Below is the preamble from the Scott family’s Constitution. The family and its businesses are located in Wyoming and Montana.
Like a river, a family flows across time. Believing a family begins with a mother and a father is like believing a river begins when it comes around the bend into one’s view. An immediate family is only a segment of a small tributary in a more complex human river. It is our immediate family where we naturally focus. But even it is fluid and changes, over time. Some of the forces of change, like gravity, are predictable. Others, unexpected love or grief, are not.
A family is a community in a world where connectedness is increasingly difficult to find. Today we are more mobile and less bound to a place. We are less tied to a lifelong career, less tied to a shared religion or congregation. Family is one place where common blood, experience, joy and values can provide the bond that satisfies our need for community.
A family is a rich environment for successful enterprise. Entrepreneurial and visionary founders can pass on their vision, expertise, and capital to future generations. Healthy family cultures can be successful business cultures. Family teams can be enterprise teams. The long-term nature of family provides patient capital. Family supportiveness can allow businesses to survive tough times.
As positive as family can be for spiritual, social and financial well being, centrifugal forces seem to pull families apart. Only a fraction of family businesses survive past the second generation. And anecdotal evidence suggests that families can become more disconnected or conflicted rather than more cohesive over time.
For our purpose, the Scott Family “comes around the bend” with the marriage of Homer Scott and Mildred Sandall. The founding couple shared a deep love and respect for each other and a set of core values that guided them through life. They were unusually successful, by any measure. The five children who make up the second generation, while separated by years and with diverse personalities, share the experiences of common parents and the immersion in their values. They also share the experience of working together in the family enterprises. Over the years the second generation has learned to live and work together, to respect each other’s strengths, and to forgive each other’s weaknesses.
There is much work and joy to share. The process of building family is never complete. Like the river, a family’s journey is a cycle, always beginning, always flowing.