Chapter 8

The Challenge of Inheritance

As external change creates business opportunity, companies that endure are the ones that respond to the opportunities created by subsequent change. Or indeed to new conditions or market demands.

To develop this idea it is suggested that there are three broad and overlapping sets of actions that enable companies to endure over time and even across generations. The first of these is about making radical changes – to the product, to the market in which it chooses to operate, to service delivery or even to the overall conception of the business. These companies transform or reinvent themselves. The second series of actions is where there are new impulses from successive generations that take the business forward. The third type is adjusting and adapting to external changes over time, taking advantage of opportunities to add to the range and scope of the business.


Modes of Business Perpetuation
Transgenerational Progression

While these three types of action are not always discrete or mutually exclusive, it is worth distinguishing the types to show where the emphasis lies, showing what is the main thrust. But it should be emphasised that we are talking about types of company behaviours not types of companies.

We will begin with a strong example, where a company is transformed – more than once.


On the second weekend of April 1940 the forces of Nazi Germany invaded Norway and Denmark. Denmark, flat and open ...

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