Leave a Legacy
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.
Thankful for these Thoughts
Nov 24, 2009
This week we heard from a Midwest farmer who, prompted by Jeanne Bernick’s article “Staring Down Succession,” forwarded his own seasoned reflections about succession planning.
Bill, thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. As a professional specializing in succession planning, I have a bias toward the value of this process for America’s farm families. As a third generation farmer, you have the life experience to support your suggestions.
“The article describing the Windmanns’ situation was interesting and probably typical of agribusinesses these days.
I, along with my brother and sister, are the third generation on our family’s 108 year old cow calf operation. The suggestions for the Windmann family are all on target, and Kevin sure hit the high spots. I would like to suggest a few other possible areas for family dialogue:
- Control is a central issue in the succession process; it should be discussed early.
- Fair is not the issue, equitable is (fair is a subjective term; equitable is objective).
- There is a difference between maintaining the business and keeping the land.
- Planning is always good use of time.
- Using a professional coach/facilitator can be helpful.
- Schooling is good; a developed mentoring/intern program is better.
- Other courses, seminars and workshops may be helpful.
- Family meetings are okay; board meetings are better.
- An agenda is always helpful; good records and notes are important.
- Rotate administrative responsibilities regularly, every six months or year.
- Do not confuse administration with leadership.
- It is very difficult to separate the business from the family, so it is important to agree on which takes priority…
At 70 years old with 40+ years of business ownership, I’ve been involved with succession planning, leader development and operational growth/development. I’m not sure that makes me an expert; I’m just older than most…”
Thanks again, Bill, for sharing your wisdom with us.
Wishing you and yours (and all of our Farm Journal
reader families) a wonderful Thanksgiving!
To Guide Productive Family Discussions:
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