Peter Ivett is a founder of Vivente Australia and brings over thirty years experience in the key facets that strengthen the bond between people and performance to optimise business advantage. Peter has a broad range of leadership and management experience across a wide range of industry sectors. We asked Peter to share some valuable insights from working with family business clients, being an FBA Specialist Accredited Adviser and the Accreditation process. Read his full response below.  

We begin with understanding why the family wants to take a particular direction or course of action. Then, together with the family members, we  identify the opportunities, challenges, issues and barriers inhibiting the family and their business from achieving the outcomes they want.

This enables us to use the inputs from each family member to tailor a framework to shape culture, strategic direction and structure. We then work with the family members collectively and individually to enhance their skills, manage the change and, most importantly, facilitate those important and sometimes difficult conversations that are required between family members.

I was asked to share an “ah ha” moment from working with a wide cross section of family businesses clients over the last decade, the one “stand out” for me is people underestimating the impact of change. By way of example, we were contacted by a family business that was experiencing high levels of resistance by family and other team members to what was described as a simple change. The change was to replace a core manual system with an automated system and associated processes.  The family’s “ah ha” was when it comes to change, no matter how big or small, there is a direct correlation between business size and the impact of change –  the smaller the business the more the impact of the change is amplified throughout the business.  This business did what many family businesses do which is to place a strong emphasis on the change event.  Change events are those things that are visible, tangible, and happen relatively quickly if well planned, implemented and managed e.g. process changes, change of structure, and change of location.

What does not receive enough attention is the actual change transition, the process through which people at every level come to terms with change as they let go of the certainty of way things used to be and reorient themselves to the way things are now and eventually going to be. Change transition means helping people by making the change less painful and disruptive. It is an on-going process that can take weeks or months depending upon how much emphasis is placed on planning, organising and leading the change transition. When we shifted the focus by placing greater emphasis on helping people with the transitional challenges resistance decreased.  It is worth remembering people own what they help create.

Being a specialist accredited adviser is not without its challenges.  Those that immediately come to mind are time, complexity and family dynamics. Time because, in the 24/7 environment in which we now live and work, it is difficult to have businesses slow down long enough to critically think about and agree the outcomes they want. My second challenge is the complexity of family businesses because there are two conflicting systems always at play, the family system and business system.  It requires patience, persistence and resilience to work with family members to enable them to understand how these two systems interact in order to develop a journey map that allows them to reach an agreed future point. My final challenge is family dynamics, more often than not things are not always as they may appear within a family. Often things will surface that family members did not see coming which as an adviser I have to work with them to resolve so they can move forward.

Business opportunities for our own family business, Viventé Australia, come from a variety of sources all of which are equally important; they include referrals from existing clients to other family businesses, referrals from other accredited advisers, invitations to make key note addresses within the FBA as well as outside the FBA to bodies such as the International Coaching Federation. The adviser network is particularly important because as I mentioned earlier, the complexity of family business makes you realise very quickly there is no one accredited adviser that can meet the diverse needs of a family business. Collaboration is key, because it’s important you understand the specialist knowledge, skill and experience your fellow advisers can bring to the table when needed.

In thinking about becoming an accredited adviser I am reminded of something Benjamin Franklin said “you may delay, but time will not, and lost time is never found again.” It’s simple – you need to commit and get involved. If you do that and I encourage you to, through the accreditation process you will take your knowledge and skill to another level not only adding breadth to your understanding of family business, you will deepen understanding enabling you to add greater value to the families you advise and to your own business.

Accreditation is the start of learning journey that has no end. Also, accreditation offers the opportunity to begin building a network of fellow accredited advisers that I am sure you will need to call on at some time. A year from now I don’t want you to be in a position of wishing that you had started today.