Revitalizing Family Business Consulting - image by Metamorworks Canva Pro
Revitalizing Family Business Consulting - image by Metamorworks Canva Pro

Revitalizing Family Business Consulting with Exponential Thinking

The core challenge facing family businesses is a lack of clarity around succession planning. Older owners struggle to evaluate next-gen leaders, while rising talent isn't sure how to demonstrate their readiness.

Niki Faldemolaei Doug Gray
Niki Faldemolaei / Doug Gray

As the family business landscape undergoes a massive $74 trillion wealth transfer, consultants Doug Gray and Kent Rhodes saw an opportunity to reinvent their industry. Their Assess Next Gen (ANG) platform exemplifies how small and medium-sized firms can leverage Exponential Organization (ExO) principles to drive innovation and impact. The chapter title is Family Business Consulting; A Blueprint for Scalable, Impactful Generational Transitions 

This chapter is part of a larger book, Exponential Organizations in Action: Community-Curated Case Studies Transforming An Abundant Future, that showcases how the exponential organization (ExO) framework pioneered by Salim Ismail, Peter Diamandis and a community of curators can be applied by small and medium enterprises and entrepreneurs, not just tech giants. By tapping into ExO principles like leveraging the crowd, using staff on-demand, and maximizing shared assets, a diverse group is catalyzing change.

The core challenge facing family businesses is a lack of clarity around succession planning. Older owners struggle to evaluate next-gen leaders, while rising talent isn't sure how to demonstrate their readiness. ANG's 360-degree assessment process tackles this head-on, providing actionable feedback that aligns the generations.

What's most impressive is how the ANG team has operationalized ExO best practices to rapidly scale their solution. Rather than building a massive in-house team, they tapped into a "staff on demand" model, inviting 37 independent consultants to leverage the ANG process. This allowed them to quickly expand their reach without major upfront investment.

They've also embraced the power of community and crowdsourcing. By publishing weekly content, hosting podcasts, and cultivating a 1,100-person mailing list, ANG has built widespread awareness and engagement - a key driver of their success.

Particularly notable is their use of artificial intelligence to supercharge product development. When it came time to write a new book, the team leveraged AI prompts to draft  a 120-page manuscript in just 4 weeks.  That book, The Success Playbook for Next Gen Family Business Leaders, is now available in any format from multiple platforms.  See  ​​

This kind of exponential productivity boost is a game-changer for authors and small consulting firms.

But the true test lies in real-world results. And by that measure, ANG is delivering in a big way. They've developed over 30 use cases, working with hundreds of raters across 11 client organizations. Feedback has been glowing, with clients describing the assessment process as "the best I've received in my career."

[Excerpt from the Family Business Consulting Chapter…]

The consulting sector typically focuses on specialized expertise, such as wealth, or legal, or asset management.  A more comprehensive approach, called Family Business Consulting, focuses on the process dynamics for governance, succession, continuity, and legacy.  Although family businesses are the social fabric of global exponential change, most family business leaders hesitate to invest in consulting.  

The problem is that most family business leaders are confused.  The older generation owners don’t know how to assess the capabilities of potential successors.  The younger Next Generation leaders don’t know how to demonstrate their capacity.  They all need more career clarity and less conflict.  They need to sleep better at night.  They need both 1) an effective process and 2) validated content.  They need better family business consulting.

Theoretical models are pictures used to describe problems (See Figure 1).   Our experience is that Family Enterprises are more complex than any other type of business, therefore our theoretical model describes the complex relationships of these 5 systems—the individual, family, business, learning and ownership systems.  


Description automatically generated
The Assess Next GenTM theoretical model for Family Business leaders

Figure 1.  The Assess Next GenTM theoretical model for Family Business leaders

The central questions for every leader include:

  • How do I fit in? 
  • What is my capability?  

Those identity questions are the backbone of every family business, social psychology, and Industrial/Organizational psychology.  Those questions also describe how you learned “your place in the world.”  And those questions describe how your children fit into your family.  Each of these five systems is based on our assumptions, and the following lists may be useful for any consultant or leader.

We created Assess Next GenTM (ANG)  in 2022 in response to a perceived market gap between what family business leaders want and what consultants can provide.  Doug Gray, PhD, and Kent Rhodes, EdD, met as consultants with The Family Business Consulting Group. ,  They created two versions of to provide customized leadership consulting for both non-family and family  business leaders.

