The Multinational Monitor


G L O B A L   N E W S W A T C H

The Family

A corporatist strategy for the home

At the bottom of the prestige stack of the nation's magazines about business is a monthly called Nation's Business. It eschews the grand analyses offered by the sages of Fortune or Forbes, opting instead for more folksy stuff typified in a recent piece: "Take a Corporate Approach To Family Life."

This enterprising feature was written by one K. Wayne Scott, who is president of the American Family Society, an operation that is underwritten by life insurance interests.

Scott suggests that, in these times of "stubborn inflation, determined competition, vexing uncertainties and countless other pressure," a businessperson is more likely to be "productive under stress" when assured of the support of his or her family. And Scott's Rx for that support is a dose of family mobilization, into a family board of directors. He suggests monthly board meetings, complete with typed agendas and rotating chairpersonships: your children "may not do as well (as chairs) as you will, but.. .they can develop valuable leadership skills."

Not all of Scott's suggestions for the corporate family would sit well with the management of a typical commercial corporation. He suggests, for starters, "nurturing participatory management rather than dominating with an authoritarian style" (is this another Trojan horse, bring Dr. Spock back into right-thinking American families?); he tells readers to ask of their family corporations, "do we support the physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual development of each family member?" (imagine Lee Iacocca and the boys at Chrysler asking this one with knitted brows about their 158,000. employees), and "do we show love and respect for one another, especially when disagreements arise?" (this would have been a nice one for Harold Geneen and the, old team at ITT), or "do we help people in need and get involved in the community?" (imagine this at an Occidental board meeting called to discuss their Hooker Chemical subsidiary's Love Canal operations).

But don't get the idea that Scott has an altogether benevolent, not to say mushy, attitude toward the well-run corporation family. He's a hard nose when it comes down to it. Keep a book on the family members' accomplishments - "your corporate records" - and save time by having an "executive meeting" with "your spouse." And life's lighter moments should not be squandered - for trips and vacations, "plan ahead and use a camera or journal so you'll have investments for your memory bank."

Scott realizes all this may add to, rather than subtract from, the stress today's go-getting executive may experience. "Developing a tradition of monthly family board meetings will take time and energy..." he counsels, "but it will be well worth the investment." And, he concludes, "you'll make a bedrock contribution to rebuilding America."

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