REVIEW: The Essence of a Family Enterprise

Written by Samuel C. Johnson © 1988

The phrase oldie but goodie is an apt description of this book. We are fortunate enough to hear from a family business owner who was at the time leading Johnson and Johnson, a company that is  even today cited as an exemplary family owned business.  The real value of the book is the wisdom from a person who has been where most family business owners have been, and has some suggestions for practices, as well as tested advice and perspective to lend.  It is a quick introductory read for those of your clients who might be inspired by his commitment to legacy.

The issues he highlights include servant leadership, successive generations becoming invested in the company, profit sharing for employees, and open-door policies for the company.  He really speaks to the virtue and need for wise council for family business owners in order for them to be more successful.  Johnson and Johnson has had a long history of corporate social responsibility, which he outlines extensively in this book. Not only is it corporate/foundational monetary giving but also giving employees time off to volunteer with their causes and employee contribution matching.

This family and family business really have an outward look to their community, employees and the family as a whole. This book displays how that outlook and methodology can lead to a lasting family owned business and a lasting family legacy.