The need for clear communication models in South African family-owned businesses was highlighted as one of the key measures to ensuring success beyond the first generation. These and other usable business tips were shared at ‘The Dynamics of Succession in Family-Owned Businesses’ conference, hosted by Vector Consulting, in partnership with the Congress of Business and Economics (CBE), at The Palm Continental Hotel, Johannesburg on Saturday, 7 March.
Through a series of scheduled talks, a panel discussion and an engaging question-and-answer session, attendees were given the tools to effectively evaluate their current business environment, reviewing whether their methodologies are creating value or not.
This year’s conference welcomed CEO of Vector Consulting, renowned businessman and author, Ahmed Seedat, who gave the opening address. Focusing on the need for communication in family-owned businesses, Seedat outlined how damaging miscommunication can be to daily business operations.
“Communication is the glue that holds any business together,” explained Seedat. “The concentration of that glue is vital to separate fact from fiction resulting in success or failure. This is no different for family-owned businesses where communication needs to be structured, precise and detailed to avoid derailing the mission and vision.”
He explained that, in the South African context, many second- and third-generation businesses did not have a clear communication model: “Most communication takes place over a meal or while commuting between home and business. When communication is not documented, there is a challenge.”
This year’s keynote speaker was professor Marius Ungerer, a professor at the University of Stellenbosch and co-author of the piece, ‘International Journal of Family Business and Management Studies’. During his talk, Ungerer reiterated how family-owned businesses struggle to survive through generations with emphasis on the unique South African context. Outlining his Family Business Success Map, Ungerer showcased how family business members, advisors, and managers are able to continuously benchmark their business practices in eight key areas to enhance the potential of the business across generations.
Joining this year’s speaker programme was Ml Bilal Jakhura, a contract specialist and MBA graduate from the University of Cape Town who provided important information on the best legal practices for any family-owned business. In his talk, he covered the ‘Three Circle Model’ which was developed by Renato Tagiuri and John Davis at the Harvard Business School in the 1970s. This model depicts the three stakeholders that make up this system – family, owners and business – and how the overlap of these various segments is integral to understanding conflict and challenges.
“It’s evident that family-owned businesses are vital to the performance of South Africa’s economy, and I believe that information-sharing conferences such as these will strengthen these structures, creating sustainable jobs and ensuring productivity for generations to come,” concluded Seedat.