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UFB Issue #028 Organizing Organizations
September 24, 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.

September 24, 2004 Issue #029 Family Business Experts

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In This Issue...

1. Our Managing Director Announces -

2. Business first family...Family first business

Interview with FamilyLore Game developer Bob McClure

3. Legacy through Leadership

LP06. Linking the Organizational Rewards to Performance

4. Around the Family Business Experts web sites

1. Our Managing Director Announces -


In almost 40 years of working with family business entrepreneurs and family-owned businesses, one of the features shared by many is what I refer to as the "Serendipity Factor". Way back when... there was something that happened, not planned, that caused a BFO (Blinding Flash of the Obvious) moment! And a new business process or service was launched!

I had a serendipity experience about 3 three months ago. While surfing on the Internet, researching some information about family limited partnerships, I accidentally landed on a site that was selling a board game designed specifically for families.

I continued with my research but something caused me to go back to the site. Of course I could not remember what the name of the game was so it took me awhile to try and backtrack to find the site.

Finally I did locate it and this time I really read the information, not just a fast skim-read as I had done on my first visit.

Bob McClure was the inventor of the game - and along the way he has received a great deal of help from his wife Sally and their kids.

The game was invented when Bob and Sally were teaching school, had small children and were facing Christmas and a near empty bank account. To make a long story short, the family decided to make their Christmas presents that year rather than run up their credit card bill.

Through the years, Bob and Sally have perfected the game and now a board game company manufactures it and the game looks great.

What makes the game so special is that each family creates their own unique version of the game. This is done by having the family create questions about the family. There are 20 categories of questions that engage the family and the family's history - some serious, some funny - some that merely provoke more memories and stories! It's like being at a family reunion where one story leads to another!

Bob and Sally live in western NY. After several e-mails and phone calls, we decided to meet. Bob and Sally turned out to be as wonderful as their story!

But I digress from where I started. When I met Bob and Sally for the first time and they were recalling for me about how their board game got started and how it evolved, Bob said something that provoked a strange sense of connection. When he was first creating the categories, he was trying to think of a category that could contain miscellaneous information - he called it SERENDIPITY!

We continue with the Leadership Practices series, since these practices are the foundation for the processes that must be in place in order to achieve success.

Reminder: We've developed a couple of quick diagnostic assessments to help you. They are both fr*ee [at least for a while] and we try to deliver 48 hour turnaround of our analysis. Try them!

The Holonomic Top Down Assessment asks you about a combination of the 12 Main Enabling Processes that an effective organization has to have operating in order to achieve the 6 Desired Organizational Characteristics of effective organizations. Where your assessment indicates one or more of these are not working in your organization, we'll feed back suggestions as to the underlying Leadership Practices that might not be working.

Take our fr*ee Holonomic Top Down Assessment to see what underlying practices might be at fault and causing problem symptoms in your family business .

Diagnosing from the other direction - Bottom-Up - we ask you to identify which of 29 Leadership Practices aren't present or working. From that, we point you to Enabling Processes and thus Desired Characteristics that probably aren't functioning.

Take our fr*ee assessment on the 29 Leadership Practices to see how they affect your family business.

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:

Bob McClure, Developer of FamilyLore Game
Interviewed by Don Greenhouse

DON: I've played FamilyLore Game several times with family and friends and love it. I want to know more about the ideas behind it.

BOB: To help people remember their family stories, tell them, and have a good time. That’s what the game is all about. I hope that it reminds players that they have a history that impacts their lives -- their character, their relationships, their work. My new motto for the game is often hilarious, always meaningful.

DON: That seems pretty heavy for a board game that is simple to play and so much fun.

BOB: Well, I have this unusual point of view: people laugh and joke, and tell stories – and, at the same time, still talk about important matters. Take two questions from the game – “If your Mom had been a famous actress, what roles would she have played?” and “What kind of work would your ancestors have done?” I've heard people answer the first by saying, “My Mom would have been Lucille Ball, and she would have played every comic role out there. Wonder if that’s what made her so much fun to talk with?” Or, “My great-grandpa had a dry goods store in a farming community – I wonder if that has anything to do with me being in retail? Never thought of that!”

DON: That little dry goods store must have been long before the retail giants. Where did you get the ideas for all those questions – how many are there in the game?

BOB: Those questions came from life experience – my wife Sally and I brain stormed for over a year to find questions in the 20 themes that make up the game. There are 300 question cards, plus 300 more cards that encourage players to personalize the game.

DON: Remind me of the themes.

BOB The themes are “the stuff of everyday life,” and range alphabetically from Ancestors to Wheels; In between: Pets, Homes, Names, Birth Stories, Religion, Friends, Vacations, Schools, Food, etc.

DON: Who plays? How many?

BOB: Seven year olds to seniors play FamilyLore Game. I've seen pre-readers get involved if there are folks at the table who help them along. It’s great when the game is played by cross-generations because then there are different takes on different stories, events, anecdotes. Parents and grandparents can learn a lot from youngsters and visa versa.

