You think you've got issue ... look at business in a family way
I sat next to wonderful woman on the plane the other day. She was one of 11 children from a humble but happy family which didn't seem to want for anything. She had good parents and good support throughout her life. Our chat made me start to think about families and the values that guide good business.
I sat next to wonderful woman on the plane the other day. She was one of 11 children from a humble but happy family which didn't seem to want for anything. She had good parents and good support throughout her life. Our chat made me start to think about families and the values that guide good business.What is it about families that make them such powerful units? Well, they stick together as a group - not a bad idea for businesses if they want to get rid of the office politics. They tell each other the truth - sometimes at the top of their voice, but at least it's loud and clear. They defend themselves against all the other families but they will also lend a cup of sugar to the neighbours next door. And they usually do their best to share everything that they can. Pretty good rules for business.And big families have often created big business, although we don't see so much of that any more. It was all different a generation or two ago, when the emergence of department stores changed the marketing of products for the family.Simcha Baevski (Sidney) Myer came from a large family with 11 children. The founder of the oldest department store in the world still operating under its original name, David Jones (1793-1873), boosted the colonial population with eight children in equal quantities of girls and boys."A thoughtful effort for the young country," Charlie says. Louise agrees. "A natural leader in non-discrimination - I'm impressed."For many years our royal families led the way in clan procreation. Queen Victoria had nine children and 42 grandchildren, more than half of whom married into other royal families. As a result she had the additional title of "Grandmother of Europe" bestowed upon her.But the growing global antipodean influence that I often talk about in this column is further evident these days in Denmark, with a royal couple producing children two at a time. Princess Mary of Denmark and Tasmania now has four kids from three "confinements", as they used to say.But little seems to confine some of the biggest stars. In the world of showbiz, Mel Gibson has set the mark. He is number six of 11 children and, in an effort to catch up with his mum and dad, he has had six sons and three daughters. And then there are the Jacksons. Joseph Jackson and his wife, Katherine, had 10 children, including Michael.And for the marketing people out there, George Foreman sure knows how to keep boxing on, seemingly for generations to come. He has 10 kids. Each of his five sons is called George and two of his daughters are Freeda George and Georgetta.After his retirement and a health scare or two, George decided that he wanted to promote healthy eating and so, with Russell Hobbs Inc, he invented the George Foreman Grill. More than 100 million units have been sold and his personal cut is over $US200 million ($190 million) - a big family with a big business that will be around for more than a few life times.Another legend is Frank Bunker Gilbreth, the father of time-and-motion study as well as 12 children. When asked why so many, he would always reply: "They're cheaper by the dozen."He was wrong. I reckon it's "better by the dozen".