COLLABORATION: An Important Paradigm Shift For FEAs

Collaboration builds durable reliable family relationships and offers a consensual roadmap to dispute resolution. My role as a Family Enterprise Advisor (FEA) Family Advocate is to coach advisors and support families to attain the wisdom and best practices of collaboration to produce sustainable valued outcomes for individuals and multigenerational business families.

“Dynamic advocacy through Collaborative Multi-Disciplinary Teams gets to the heart of the paradox from a consensual, principled, and informed multifaceted approach.

Why Collaboration?

Collaboration: An Important Paradigm Shift For Feas CollaborationI propose that the principled consensual collaborative process is the most effective and inclusive way for family enterprises to manage the paradoxes and conflicts they face given the dynamic interaction between family members and the businesses they operate.

Collaboration uncovers aligned values and helps each member understand their different perspectives igniting innovative options to resolve their relationship challenges in a nonthreatening environment. It keeps the business thriving and families intact as  family members acknowledge their capacity to change, even incrementally, and to allow the time to work though tough decisions together. The opportunity to welcome each voice to be heard may be challenging to some while encouraging to others to participate in a meaningful way.

I am a leader in collaborative practice and offer FEAs and their clients the knowledge and skills to support families’ readiness to develop insight and mutually informed outcomes leading to authentic and intuitive collaboration. The listening to and understanding of the interests of each family member brings to the surface unifying, reasonable, and practical guiding values.

“Collaboration builds durable, sustainable, and reliable relationships. Something families will always inherently strive to achieve.”

Key Definitions for FEA Application

Advocacy is any action that aims to influence decisions and cause positive change including de-escalating conflict, inspiring deep listening and dialogue, encouraging collaborative negotiation and decision making, including celebration, and opportunities for reconciliation within families.

Collaboration is a principled process of reaching consensual decisions.

Informed Consent is the transparent process of formally providing information and discussing the scope of potential risks, benefits, and the nature and consequences of that information enabling the clients’ to voluntarily decide what action they need or want to take.

Implied Consent: Unconfirmed and often subjective assumptions are made about the scope of comprehension of the matters for which advisors are seeking the clients’ permission to act.

Interests are the needs, wants, and dreams of each family member

Neutrals: Impartial intervenors needed for their perspective. They hold no interest in the outcome and they provide professional information intended to be non-positional in nature. Their special skillset to manage and eradicate roadblocks, provide creative options to support resolution such as valuators, engineers, legal, auditors, and tax specialists. Any conflict of interest or bias will be stated before being retained.

Paradox: The juxtaposition of two concepts exhibiting both similarities and differences requiring the management by family leaders to open channels and paths through by combining two conventionally unrelated systems – business and family.(Mary Barrett, The 4-L Framework of Family Business Leadership)

Position is the identifying and holding to one path, one action, or one resolution regardless of the consequences, any harm (alienation, divergence of family values), its impracticality, and ineffectiveness. Positions are seen as the ‘traditional way’ of making decisions – ‘it’s the way we’ve always done it” – without understanding why such decisions are made.

Principled Process: Committed use of consensual rules of conduct facilitating effective and efficient participation, conflict resolution, and decision making. For example, contracting agreements will include provisions relating to communication guidelines and best practices of collaboration.

The Paradigm Shift: From Silos to
Collaborative Multidisciplinary Teams (C/MDT)

Collaboration: An Important Paradigm Shift For Feas Paradignm ShiftWe begin with recognizing and confirming the client family’s desire to change from a solo trusted advisor to a Collaborative MDT model. This paradigm change is an intentioned transition requiring full family buy in. It is a change moving from private consultations with one advisor and the key decision-making family member(s) to a transparent principled process with the authentic involvement of all family members cross- and intergenerationally. The transition proceeds at the pace of the least motivated family member to ensure the paradigm change is implemented, supported, and its underlying concepts reinforced across generations.

As an FEA, we’ll apply the Stages of Readiness for Behaviour Change (below) to assess the family. You’ll want to ensure the family members provide informed consent. How they learn about the process is by raising awareness, receiving encouragement, and motivating insights about change.

With informed consent, we’ll task specific family members with developing a concrete plan of action with discrete short and longer term goals. Using educational programs, welcoming inclusiveness, scheduling quarterly family meetings, offering effective problem solving training, and coaching opportunities for individual and small family groups to offer support, reinforcement, and encourage innovation.

Stages of Readiness for Behavior Change

Stage Definition Potential Communications Goals


Precontemplation Individuals are unaware of the collaborative process, have not thought about change, and/or do not want to change


Increase awareness of personal contribution to conflict and unresolved paradoxes; open to consider change


Contemplation Individuals move to thinking about a change in the near future and respond to foreseeable big events in their lives


Encourage and motivate people to acknowledge their capacity to change, be accountable, and make specific plans


Preparation Individuals have made a plan to change Help create a concrete plan of action and set short‐term goals

Client leads, we support with knowledge, factual advice

Action Individuals are implementing a specific plan to change Assist with constructive  feedback, problem solving and paradox identification, social support, and reinforcement

Review with family members current mandates, policies, governance documents


Maintenance Individuals are continuing the desired behavior or repeating a periodic action or actions Assist with coping, providing reminders, finding alternatives, and handling relapses

1:1 or small group coaching

From Communicating Public Health Information Effectively, A Guide for Practitioners by David E. Nelson, M.D., M.P.H., Ross C. Brownson, Ph.D., Patrick L. Remington, M.D., M.P.H., Claudia Parvanta, Ph.D. (Washington, DC: American Public Health Association, December, 2002).

To integrate hesitant or reluctant family members, we’ll welcome voices from inter- and cross generations without assumptions, implicit bias, and ensuring their  individual readiness to participate.

Further, we’ll indulge the family members with curiosity about their interests and values as they educate themselves about the family’ history, accomplishments, and future goals. The collaborative MDT will cultivate humility by being the host not the hero leading the family to discovery and fostering of collaboration.

To change the solo internal decision making culture to a sustainable entrenched collaborative model, we’ll develop with family members comprehensive and complementary governance provisions in the family’s mission statement, instruments of governance, and management policies and practices mirroring collaborative best practices.

We’ll develop a sustainable culture of accountability for implementing, managing, and maintaining that paradigm change through introspection, family meetings, education, coaching, and celebrations of accomplishments.

By comprehensively applying collaborative best practices we will be able to support the family to surface paradoxes and collectively find viable options to identify pathways through.

Lorisa Stein is a senior collaborative practitioner, cross cultural anthropologist, consensual dispute resolution readiness and management consultant, policy analyst, and advisor.

To contact Lorisa Stein, email her at,  call her Direct Line at 416 596 8081, or complete the website Contact Form located at