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Recently we had some issues in our family. I will not bother you with all the issues, but I would like to share with you how we solved them. Our neighbor pointed us to a family advisor. We worked for a couple weeks with this advisor, let’s call him Carl, and his systematic approach led to a good improvement in a relative short period of time. Of his 10-step SFIIP (Strategic Family Interaction Improvement Program) the following steps had the biggest impact.

  1. Vision/ Mission. In step one we had to define the vision and the mission of our familiy. Why were we a family? What did we want to accomplish with our family? What was our family going to contribute to society?
    This turned out to be a difficult phase. Alignment was difficult to accomplish in the two sessions reserved for this topic. Carl in the end proposed to proceed to step two and then come back to one later. Many other families had done this as well. 
  2. Our Operating Model. Step two was a lot more fun. This was about what Carl called ‘The Family Operating Model’. Without a clear Operating Model chaos is the result, so Carl was not at all surprised about the state our family was in.  How did we want to organize ourselves to accomplish our goals? In simpler terms: who is ultimately the boss? We could choose between several models, and Carl had examples of models that worked well (according to Carl) for families across the county.
    In the Traditional family operating model there is finally one boss in the family, generally the man in the house. In the Modern family operating model, the power is more dispersed. The main power is still with the parents, but clearly divided between the two parents. This model only works if there are clearly defined accountabilities between the two partners. One person should have the final responsibility for certain areas.
    In the Dispersed operating model the power is divided between all the members of the family.
    The Chaos model, as practiced by our family (we will talk about every decision until we reach consensus and if no consensus is reached everybody goes his/ her own way or we take no decision at all) was not an option for Carl.
  3. Accountability/ Responsibility matrix.  After step 2, where I was forced to accept the Dispersed model, we went on to clarify the very important Acountability/ Responsibility matrix. Although we never fully grasped the difference between being accountable and being responsible, we were able to complete the matrix. To give you an impression I give you a snapshot at the end of the blog.
  4. Values. No family can function without values. For days we worked on our family values, and in the final session with Carl we were able to come up with the following three (the maximum number in the SFIIP): Fun, Procrastination and Soccer. It was a compromise, but according to Carl certainly a unique list that set us apart from many other families.
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Dutch translation of this blog post here.

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