'Challenges in running a Family Managed Business'

 | June 11,2012 10:34 am IST

 You can improve your operations in existing business without additional financial investments in spite of these turbulent times , Prof Dr. Uday Salunkhe, Group Director, WeSchool shares the Mantra of managing the challenges of running a family managed business and why scions of these families need to undergo professional courses to polish their business acumen.




1. What are some of the leadership challenges faced in an attempt to successfully run the business?
In this era of accelerated globalization and liberalization, 80 %of worlds business is still controlled by families. The history of Indian industries show that the Chettiars, Aggarwals, Jains and Parsis grew from being moneylenders and traders to manufacturers to contribute to Indias growth story and form the highly complex web of Indian corporate world of present times .In this highly volatile scenario, the biggest leadership challenge is to understand the customer thoroughly, especially in the rapidly changing times and orient the business to the customer. As Gandhiji had said, customer is the very essence of the business - something often forgotten in the shareholder and stock market oriented world.


Another key challenge is in making a smooth transition across generations and siblings in the business. This is the biggest pitfall for family managed businesses. Apart from this, the businessperson needs to understand the changing environment, as well as lead employees, vendors, and deal with external agencies. This is very important because the strength of a company is at most equal to the strength of its employees and vendors. These leadership requirements are rather different from those faced by the typical MBA.


2. What are the tactics taught at WeSchool that help overcome aforementioned challenges?

In the Family Managed Business (FMB) program we adopt an approach, not commonly found in other business schools. Since FMB participants have a running business each, we focus first on improving the operations in the existing business, without financial investments. We show how quality, productivity, and delivery can be improved, while reducing lead time and lowering costs with zero additional investment. Many of the techniques were learned from Japan and have been adapted to local conditions. The techniques are so powerful, that participants have reported significant improvement within the first month of commencement of the program.

In parallel, we start a journey of self discovery. Ultimately, everything starts from the mind. Participants go through workshops on understanding themselves first, and then extending the understanding to dealings with other people. There is a heavy reliance on principles of Psychology and Sociology. Personality and behavioral testing is deployed to show them where they stand; they are also exposed to extremely powerful techniques, such as Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, which can help them change their thought processes. Once the individual develops the ability to bring a change in herself or him, the road opens up to unlimited success.

Opening of the mind improves relationships with other family members, especially across generations. We also give specific inputs on preventing and resolving conflicts in the business family. One participant reported dramatic improvement in relationship with father within three months of commencement of the program. These are the unique features which distinguish it from normal MBA or FMB programs

3. Could you elaborate on the content of FMB and its pedagogy?

Of course, inputs on various subjects are given over the two years. The pattern is that the first year is devoted to strengthening the existing business and understanding the self and the business environment; while inputs in the second year are directed towards to growth, expansion, diversification, and reaching the sky!

WeSchool follows the AAA approach which is central to all our courses offered, pioneered by our Group Director, Dr Uday Salunkhe. AAA stands for Acquisition, Application, and Assimilation of knowledge. Most educational courses focus on only acquisition. In the FMB course, we reserve fifty percent of the course credits for application. And we check on the assimilation through frequent feedback. The AAA approach, which we follow in FMB, garners quick and lasting results, while opening the thought processes to innovation - something essential for moving further.

4. How does studying the subject benefit the student and help them to perform better at a family run business?

Using our WeSchool teaching, the students are able to show immediate improvement in their business. If they are first generation businesspersons (they started the business), it gives them great relief and confidence to see their existing business showing improved performance. Their time gets freed for better understanding the environment, developing deeper relations with customers, and finding more and different customers.

For second or later generation youngsters, our approach is a winner. Within the first few months, the young participants are able to show improvement in existing business; simply by making small changes which give big results (the Japanese call it kaizen). This causes the elder generation to develop confidence in the youngsters; relationships get set on a more cordial note and it becomes easy for the youngster to get assimilated in the heart of the business. Perhaps, this is one of the strongest points of our program.


5. What would you say is the USP of the program?
The FMB program offered at WeSchool is not a typical MBA program. The typical MBA is aimed at creating an employee; our course creates an employer.