***Fast Forward, here are some results with many more outlined in the chapter…

Individual Case Study- Family Focus

Nancy had a new Family Business executive coaching client and wanted to explore the possibility of succession for that Next Gen leader.  Specifically, she wanted to assess the strengths, weaknesses, blind spots and hidden talents of that leader, beyond the anecdotal feedback from others, and beyond her self-report.  Nancy also wanted to deepen the consulting engagement.  She wanted to model how family and non-family members could provide professional feedback to one another.  She said, “We needed to increase engagement with family members who had never provided direct feedback to one another.  This assessment process increased direct communication, family harmony, and validated the fact that the leader was in fact more than capable of being their next successor.”  Nancy was able to provide 50 specific behavioral directions for the leader.  She also provided feedback on what the leader needed to “start doing, stop doing, and continue doing.”  This assessment process evolved into a turning point in the family because they stopped acting like separate silos in the business and started to collaborate directly.  

Team Case Study- Next Gen Skills Focus

Doug had worked for 18 months with five mid-management leaders in a fast-growing financial services company.  They were preparing for a year of transition, with the President and CFO moving into newly created board roles.  The owner and executive leadership team requested that this 360-leadership development assessment process be completed within two months.  The results included specific behavioral feedback that quickly provided immense value for individuals and the organization.  One leader was re-assigned to a new division.  Three leaders were given new titles and compensation increases.  About 70 raters (50% of their workforce) provided confidential feedback.  The results of the digital report provided a road map for individual work in their next 12 months.  The owner received an executive summary of aggregated feedback, and a summary of individual strengths (high scores), weaknesses (low scores), hidden treasures (gaps with self-rater scores lower than other raters) and career limiting behaviors (gaps with self-rater scores higher than other raters).  Each leader also received a lengthy video summary from Doug on behaviors to “start doing, stop doing, and continue doing.”  They had multiple 1:1 sessions to implement their feedback into action plans called Personalized Learning Plans (PLPs).  The leaders wrote their PLPs, and then shared them with their managers.  Doug facilitated feedback sessions with the owner, and with the executive leadership team.  Perhaps the most significant outcome was that all participants in this assessment process learned that they had a voice and opportunity to accelerate a strategic performance feedback process within the family business. 

Several clients have described this assessment process as “the best feedback I have received in my career.”

[...end excerpt]

Perhaps most impressive is their new Next Gen Peer Group program. By designing an immersive hybrid virtual/in-person experience, team ANG has tapped into the power of community to drive learning and implementation. And the fact that 80% of participants are new to consulting underscores the unmet need in the market.  In 2024, that Next Gen Peer Group program has expanded into a virtual-only option, and customized opportunities for any association to increase member engagement and generate new revenue.   See

The ANG story is a powerful case study in how any consulting business can apply ExO principles to reinvent their industry. By leveraging agile staffing, crowdsourcing, AI, and engagement-driven offerings, they've created a scalable, impactful solution that's transforming family enterprises. It's a masterclass in exponential thinking - and a blueprint for consultants looking to future-proof their firms.

See the complete chapter in: 

Exponential Organizations in Action: Community-Curated Case Studies Transforming An Abundant Future

Birthed from the same decentralized community that catalyzed Exponential Organizations: Version 2.0 by Salim Ismail, Peter Diamandis, and Michael S. Malone, this audacious book charts an evolutionary path towards post-industrial abundance. It harmonizes exponential thinking with syntropic design principles and the collaborative ethos of web3, guided by the visionary ideas of our very own futurists.

Sign up for the pre-release of the Group Chapter Book built by the community for the community:

About the Authors

Niki Faldemolaei

Niki's portfolio includes transformative projects like Compliance Agility for SDG/ESG's, ExO Angels and the Extended Health Span Index, demonstrating her ability to reshape industries and drive impactful change.

Doug Gray, PhD, PCC

Doug is the co-founder of,  CEO of, and CEO of   Since 1997 his consulting focuses on “What really works?”  He and his family live near Nashville, TN, USA.

Stewarded by ExO Angels 

ExO Angels have deep ties to solving for global challenges. In recent years, there has been an increased focus on decentralized forms of social organization. This shift is in part due to the growing body of evidence that decentralized systems are more effective at meeting the needs of their members. When power is decentralized, individuals are able to make decisions that are based on the needs of their community rather than the top 1%. This leads to more equitable and sustainable societies.

 One of the most important benefits of decentralized systems is that they give the female archetype a greater role in decision-making. When women are given sovereignty over their own communities, they are more likely to focus on the needs of their residents. This, in turn, leads to more sustainable and equitable societies. Decentralization is a powerful tool for promoting social justice and creating more livable communities. The time is now to embody the divine balance of nature's law.

#wealth #familybusiness #successionplanning #exponentialorganization #syntropicworld #communityengagement #exoangels

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