Having spent 30 years in various corporate and government organizations, I have to admit I was skeptical when I read the premise of The Family ROI Experience. Trying to take a family through some of the steps a business would follow to increase it's return on investment (ROI) seemed a little extreme to me. After all, families are not businesses and they are not nearly as complex as the organizations I have worked in. But authors Barbara Fagan-Smith and Lesli Gee proved my assumptions wrong and have created an engaging and easy to follow guide to help a family learn from
Can We Apply Business Principles in a Family?
This is perhaps the operative question posed by Barbara Fagan-Smith and Lesli Gee in The Family ROI Experience.
And much to my surprise, the answer is a resounding "yes."
Barbara and Lesli became friends while working at the Quantum Corporation, and both of them had been thinking about how principles like good communication, strategic planning, values, vision and purpose, and tradition apply in a family. As they began to talk more, and experiment within their own families, they found how these concepts could apply in family life.
The Family ROI Experience is an outgrowth of that thinking and experimenting and is written as a guidebook for any family wanting to replicate their experience.
The Family ROI Journey
The book leads the reader and his or her family through a journey of sorts. The journey leads through ten important steps and the book offers a section of readings and activities for each step along the way. The steps include:
These ten steps are sorted into four broad categories and the authors use an analogy of a tree with three branches. At the root of the tree is Communication
because it is so foundational to a family's success. The Culture
branch includes tradition, agreements, values and identity. The Mission
branch addresses purpose and vision for the family. The Practices
branch includes operations, contributions and appreciation
Given this framework, the book then leads the family through an engaging series of thinking and practicing exercises which helps the family members understand and embrace the principles.
Excellent Models for All Ages
One of the things I most appreciated about The Family ROI Experience
was its simplicity at the surface level and the deeper meanings throughout. It is a book written clearly and simply for children to be able to engage in the process, but includes insights that will challenge adults and parents to be better and more connected. The graphics are colorful and the principles easily understood.
For example, in the chapter on family communications, animals are used within the model to make styles more understandable for all. Jackal-type communications are attacking, threatening and aggression. Giraffe-type communications (because giraffes have the biggest hearts of any animal) are broad in perspective, focused on listening and on seeing everyone's point of view. The analogy is easy to understand and remember for children and parents alike.
Each chapter includes exercises that are as simple as "fill-in-the-blanks" sheets, games, a blank family coat of arms and action plans. The exercises are fun and make room for children of every age.
The Bottom Line
I have read a lot of books on parenting and families and some are clearly better than others. For any family size or type, The Family ROI Experience
will lead your family through a journey of self-discovery and a process of improving every aspect of a family's life. The steps are simple and the principles are profoundly useful.
If your family is pretty healthy, you can work on the finer points and improve. If your family is struggling, this book may be even more important in helping you figure out where you are going and whether you are effectively getting there.
I can recommend The Family ROI Experience to any family who just wants to be better - to get along better, to be more effective and to add a serious contribution to the world. The Family ROI Experience is just that - an experience - and one that can make a permanent change for good in the life of any family.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy