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Ensure Successful Sibling Partnerships: Three Dimensions

As we've reported many times, nearly half of all family firms are considering passing ownership and leadership to two or more siblings. The planning necessary to help assure success is both important and complex. The following framework can be helpful in that planning.

Effective planning has three dimensions: motivational, structural and relational. While most families only focus on the structural issues how the siblings relate to each other in the company - our experience shows that the relational (how do we get along) and the motivational (why are we doing this) dimensions are equally critical. To assure success, sibling teams should thoroughly address each topic under each planning dimension.


  • Roles in the company, balancing autonomy and interdependence.
  • Work standards, emphasizing what to expect in hours, time off, dress, etc.
  • Compensation and incentives * Dispute resolution process
  • Buy sell agreement * Individual growth, development, training and career path expectations


  • Code of behavior or conduct
  • Interpersonal skills building
  • Time together


  • Family mission
  • Philosophy of management and ownership
  • Values
  • Strategy which rationalizes family unity



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