The keynote speaker at last week’s Connecticut Business and Industry Association and UConn Family Business Program Conference was Stew Leonard, Jr. He discussed the challenges and joys of the family business, which had grown from milk trucks delivering door to door all the way to busy supermarkets in several locations. He talked about the G-1 generation (his parents), G-2 (the adult siblings), and G-3 (their teenage children) and how the family worked on a regular basis with a family business consultant. The family has even created its own guidebook of principles important to success of the business and the family.
One of his most interesting points involved communication: the need to keep it open in order to keep everyone in the loop. The game of “Telephone”, where a message works its way down the line and around a circle, is all about the good fun in the twists and turns the original message makes as it moves from one person to another. But a wildly distorted original message that secretly moves through a family or business isn’t fun — it’s a sure invitation for conflict.