thumbnail sketch of the operation.
b. Briefly explain the perfect transition and your ideal outcome.
c. How the family may act/react to the process.
d. Key employees, strategic alliance partners, others who may be directly affected by the long-term success or failure of your operation may be involved.
 
 
III. Who may be affected, and how – Reinforce the value of succession planning. Discuss the ‘transitional’ rather than the ‘transactional’ nature of the engagement.
---Discussion Topics may include:---
a. How many generations will be affected by the decisions you make and the actions you take in the succession planning process.
b. If a/the key player[s] (and each owner may be the key employee) were taken out of the picture today, what is plan ‘B’?
c. Who will step in to ensure management continuity until the next generation is ready and able to assume leadership responsibilities?
 
 
IV. Steps in the process and a planning model – The Comprehensive Succession Solution™ utilizes a six step process and a four part planning model (four elements: Ownership Transition, Financial Security, Leadership Development and Estate Tax Provisions).
---Discussion Topics may include:---
a. How should we proceed?
 
 
V. Follow-up/next steps – Explain expected work flow with special emphasis on the value of ‘two-way’ communication, accurate/complete records and responsibility.
 
 
VI. Common objectives – Entire family should help to define common objectives. Most family business owners can agree on goals related to:
1. Improving the operational integrity
2. Enhancing financial security
3. Preparing the next generation to lead
---Discussion Topics may include:---
a. Goals regarding the future of the operation.
b. Years until transition ownership?
c. Turning over the reins and relinquishing control.
d. Issues related to ownership transition, leadership development, financial security and/or estate tax provisions?
e. Your place in the industry, specific to resources---land, water, education, experience, labor, desire, finances, market, commodities---what are the growth/development opportunities for your operation?
 
 
VII. Obstacles – Common obstacles the family must work through may include:
1. Equal versus fair
2. Active versus inactive family
3. In-laws
4. Financial security
5. The unknown
---Questions/Discussion Topics---
a. The biggest threat to operational stability.
b. Adequate financial resources to weather the challenges of generational transition and fund a growing operation.
c. The value of an employment manual complete with wage/benefits statements, family employment policy, job descriptions, accountability and performance reviews?
d. The operating agreement.
 
 
VII. Hiccups/roadblocks/roller-coasters – Succession is not a linear course. It’s a dynamic process designed not only to ensure the family’s financial security, but also to become a transformational progression of the business from a single generation, owner-focused endeavor to a multigenerational, family focused enterprise.
---Discussion Topics may include:---
a. Discuss the fly-in-the-ointment, and who may get in the way.
b. Define a decision-making process.
c. Decide how conflict should be resolved.
d. Discuss equal versus fair.
e. Define an ‘equitable distribution’ of assets.
f. Decide who may become an owner---lineal descendants only, family members, active only, inactive, etc.
 
 
IX. Benefits of a Successful Engagement – Discuss the ‘transitional’ nature of the succession planning process. Succession is not something a family does; it’s something we become.
 
 
X. Breadth/depth of the engagement – A bit of detail regarding the planning process, advisors, questions/answers and the value in regular communication.
---Discussion Topics may include:---
a. Three measurable goals we’ll achieve that signify success, and say, “We made it, we did the job and accomplished the goals...”
 

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