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From Confusion to Clarity

A Framework for a Sustainable Family Enterprise

Decisions facing family businesses can be monumental with implications stretching far beyond the business itself. Seemingly impossible questions arise like, “Who should lead the business one day, my not-yet-experienced son or a trusted non-family executive?” This is a question that can destroy families and family businesses alike. Looking at your family business within the context of a structured Mountain-Scape creates clarity, distinction, and order.

A successful family business is comprised of 5 MOUNTAIN® teams: the Family Team, the Shareholder Team, the Board Team, the Management Team, and the Advisor Team. Separating your family enterprise into clear teams and structures allows for clear boundaries and streamlined decision-making processes in your whole system. The family business paths are therefore a journey up and through a set of distinct Mountain Teams, each contributing to the overall success of your family enterprise.

While family enterprises may begin small and close-to-home, it is important that the business evolve to more elevated and refined structures. This is where the 5 MOUNTAIN® Teams become so integral to a successful operation. The teams are interdependent and work together with clarity, competency, and confidence. Arguably the most integral aspect along the 5 MOUNTAIN® journey is the investment of time and money in the continuous development of each mountain team, as well as each team member.  

  • The Family Team is the foundation of every successful family enterprise. Building family muscle requires nurturing healthy relationships, communication, and decision-making. Within this team, healthy boundaries and expectations between each Mountain Team are clarified.
  • The Shareholder Team holds primary stewardship responsibility and fiduciary control for the other Mountain Teams. Shareholders speak with one voice about their values and vision for the company through a written Shareholder Covenant.
  • The Board Team translates the Shareholders’ desired outcomes into business performance. The Board selects, nurtures, supervises, and terminates, if necessary, the President/CEO.
  • The Management Team – led by the President/CEO – is responsible for developing strategy, strong teams, and accountability to deliver performance goals set by the Board of Directors. Management develops efficient systems consistent with the purpose, vision, and values developed by Shareholders.
  • The Advisor Team is a group of professional advisors from various disciplines who provide extensive experience and expertise to the ongoing challenges of family business management, governance, and inter-generational transitions. Advisors provide education (mentoring) and counsel to the rising generation as they develop transition proposals.

Our 5 MOUNTAIN® Process offers a robust framework and paths for family businesses to thrive amidst complex decision-making processes and evolving dynamics. Families can foster unity, clarity, and resilience across generations by recognizing and honoring the distinct roles and responsibilities of each Mountain Team.

Embracing the 5 MOUNTAIN® model elevates organizational structure in the system, as well as strengthens familial bonds. With a shared vision, effective governance, and strategic leadership, families can navigate challenges with agility and purpose, paving the way for enduring success and a legacy that transcends generations. 

Let our experienced guides at DVFBC get you started and walk with you every step of the way. 

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