How do families and their advisers maximise the likelihood that talent will realise its potential and perform at the highest level in a family business or family office? 

This question continually challenges not only families but also organisations in sport and business as they look to support succession planning and deliver systemic success.

There is that well-known saying of clogs to clogs or shirt sleeves to shirt sleeves in three generations. The transition of success, wealth and continuous high-performance is so slim by the third generation and beyond, that over 90% fail.

So is it not the time to re-examine the model, update it, refresh it and learn from other high performers?

AH Loder Advisers, in conjunction with its sister company Peak Dynamics, have become world leading experts in this area. We have included in our transition framework the ground-breaking work of UK Sport, one of the top three UK Olympic sports - British Sailing and their team’s ‘What it takes to Transition Analysis’ and the personal expert knowledge and experience of the team in both business and elite sport.

British Sailing has shown how that their ‘transition pathway’ and their ‘what it takes to win’ strategy works. They have seen many generations of sailors develop to be the best in the world starting from scratch, such as Ben Ainslie and Giles Scott. They have seen Olympic rules change every four years forcing them to become a ‘first adopter’ or entrepreneurial in overcoming these hurdles. Then they have had to contend with different locations to compete in, under uncontrollable weather conditions. Yet they have consistently still outperformed against all their competition to be the one of the highest medal winning teams in the world.

The greatest challenge for successful families is the succession or transition process. Proven success in the past does not guarantee possible success in the future. It is vital for a framework pathway in place for the future talent development of the family and its executives.

We have brought together the best of sport and business transition development, along with our personal expertise to enable families and their organisations to design and implement an analysis of ‘super elite’ transitions in their field.

The 3 phases of a WIT³

  • Understand the patterns of transitions

Capture historical objective and subjective data from both successful and unsuccessful transitions within your own family business, those of your key competitors and world-leading individuals within your specific field.

This data set should include the chronology of progression, education (general and role specific), employment history before taking on a leadership role. The aim is to categorise the population - (talented individuals that failed to transition, effective transitions of talented individuals, average transition timeline, show and fast transitions)

  • Identify what has enabled or blocked transitions previously 

Having identified the key groups, we need to interrogate the dataset to determine consistent enablers and blockers. These may be education, environment or experience based. They may even relate to the timeline of exposure to leadership and the pressure of responsibility that brings. Tempering resilience through managed failure is something Elite sport is just beginning to get a handle on. The aim is to use this intelligence to help shape future development by shaping development plans to deliver present the right stimulus at the right time, manage exposure to failure and remove blockers.

  • Identify how to differentiate ‘Super Elite’ performers at key transition points

This is the group of outliers that may or may not exist.  In the sporting context, these would be the multiple Gold Medallist group.  UK Sport’s ground breaking ‘Great British Medallists’ study looked at a comparison of the psychological biographies of super elite athletes to build a detailed picture of what drives them and how their development experiences & environment differed from the normal Elite group.

A successful ‘what it takes to transition’ programme should enable Family Businesses to enhance their ability to identify and develop talent so that they increase the likelihood of future leaders delivering to their potential – placing the future of the family’s health and wealth in a safe pair of hands.