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“You Might Be Great at Running a Business; That Doesn’t Mean You’re Good at Managing a Family”

Peter Jaskiewicz

Professor Peter Jaskiewicz in conversation with the Ottawa Business Journal

Businesses are complex. So are families. Combine the two and the complexity not only doubles, but multiplies. The benefits, however, of mixing business and family can be exponential. Telfer Professor Peter Jaskiewicz laid these issues – and many more – out earlier this year during a conversation about family enterprise with the Ottawa Business Journal (OBJ).  

The first part of the conversation focuses on succession planning, which Jaskiewicz sees as crucially important for all business families. As Jaskiewicz mentions, many family businesses are very successful – and a key part of the Canadian and global economy – but aren’t necessarily successful at passing the business on to the next generation. According to Jaskiewicz, “You might be great at running a business; that doesn’t mean you’re good at managing a family or being able to work with your own kids.”

To further this issue, many family business advisors put their focus on talking to the senior generation instead of supporting the future leaders. As he notes in the interview, “[...] you always need two to tango. The next generation, they have a lot of options. Few of them want to return to the family business. Of those who return, few are properly prepared and know what they're getting into.”

To read the whole OBJ interview, visit here:  
Part 1 -

Part 2 - 

Jaskiewicz reflects on the how the Family Enterprise Legacy Institute (FELI) is working towards this end,  helping ease the transition of next generation leaders through three areas:

1) Creating a safe space by listening and building trust.

2) Doing cutting-edge research and creating best practices.

3) Passing on knowledge and insights through training and education.    

In part two of the article, Jaskiewicz speaks about his book, Enabling Next Generation Legacies, and how the project came to be. After speaking with over 100 business families, Jaskiewicz and co-author Sabine Rau recognized a serious gap in how the concerns and questions of the next generation weren’t being considered. Out of that realisation came 35 of the most pressing questions asked by next generation members (follow the links to read excerpts from the book, such as: Do I deserve the business and/or wealth I will inherit? or We have always had a fair deal of conflict in the family, should I do anything about it?

When asked about the fictional drama on HBO’s award-winning show Succession, Jaskiewicz explains that although he knows real-life situations where the same kind of conflict erupts, it’s definitely not always the norm. “There are also a lot of amazing families out there that make a tremendous difference over th e generations and centuries after many of their competitors have come and gone,” he says. 

As for a key piece of advice for anyone struggling with the complexities of being part of an enterprising family, Jaskiewicz cites communication as the most crucial element. “We see that the inability of people to really listen to each other or just the lack of interaction causes issues,” he says. “There’s no doubt that you need to have constant communication, and you need to have some trust. Without that, success is not possible.”

To learn more about how the Family Enterprise Legacy Institute is helping empower the next generation of family enterprise leaders, visit the FELI website and sign up for the newsletter

About the Author

En tant que gestionnaire principale, Katrina Barclay joue un rôle important dans la planification, l’organisation, l’exécution et l’amélioration continue des activités de l’Institut de l’héritage des entreprises familiales (FELI). <br/> <br/> As Executive Manager, Katrina Barclay plays a key role in the planning, organisation, execution and continuous improvement of all aspects of the Family Enterprise Legacy Institute (FELI).

Profile Photo of Katrina Barclay