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F B AC A D EM Y


SEVEN STEPS TO SUSTAINABILITY


Learningby example T


Merck had been able to continually anticipate changes in the macro- environment and adapt itself


here are several things that family businesses can learn from the history of Merck. Cohesion and continuity are the benefits of adherence to family values and tradition. Merck


values of hard work, empathy, and striving for excellence were imbibed and inculcated across generations mainly through practice. Well-structured family and business governance


mechanisms like the ones followed in Merck, make decision-making more systems and process oriented rather than person oriented. Separation of operational versus strategic matters or family versus business issues brings clarity in decision-making and also in the roles and responsibilities of different family and non-family members. Merck is also a unique family business where the


family continued to exercise strong oversight across 12 generations. Similarly, the strong professional practices of the organisation take care of the weaknesses of stewardship orientation and keep the business focused on its strategic objectives. Merck had been able to continually anticipate changes in the macro-environment and adapt itself to not only survive those changes but thrive through organisational transformation.


PHOTOGRAPHY: GETTY IMAGES, MERCK


1. Develop a very long-term strategic vision and ability to anticipate change Merck always restructures itself and constantly strategises for very long- term horizon spanning multiple generations. A key component of their long-term sustenance strategy is to keep the business healthy, efficient, profitable, and growing. This ensures that the business continues to be an attractive and rewarding investment for family shareholders to remain together. In addition, they developed an ability to anticipate and prepare timely for the forthcoming changes in the macro-environment. This preparedness has helped them overcome grave survival crises during the two world wars. Hence, family businesses that develop an intergenerational long- term vision and build the capabilities to quickly anticipate and respond to changes in the business environment are more likely to last.


2. Inculcate family values, culture, and tradition The Merck family has deep-rooted values that are respected, practiced and passed on from generation to generation. Caring for others, culture of stewardship, merit


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