Our Services: Vitality Audit


                                                                            VITALITY AUDIT

“Vitality” (Definition: the state of being healthy and active; energy)

 “Audit” (Definition: a systematic review or assessment of something)

Most of us shiver at the idea of an audit. After all, we usually don’t push our way to the front of the line to be audited by the IRS! Indeed, the very thought of being audited for anything seems daunting, but it doesn’t need to be.

When we think about it, audits are everywhere. School kids get audited...we call them grades. Most of us reconcile our checkbook each month...an audit. Counting how many push-ups we do in the morning is a type of audit. Measuring how many scoops of coffee we put into our coffee maker...an audit?

My point is that audits are not necessarily bad. Most of the time, they are beneficial. They provide understanding and direction.

                                                            Family-business Vitality Audit

The Vitality Audit is what some people compare to an annual physical by your medical doctor, but for your family-business. As physicians measure your overall vitality, so do we measure the “health” of your family-business.

The Vitality Audit provides owner-principals a confidential verbal discussion and a written report analyzing the dynamics that drive both the business and the family.

We measure the health of your business in (10) categories with a written instrument we call our Vitality Index. It is our experience that these (10) categories can provide helpful information regarding your business’ overall health, flexibility, and strength.

How We Do It

Step #1: you and whomever you choose, complete a written survey (Vitality Index) and return them to us for compilation.

Step #2: we all set aside ample time to meet as a group to discuss your results at length.

Step #3: we all strategize and set measurable goals for increasing vitality in the areas, which you seek improvement.

                                                                           Vitality Index

The Vitality Index is the written instrument used in the Vitality Audit. It is a collection of questions regarding the vitality of family and the business.

This Vitality Index provides an objective snapshot of the critical drivers that impact both the family and the business. The Vitality Index works with questions from (10) essential categories:

1.  Family-business enmeshment potential 

2   Strategic Planning and goals
3.  Conflict management
4.   Relationship to money

5.  Succession plans
6.  Role Clarity

7.  Family relationships (1st and 2nd tiers) 

8.  Management styles and effectiveness 

9.  Life direction for family members 

10. Organization and structure

The full Vitality Index (not shown here) is the working instrument, which ultimately provides us with  the material for the Vitality Audit.

The mini-Vitality Index below is a sample version, provided for you to get a “taste” of your family-business vitality. Note: NEITHER, the full nor mini Index instruments are intended to measure your financial stability/vitality.

                                                                 mini-Vitality Index

1.  Family-business enmeshment potential

  • Are family-business matters the main topics of family conversation? 
  • Do multiple families own the business?

2. Strategic Planning and goals

  •  Do all adult family members know the plans of the company? 
  • Does the family-business have a written mission or purpose?

3.  Conflict management

  •  Does the family-business cause strife between siblings? 
  •  Are sensitive issues avoided in the family?

4. Relationship to money

  • Have your legal documents been evaluated within the past two years (i.e., trusts, leases)?
  • Are there re-occurring arguments over money in the family-business?

5.  Succession plans

  •  Is there a documented plan for the succession of business leadership?
  • Is there a question in your mind about the future of the business after you

6.  Role Clarity

  •  Do all the family members clearly understand the roles of the family
    members in the business?
  • Have position assignments been made clear, based upon interest,
    strengths, and capability?

7. Family relationships (1st and 2nd tiers)

  • Is there more than one generation in your family business?
  • Do you know for sure that the siblings who are involved in the family
    business wish to be?

8. Management styles and effectiveness

  • Does the central figure in the business share his/her power and authority
    with others?
  • Do all the family members clearly understand the roles of the family
    members in the business?

9.  Life direction for family members

  •  Does the family-business afford you a sense of accomplishment and
  • Would others around you feel that your business has provided you a
    favorable return for the time and energy you have expended?

10. Organization and structure

  •  Are family member’s titles commensurate with their capability?
  • Is there a written plan which guides the operation of your business?

Family-businesses who undergo a full Vitality Audit end up with a generous amount of information. What they learn about the current vitality health of their family firm equips them to move forward with strategic efforts.

We love to hear your questions and concerns as they arise. Please give us a call or email.

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Our Services: Family-Business Conflicts

A common question is "how badly conflicted are we?" During the discovery process we collect important information to provide an answer. This quick-quiz gives a snapshot for moving forward.


1. Communication among family members is guarded, strained, or generally lacking.

                                                                                              Slight  1   2   3   4   5   Severe

2. Unresolved family differences that affect the business go unaddressed.

                                                                                              Slight  1   2   3   4   5   Severe

3. There are sensitive issues about family or business that inhibit family business growth but are off-limits.                                                                                   Slight  1   2   3   4   5   Severe                                                                             

4. There is an abundance of family criticism about how the business runs, but few constructive suggestions for improvement.

                                                                                              Slight  1   2   3   4   5   Severe 

5. The same issues keep coming up, regardless of previous attempts at solutions. They don't seem to get resolved.

                                                                                              Slight  1   2   3   4   5   Severe

6. Family members can't let go of the past when dealing with each other in the present.

                                                                                              Slight  1   2   3   4   5   Severe 

7. Business decisions are made by family dynamics rather than business logic.

                                                                                             Slight  1   2   3   4   5   Severe


                                                 Slight Level of family-business conflict          0-6 

                                                Moderate Level of family-business conflict    7-21   

                                                Severe Level of family-business conflict       22-35

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Our Services: Polarized Thinking and Conflicts

Polarized Thinking a Recipe for Disaster

Polarized thinking in a family-business can be insidiously destructive. 

One end of polarized thinking occurs when a person or group perceives the world as unsafe and limiting.Protecting the family and the business against  these dangers is of the highest importance. Sometimes threats come from the outside and sometimes from the inside.

The opposite end of polarized thinking occurs when a person or group  perceives the world as a safe place and one of opportunity

In polarized thinking ideal, things, and people are generally either "bad" or "good". 

These two thinking patterns may also be viewed as either “fixed” or “fluid.” It is important to note that neither mode is right or wrong. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, depending upon the situation. It is also essential to view these patterns on a continuum rather than just two opposing boxes.

It is easy to image how distinct differences in thinking styles can cause conflicts. For example, polarization has been the basis of contentious strife among opposing political parties and even wars. Typically, the individual or group strongly believe they are RIGHT, and the other is WRONG. 

Polarization conflicts are just as intense in family-businesses as in politics. In our experience, polarization is often the psychological bedrock of family-business conflicts.

As such, you may wish to use this mini-Audit as a quick snapshot of how fixed or fluid you are personally in your thinking. Please note that these are general questions* which are only indirectly related to family- businesses, but provide surprisingly telling information to the informed. We use a more extended and robust Polarization Audit in our conflict management consulting.

1. It is more important for children to be well behaved than to be considerate.

                                                                                 Strongly Agree   1     2     3     4     5    Strongly Disagree

2. It’s a big, beautiful world, mostly full of good people, and we must find a way to embrace each other and not allow ourselves to become isolated.

                                                                                 Strongly Agree   1     2     3     4     5    Strongly Disagree

3. It is more important for children to have respect for elders than be independent.

                                                                                Strongly Agree   1     2     3     4     5    Strongly Disagree

4. It is more important for children to have curiosity than good manners.

                                                                                Strongly Agree   1     2     3     4     5    Strongly Disagree

5. Our lives are threatened by terrorists, criminals, and illegal immigrants and our priority should be to protect ourselves.

                                                                                Strongly Agree   1     2     3     4     5    Strongly Disagree

*Gratitude to Hetherington, M.; Weiler, J.; Prius or Pickup 


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