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Conversation Starters

March 12, 2010
By: Kevin Spafford, Farm Journal Columnist
 
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The success of a succession plan is strongly influenced by the quality and the quantity of communication within the family.

We recommend regular family meetings, scheduled at a time that is convenient for most participants. Use a location that is not ‘home turf' for anyone. Create and distribute an agenda in advance, encouraging each participant to offer modifications, suggestions and/or additional concerns. Establish ground rules – Robert's Rules of Order may be a little stiff, but mutual respect, common courtesy and banning personal attacks may help. Always conclude with some form of action and agreement for follow-up. 

When it's time to talk about succession, distributing the following ‘conversation starters' in advance may help each family member consider and then share their succession goals and aspirations.  


For each next generation family member to consider before the first succession planning discussion.
 
1. Are you interested in participating in the family operation? ( Yes / No )
 
Comment:___________________________________________________________________
 
If so, in what capacity? ____________________________________________________________________________
 

2. Are you prepared to assume that role/responsibility? ( Yes / No )
 
If no, what will it take to prepare for that role/responsibility? 
______________________________________________________________________________

 
 
3. Should family members not active in the operation attain/retain an ownership interest in the operation? ( Yes / No )
 
If no, how should family assets be distributed? _______________________________________________________________________________
 

 
4. If you want to be included in the operation, are you willing to personally invest in an ownership interest? ( Yes / No )
 
Comment:_______________________________________________________________________
 

 
5. What is your biggest question, or unanswered concern, regarding our succession intentions? ________________________________________________________________________________
 

 
6. Any other succession-related topics you would like to add to the agenda for our upcoming meeting?
_________________________________________________________________________________

 

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RELATED TOPICS: Communication Tool

 
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