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UFB Issue #024 Nepotism
April 15, 2004

"The key to family business success"
ISSN 15465640

A free monthly e-zine with articles and tips from Family Business Experts who understand family values and business systems.

April 15, 2004 Issue #024 Family Business Experts

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In This Issue...

1. Our Managing Director Announces -

2. Business first family...Family first business

Nepotism - Interview with Adam Bellow

3. Legacy through Leadership

Updating Organizational Assumptions

4. Around the Family Business Experts web sites

1. Our Managing Director Announces -

Adam Bellow's new book In Praise of Nepotism... is a fascinating read and does a great job of showing that nepotism is not always the bad force it is made out to be. It has particular relevance for family businesses, since nepotism is one of the most frequent problems we face. I am particularly pleased with Adam's perspective because it reflects the "other side of the coin" and balances the usual viewpoint that "nepotism is bad and must not be part of the family business environment".

And we continue our Legacy through leadership series of tips based on the contribution of our internationally-recognized organizational expert Dr. Ken Mackenzie. This issue's tip deals with updating organizational assumptions - a critical step to keep planning consistent with goals and strategies.

Whether to contribute, challenge (or hopefully even praise) our newsletter, I encourage you to contact me directly Don, or our editor David.

Enjoy, and here's wishing you, your family, your clients... much success!

Don Schwerzler, Managing Director
Family Business Experts

2. Business first family...Family first business:

In Praise of Nepotism

Adam Bellow is editor-at-large for Doubleday and former director of the Free Press. He's also the author of a remarkable new book, In Praise of Nepotism: A Natural History, which in our opinion is a must-read for anyone in a family business. Or maybe we should just say it is a must-read, family business or not.

Yes, he's the son of the renowned novelist, Saul Bellow, but you can trust us when we say he's a danged good writer in his own right. For 20 years as an editor, Adam Bellow helped others develop their (often controversial) books before he authored Nepotism. As you would expect, the son of Saul received a great deal of media attention and more than a few reviews - some critical but most praising his effort. "What I've learned is that the reaction and criticism is often as interesting as the book," he laughs. We don't agree in this case, especially after reading the reviews. This is a very interesting book!

He introduces the concept of "new nepotism" - "New nepotism is not the same kind of nepotism that people generally think of. It's not the same as we have defined in years gone by. There are important differences. With the new nepotism, parents no longer pick up the phone and pull strings. Instead, it's the children themselves who decide this on their own and they find their own way to exploit those connections. "

The rest of the interview and the book itself are equally insightful.


You'll also find a link on that page to order the book online.

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3. Legacy through Leadership

Leadership Practice Tip #2


Updating Organizational Assumptions
is a key leadership practice

WHY? Updating Organizational Assumptions helps the leader to meet this responsibility:

The leader directs that each job is aligned to the strategic direction through task definition and reporting structure and ensures that the necessary tools are provided for the jobs to be performed successfully (HP2).

HOW? Updating organizational assumptions is the strategic process of discussing, updating, and acting upon changes to the organizational assumptions as the organization evolves. The process ensures that the consistency of the assumptions (about strategies, actual environments, the strategic direction, and the basis for organizing) is maintained. The organizational assumptions are the basis of how the organization arranges itself, therefore, they need to be reviewed and updated to maintain a good fit between how the organization is organized and what is needed to keep it succeeding.

EXPERT OPINION: Orit Gadiesh, Chairman of Bain & Company, defines a strategic principle as “a clear, memorable directive.” They are a means to “force trade-offs between competing resource demands; test strategic soundness of a particular action; and set clear boundaries within which employees must operate while granting them freedom to experiment within those constraints.” A strategic principle is a marvelous method of verifying organizational assumptions. (Leaders Talk Leadership, 2002, p. 106).

Dr. Ken Mackenzie is our internationally-recognized organizational expert. These leadership tips are excerpted from the e-book Legacy through Leadership he and Don Schwerzler collaborated on. Email:

4. Around the Family Business Experts web sites

Search the entire content site
in two different ways

1. A search engine powered by ATOMZ has indexed all the pages on the site and will link you to those relating to any search term you enter.

2. A 'Table of contents' listing that will link you directly to any page / article you select. Use the Site Map Navigation Button from any major page on the site.

Background information, testimonials to our service and understanding, and answers to FAQ's [Frequently Asked Questions]. Family Business Experts

There are new articles accessible from this page on the left side navigation bar.

Read our Nepotism interview with Adam Bellow

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