case study latest tool in Kellogg family business kit
secret that family business can be filled with a range of
the strong emotions that typically accompany blood relations.
To understand this drama, say Kellogg School experts, it's
sometimes helpful to employ a different kind of drama.
what Professors Lloyd
Shefsky and John
Ward have done with the creation of a recent teaching
tool. The co-directors of the Kellogg Center
for Family Enterprises have leveraged the power of the
silver screen to convey some of the challenges confronting
family businesses. The professors enlisted the services of
award-winning actors and a producer — including veterans
of Chicago's Goodman, Shakespeare, The Second City and Steppenwolf
theaters — to create an engaging 16-minute video that
reveals the boardroom dynamics at the fictitious Prince Co.,
a family enterprise facing new competition, and questions
about how to meet it. The video debuted in October at Governing
the Family Business, a four-day Kellogg School executive
has been "overwhelmingly successful," said Shefsky, who wrote
said the goal was to present materials in a way that resonated
with media-savvy participants. Mission accomplished.
participants watched the film and immediately identified members
of their own family with what they saw on the screen," he
noted. "I don't think I've ever seen people do that with a
written case nearly as deeply and personally."
teaching methods aren't going away, Shefsky said, adding that
the Center for Family Enterprises has actually produced more
written family business cases over its five-year existence
than any other peer school. However, he observed, "this is
a multimedia world, and good teachers need every possible
case isn't the first time Shefsky has employed multimedia
to address business challenges. Some 15 years ago he wrote
a play, titled "Prospectus Perspective," to articulate the
complexity of taking a business public, as many of his clients
at the law firm that bears his name were eager to do — even
when it was a bad move for them.
had "an immediate and astounding impact," recalled Shefsky.
he wasn't sure if a similarly unorthodox approach would deliver
results in the family business context. But it has.
were superb," he said. "Even without any coaching on the details
of family business, they got it. They portrayed the most minute
elements of our characters. I guess if they can understand
Shakespeare, they can understand a family business."