Planting the seeds for a stronger family

Consider revitalizing your family by adopting a few simple, proven practices used by the most successful businesses around the globe.

by Lesli Gee — 

With today’s crazy schedules, most families are beyond tired. They are exhausted from the morning carpool rush, the back-to-back meetings, the barrage of emails, texts and tweets, and the chauffeuring of overscheduled kids to triple-booked activities. Then there is the rush to pick up dinner, the struggles over homework and the replaying of the scene all over again the next morning.

But what if it could be different? What if you and your family could live the life you have imagined? It is possible; so why not plant the seeds for a stronger family?

Consider revitalizing your family by adopting a few simple, proven practices used by the most successful businesses around the globe. Top organizations are not successful by chance. They use simple but powerful tools such as communication, visioning and process improvement to help their teams get along well, thrive and achieve their goals. Families also can achieve their dreams by taking a similar approach.

This might sound like a foreign concept. It is easy to think of family life in the same way that you think about the weather — unconsciously behaving as if your home life is guided by fate or other distant forces, rather than by your own intentions. Most people would laugh at the idea of a business plan for a family.

Yet most of us would not dream of being so passive in other areas of our lives. For example, think about your last vacation. How much time did you spend researching the right destination, where you stayed and the activities you enjoyed? Or how about when it came to buying a new television? Strange as it may seem, many of us probably spend more time comparison-shopping for a new laptop or cell phone than we have ever spent consciously designing our family lives. Consider some of these basics:

Communication — How are you staying connected as a family? Decide on the best way to communicate as a family, whether it is through a weekly huddle, a family Facebook page or special one-on-one times. The most successful companies invest in communication tools and strategies to ensure everyone on the team stays informed and aligned.

Culture — How would you describe what is most important to your family? Talk about a few of your family’s most cherished values that guide your life and decision-making. What is OK and what is not OK to do at home? Brainstorm a short set of guidelines that all family members can agree to follow.

This might include how you speak to one another, spend money or make decisions. If your family were a brand, what would it look like? Spend an afternoon as a family creating a fun family logo — a visible representation of your family’s values and passions. The most successful organizations purposefully shape their culture so everyone on the team can do their best work.

Mission — What do you want your family’s future to look like? Create a shared vision by asking each family member to imagine it is three years from now and you are very happy with your family life. Which dreams and wishes have come true? The most successful organizations regularly envision and plan for their future.

Practices — Running a family’s day-to-day operations can sometimes feel as complex as running a small business. Pick one area that is causing the most pain in your daily family life, identify the root cause of the problem and agree on a plan to fix it together. A common issue for many families is the rush of getting everyone off to work and school.

Does everyone have a way to contribute or is one person carrying the burden of the work? Share responsibilities by tapping into each member’s unique talents, just as the most successful businesses do.

By adopting just a few of these basic business practices at home, your family will see a “greater return on investment” — in this case, in the form of your time, energy and love.


Lesli Gee and Barbara Fagan-Smith are the co-authors of The Family ROI Experience: A Step-by-Step Guide to Realizing Your Best Family. Their nonprofit organization, Family ROI, uses proven business practices to revitalize, focus and strengthen families.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 31, Number 3, June/July 2012.

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