Does “Consensus” Really Mean “Unanimous” in a Family Business?

How do you, in your family business, make key decisions? Do you base these change decisions on “Consensus” from the entire family because you don’t want to upset family unity? You may be setting the stage for trouble because consensus really means “UNANIMOUS”.
Listen to Wayne this week as he reviews a great article from Arianna Campbell of Boomer Consulting – “Everyone DOES NOT Have to Buy In!”, to explain what should family businesses do when faced with group decisions and an almost inevitable absence of unanimous agreement.
We’d love to hear your comments and opinion.

Please click here to download the transcript.

  1. The need for change reminds me of the old baseball pitcher Satchel Paige who was supposed to have said “Don’t look back because they’re catching up on you”. I have set up an Executive Group of 3 people (2 from the family and one outside partner) who will make the decisions when I am no longer active. So it takes two votes for change. Right now I use persuasion (as opposed to power) to sell the family members to get on board.
    I have never wasted any time watching your blogs. I feel guilty that I am getting all of this wisdom free.

    • Sounds like you’re way ahead of us, James. Thanks for your kind comments!

  2. Great stuff as always, Wayne! We have always taken the approach that the majority rules on decisions in our family business and yet I when I speak to families who say they “never leave anyone behind” and always proceed only through unanimous decisions, I have felt perhaps we are somewhat of a less cohesive, less compassionate family. The odd man out feeling isn’t great (I’ve been there on one tough decision) but we respect the process. You (and Arianna) have boosted my confidence and conviction on this one. Thanks.

    • You’re welcome, Chris!

  3. Would love to hear how family businesses have taken on strategic partners by selling share/stakes (up to 50%) in their family business. Also, some of the risks that come with being a partner with an outside company, that is much larger.

  4. Wayne, great points, and a great article from Arianna Campbell. Consensus does not mean unanimous.

    • Thanks, Ted!

  5. My experience with change is that owner wants to implement new technology but then once it is acquired we don’t get around to using it so you have a new “boat anchor” so to speak. So plan to implement change has to be in place when change is made.
    Great blog topic.

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