DON: Readers would be interested in how the game plays.

BOB: Prior to beginning, players select a Matriarch or Patriarch, a person who keeps the game going and very occasionally settles disputes.

DON: Is that the oldest player?

BOB: No, not always. It’s someone who knows the family and their friends, who enjoys the group’s confidence, and who can keep the action moving. Often, this person plays less and less of a leadership role as play progresses and the players themselves assume more responsibility. Let me throw in here a semi-related comment: This is not a real competitive game. (But, get an 8-year-old boy involved and it sometimes gets very competitive!) Players often help each other in answering questions or creating new ones.

DON: OK, what happens after the Matriarch or Patriarch is selected?

BOB: The board is opened and set up with a Player Piece for each person at the Start Space. Each payer throws the die and moves his/her Player Piece the indicated number of spaces. For example, if the player throws a 2, his piece would be put on the second space, labeled Wheels. The next player might throw a 4 and that piece would be placed on the appropriate space, in this case, Schools.

DON: By the way, the board and the cards are gorgeous! How many can play?

BOB: Up to 10 but I really like it best when the number is smaller – say, 6 or 8. But 10 works great at a family reunion or around the table at Thanksgiving when there is a crowd of people. Then, you have people who are not actually playing but around the edges adding their 2 cents worth.

DON: So, each player’s piece on a Theme Space as a result of throwing the die. Now what happens?

BOB: The player to the right of the Matriarch or Patriarch draws a Story Card for that theme. So, the player on Wheels draws a card that asks the question, “Did your family ever have a nick name for a vehicle? If so, what?” The answer might be, “LEMON! That was the new car my Dad bought and everything went wrong. I think a wheel even fell off! Anyway, he was so bummed by his experience that he wrote a letter to the president of the car company in Detroit, who turned out to be Robert McNamara, soon to be Secretary of Defense in the Kennedy administration, and got this great letter back. Nothing ever happened to fix the car, though, but the letter was a doozzie and got framed and displayed during the Kennedy years.

DON: After giving a correct answer, the player moves forward. But how many spaces? The answer on the card for that question says the reward is 5 spaces but I've seen people be award more moves. How does that happen?

BOB: The directions say that the game is about encouraging the telling of stories, ones that go beyond simple facts. In the case of the example, if I were the Patriarch or a member of the group, I'd say, “take 3 more spaces because it was a really good response.”

DON: And so, players continue to move forward around the board, answering questions about the theme on which their Player Piece has landed. Right?

BOB: Almost. We've talked about the 20 spaces around the board – the theme spaces – but not about the 4 corners of the board. These are labeled Serendipity Spaces. When a player lands on Serendipity, he/she draws from a different stack of cards. These also relate to the themes but sometimes they send a player back instead of forward. Two come to mind: Your name has been changed, go back to the Names Space and Congratulations, you got “most likely to succeed” award go forward to the Schools Space.

DON: I know FamilyLore Game is usually not very competitive but as a person tuned into the bottom line, how do I win?

BOB: By going around the board four times. Each time a player passes the Start Space, he/she collects a chip.

DON: Say a bit more about the “open ended story cards.”

BOB These make the game continually interesting and unique to the players. And, speaking of winning, you get big rewards when it’s your turn to write one.

DON: Any hints about writing the questions?

BOB: Oh, yes, several, but a couple are very important. Make the question interesting and clear and the answer likewise. Give rewards that range from an appropriate amount (given the difficulty of the question) and an excessive amount for a truly wonderful answer. A second hint: make the question have some depth or imagination. I love questions such as How would members of the family dress at a costume party? or Who is most likely to be invited to the President’s birthday party and what present would s/he take? or What is one characteristic of a person that you would choose as a friend – and why?

DON: That “…and why” tag to the questions means a lot to you doesn't it?

BOB: Oh, yes! That’s the heart of it all, isn't it? Not just that Dad’s name was Paul but he was named that because his mother thought Paul Newman was the best!

DON: It is such a great game. Someday, we'll look for another version that helps us to have fun and be inquiring about other parts of our lives. How about one on business?

BOB: Maybe, but for now, I want to help people get into their stories and history.

DON: Many thanks, Bob.

Don Greenhouse heads a small, self-owned consulting business in Western New York.

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3. Legacy through Leadership

LP06. Linking the Organizational Rewards to Performance

Linking the organizational rewards to performance simultaneously links the organizational-level rewards system to individual performance, the unit performance, and accomplishment of the organization's strategic direction. Each employee understands that his or her total compensation is linked to the success of all three. Success at one level is not enough. Performance at all three levels must be successful. This process ensures consistency between individual rewards and organizational rewards. It ensures Associates that the organization is committed to linking individual performance with personal career and financial growth.

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4. Around the Family Business Experts web sites

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