Working in my own family business and as a specialist family business adviser for over 25 years, I have come to understand the unique advantages and challenges associated with having Kin in the Game.  Drawing on this experience, I have developed a unique approach to empowering families in business to achieve their potential, called Tears, Sweat & Blood.


Tears mode or phase, relates to the complex emotional and behavioural dynamics that are often experienced by families in business, including:

  • People holding onto things that have been said or done in the past 
  • Confusion amongst family and key staff about who is responsible for what
  • Frustration and uncertainty about the future ownership and management of the business 
  • Inadequate or non-existent communication and decision making processes
  • Tension around the entry, roles, remuneration and promotion of family members
  • A lack of clear priorities and direction, and no overall business plan
  • Strained personal and working relationships, and sometimes outright conflict. 

These challenging, and sometimes debilitating dynamics, invariably impact on the health of both the family and the business, and often literally involve the shedding of tears.

My approach when a family business is in Tears mode or phase, is to facilitate a structured discovery process, designed to clarify the individual perspectives, concerns and aspirations of all stakeholders in the family, and in the business.

I then incorporate the outcomes of these individual discussions into a comprehensive Findings, Observations & Recommendations Report, and reveal and explore them in a safe and constructive collective family meeting, designed to identify the views, values and aspirations that all family business stakeholders have in common, as well as the challenges that need to be addressed in order for the family and the business to survive and thrive.

My focus when working with family businesses in Tears mode or phase is often more about the goals, mindset and communication of those involved, rather than the performance of the organisation itself. 


Sweat mode or phase relates to the time and effort required to implement and bed-down the various communication and decision-making processes needed to ensure sustainable family and business cohesion and success, including:

  • Formulating and documenting a leadership and/or ownership succession plan & timetable
  • Establishing a structured decision-making landscape, such as an Advisory or formal Board, a Family Council or a regular Family Retreat
  • Incorporating core values and ground-rules into a Family Business Charter (or Constitution) 
  • Developing a Strategic Plan designed to serve as a road map for the future direction and priorities of the business.

These processes are often needed because, despite having a wonderful product or service, many family businesses have outgrown the way they have always done things, and complex and important issues are still decided “on the run”, or with minimal evaluation, consultation or external input.

Typically, a fair amount of sweat needs to be raised for a family business to change and professionalise its approach to planning, communicating and making decisions, hence the name of this mode/phase.

My focus when working with family businesses in Sweat mode/phase, is on gradually assisting them to see the benefits of moving communication and decision-making from the “kitchen table to the Board table”.


Blood mode or phase, relates to the exciting and powerful initiatives high-functioning family businesses can take to capitalise on their competitive advantage, and achieve long term growth and wealth, including:

  • Enhancing staff, client & consumer trust and loyalty by creating a “family brand” 
  • Creating a meaningful competitive edge by tapping into your family business’ inherent entrepreneurialism, flexibility and passion
  • Leveraging business success to generate long term family wealth
  • Introducing, mentoring and developing the next generation of family leaders
  • Establishing a range of cultural engagement measures

Whilst no blood is actually spilt during this mode/phase, the presence of blood engenders a level of passion, momentum and engagement that non-family businesses are unable to match.

My focus when working with family businesses in Blood mode/phase, is to monitor the ongoing progress of the agreed succession and/or strategic/business plan, and to identify and exploit the very real and powerful competitive advantages a family business typically enjoys.

Ground Floor
61 Station Street
Malvern Vic 3144
0419 306 271

Ground Floor
61 Station Street
Malvern Vic 3144
0419 306 271