Should You Manage Your Family Like a Business?

Jeff and I love to look at people that have taken ideas from especially the workplace and have applied them to the family. And I know for some people that feels a little weird, but the reason why that makes a lot of sense is because the family is an organization. It has to produce a lot of things. And so it’s important to begin to treat the family more like you would think to treat an organization.

And so one of the management philosophies that has just erupted in the last few decades is agile. And a guy named Bruce Feiler just wrote an article for the Harvard Business Review. And the article is entitled The Agile Family Meeting. And if you guys have been following us, you know that we really are interested in ways of seeing families have good, productive weekly meetings. And so let me read, and I’m curious, Jeff, will you think about this?

So he said, “At a moment when many families around the world are confined to home, climbing the walls, and are searching desperately for fresh techniques for managing their household chaos, one proven solution that my family along with many others uses comes from an unlikely source, agile development.” And basically what this does is you ask a series of questions on a weekly basis. Number one, what worked well in our family this week? Number two, what didn’t work well in our family this week? And number three, what will we agree to work on this week?

And these are questions that our family for years has been asking at our family meeting. What’s the one thing we want to work on? What do we want to improve? What is working, what isn’t working? And this basic idea that happens within agile development. This is kind of really started in trying to get software developers that were only essentially getting communication downstream from kind of the top of the corporate ladder down to the developers.

While it came back up where things just were not what the leaders wanted. They realized the communication had to go both ways. And so they discovered that these three questions really forces conversations both directions. And so he said, there’s three results of this. It empowers the children, it shows it shows the family the parents aren’t infallible, and it builds in the flexibility that families need to improve things iteratively over time.

And so if you guys haven’t experimented with a family meeting, it’s a really, really helpful tool. And I think that we could learn some stuff from the business world in this area. But yeah, Jeff, how does that strike you?

Yeah. I don’t know if you pronounce it Feiler, Feeler, but I love his stuff, you guys. It is awesome. Definitely check it out. He has a great book in this regard too. But yeah, one thing too, I’ll even note too, about what you said earlier that sparked a thought is why we take so much advice and sometimes notes from businesses or groups or organizations, it’s not just because the family has an organization, but what workplace and what groups have not done in America that family has, is lost the fact that they have a mission inherent, right?

A business cannot go on without a mission. So then they have to, because of that, they have to then use a lot of tools to accomplish that mission. When we forgot in the West that we are a mission-based family, we believe we’re consumer-based families. And consumers are going to have different tools to do what they think they need to do. So, that’s just one thing I like to think about.

But I totally agree with the family meetings. That’s like step … We do a million tools. There’s one or two or three things, maybe Sabbath family meetings that are like, “If you just nail these, that’s like 80% of turning your family upside down for better.” And so, yeah, lean into that, look up at this article, family meetings.

And there’s a lot of … I’m even writing about this in my book right now, there’s seven different family type of meetings. I don’t think there’s seven, but there’s a lot of like small little five minute ones. There’s pre-game, there’s post-game. There’s coaches meetings. There’s all these different layers that when you think about it is a really helpful unlocking tool that shouldn’t be overwhelming, but it’s like, “Oh yeah, we get to do this over the next 10 years. And we have a lot of time to practice.” So that’s what I would say.

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