Published On : Fri, Apr 21st, 2017

Un-conference on Divergent Issues in Family Business due to Generation Gap

Vidarbha Industries Association (VIA) Entrepreneurship Forum organized a program for the business houses of Nagpur titled ‘Un-conference on Issues in Family Business due to Generation Gap’ on Wed 19th April 2017 at VIA Hall. The objective of the program was to understand the reasons behind the growing issues and concerns in business families due to generation gap. More than 25 people from business families working in various domains such as manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, logistics, environment consultancy etc. along with dignitaries from VIA participated in the program.

After the Opening address by Akash Agrawal, Chairman- Entrepreneurship Forum of VIA addressed the participants in which they expressed their concern on the growing trend witnessed in business families wherein the next generation is reluctant to join the family business or may start their own start-up/business independent of the family business and emphasized on the need to address this issue for the benefit of the business families. Atul Pande, President of VIA who himself is a part of a renowned business house of Nagpur , expressed a similar concern about the co existence of Gen X and Gen Y in family business and the turbulence thereof.

The session thereafter took the unique ‘Un-conference’ format in which a brain-storming was done by the participants belonging to business families to identify the various challenges pertaining to the generation gap in business families. For the discussion, the generation born between mid-1980s and late 1990s were termed ‘Gen Y’ while the older generation was as termed ‘Gen X’. The issues that came up were broadly classified under the following categories :

· Inter-generational differences between Gen X and Gen Y.
· Professionalism (Method of Running a Business).
· Implementing Technology in Business.
· Bringing Innovation/Change in Business.
· Competition, Co-creation and Collaboration.

Participants from Gen X and Gen Y gave their opinions on fore-mentioned challenges. ‘A lack of trust arises between gen X and gen Y, because the latter’s judgement concerning the operations and management is questioned by the former’, was a point of contention raised during the discussion, President of Vidarbha Economic Development Council and businessman Devendra Parekh, said, “A synergy between innovation of the young and experience of the elderly always takes the business to a new heights.”

Another point highlighted was that the older generation may be apprehensive towards employing professionals and delegating some operations among family members. The panel members were of the opinion that this apprehension is spawned from the ego of the head of the family concern (or the ‘I ’syndrome).

Vinay Chawla who works with a social entrepreneurship organization said, “Those operating business with a traditional mindset do not trust people outside the family and therefore, refuse to hire professionals. However, doing so would alleviate some burden of operation or management for the head.”

One of the participants pointed out that the older generations are sometimes shy to use technology whether for record-keeping or streamlining certain operations. However, Akash Agrawal argued that it is not the case when it comes to record keeping in legitimate businesses. “Though it may be true for ‘illegal’ ones,” he said.

Paul D’Souza suggested mindful employment of professionals and application of technology would not only make business management easy but it would improve the owner’s lifestyle. “The idea of working 12 hours a day with only four hours of productive work is inefficient. If I can use technology which will allow me complete an entire day’s work in four hours, I could relax in the comfort of my home,” he said.

One of the participants said, “Gen X were not allowed to question business traditions and were supposed to follow what was taught. Gen Y today has the luxury to challenge those traditions and the parents should be able to embrace that.”

The discussion saw impressive participation from top Business Houses of Nagpur, who not only deliberated on the Gen X and Gen Y conflict, but also offered practical solution to bridge the gap.

Asit Sinha , Mentor VIA proposed the ‘Vote of Thanks’. The program was conducted by Anita Rao, Convener Entrepreneur Forum VIA.