Mitzi Perdue’s strategies to preserve your company as a family business

The widow of Frank Perdue, longtime president and CEO of Perdue Farms, offers nine suggestions gleaned from observing her husband’s leadership in the January/February 2016 issue of Family Business Magazine. Here are three of them:

Form a family council. “This is important because families are a little like countries. When you have a participatory democracy, everyone can feel that their views are heard, disagreements can be handled, steam let off and ruptures prevented. It’s inevitable that family members will disagree, but a governance plan can help resolve disagreements. Decide early on whether decisions are to be made by a simple majority or by, say, a two-thirds or three-quarters vote.”

Institute a covenant culture. “The culture Frank encouraged was, ‘It’s OK to disagree, and to disagree as strongly and as vocally as it takes to get the issues out on the table. However, problems are to be solved within the family.”

Develop a written document that expresses your values. “In Frank’s case, he spent days creating a document outlining ten values he cherished. The purpose of the document is to transmit ethical values from one generation to the next. Each family member has a framed copy. It’s a deep part of our culture.”

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