Family business are constantly ‘accused’ of being slow on strategic decisions and oriented to personal interests. Well, of course, there are some examples like that, but they are not enough to allow us to generalize this perception. Following an evolutionary perspective, companies who have grown and sustained themselves for decades have to be especially good on respond and adequate to environmental needs.  

On this VUCA* world that we face right now, this is an obligation which will be required even with more strength. To sustain themselves, every company – family or not – has to be even more responsive, agile and resilient. Innovation is one key issue on this responsiveness. But how to attach the necessary importance to innovation if everything is going well today? Would innovation really be required for any company? Why would a successful company invest in innovation if it is risky and inefficient?  

Yes, going to the unknown is also losing efficiency in some level. And to have processes to build innovation is to be prepared to deal with risky, new, imperfect knowledge. This is a new competence for traditional family business based for years in same products, markets and industries. It requires new ways of dealing with people and competence, specially on those family systems where people needs to blame other people every time. 

But how to strategically design a family business so it will be prepared for innovation in the same time as it evaluate what it has know and built for years? Ambidexterity is the answer. Instead of focusing only in innovation, as we see in most articles and business literature, a family business leader must think about reconciliate innovation and efficiency.  

This can be done on the strategic thinking level, orienting the company to have a culture do deal with these challenges but also in the structural level, building flexible systems to deal and respond to opportunities and treats. Thinking systemically and having a robust management system to visualize the ways the company is taking and to reorient it is crucial.  

To understand and organize all this complexity, in 2019, I have proposed the ambidexterity business model, so I can show family business leaders the importance and inevitability of a new business system, much more flexible and technically competent. I invite all NextGen Nexus members to read the article about the model on this link: https://renata-barcelos.medium.com/a-new-way-of-thinking-about-organizational-ambidexterity-be828794afa0. 

Hope you enjoy it and that we can discuss it together. 

*VUCA is an acronym for volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. 

About the Author

BRAZIL - Renata Barcelos is the founder of Inovagencia Consultant, a firm that is oriented to the development of ambidexterity and dynamic innovative cultures in traditional companies, especially family business. She develops transformation consulting projects for companies in different sectors, including the use of agile methodologies, OKRs and business modeling. Renata serves a mentor to startups and family successors who seek to develop innovative skills. 

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