Continuous improvement for boards: 7 best practices for family offices

Transitioning generations is a constant in family businesses, albeit at varying intensities. Leadership and ownership transfers often catalyse changes within the advisory board. In practice, many family businesses experience the added risk of a "retirement wave" among non-family advisors on the board or within key suppliers during generational transitions. Simple Expert Christian Schiede discusses seven best practices for continuous improvement in family office advisory boards.

What you need to know

  • Boards should have the flexibility to switch between advisory and control roles, with a focus on the company’s long-term survival and effective management of transitions and disputes.
  • During ownership changes, encourage open and proactive discussions on controversial topics and conflicts to align the board’s culture and competencies with the family business’s future viability.
  • Set clear rules and update them regularly. Demand specific contributions from all board members, whether family or not. Ensure diversity in expertise and viewpoints to drive strategic direction towards long-term goals.

Governance Updated on May 13, 2024

Shareholders are responsible for the quality of results and should, therefore, decide on investments in continuous improvement initiatives on the board. As advisory boards become more of a rule than an exception, their continuous improvement becomes a key capability for competent family shareholders. Below are seven best practices every family office board should follow for operational excellence:

Re-evaluate board-design

The provision of advisory boards with directive and decision-making powers determines whether they are relatively weak advisory bodies or strong control bodies endowed with robust mandates. Smart boards have emergency mechanisms in place that enable a switch between both types with the associated rights and duties. With the transition between an advisory and a control body, alongside other role requirements, a different temporal perspective comes to the fore. In the control body,  short-term survival is the focus.

About the Authors

Christian Schiede

Christian Schiede

Entrepreneurship & ownership strategy

Christian Schiede draws on 15+ years of experience working with 'hidden-champions', the larger German family businesses, and advises entrepreneurial families.

Connect with Christian Schiede

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