For 35 years, Dennis has helped families manage the personal and organizational issues that lead to successful and fulfilling transfer of businesses, wealth, values, commitments and legacies between generations. Since 1981, he has been professor of Organizational Systems and Psychology at Saybrook University in San Francisco. He received his BA in Philosophy, MA in Management and Ph.D. in Sociology from Yale University.
As both an organizational consultant and clinical psychologist, he is one of the architects of the emerging field of family enterprise consulting. As a founding member of the Family Firm Institute, he has presented at many of their annual conferences, served on their board, written frequently for their journal Family Business Review, and was awarded the Richard Beckhard Award for contributions to practice. In 2007 he was named Thinker in Residence for S. Australia, where helped the region design a strategic plan for the future of their entrepreneurial and family businesses.
Dennis is the author of the new book Stewardship of Your Family Enterprise: Developing Vital and Responsible Next Generation Leadership, Working with the Ones You Love: Building a Successful Family Business; Working with Family Businesses: A Guide for Professional Advisors, as well as 12 other management books, including Getting Your Organization to Change, Rekindling Commitment, and Take This Job and Love it!
He has helped financial advisors and wealth managers in a number of firms to develop the skills to serve the personal needs of their client families. He is the co-creator of the Enterprising Family Sustainability Index, the Aspen Family Business Inventory, the Aspen Family Wealth Inventory, and other tools for assessment of family enterprise success.
Dennis has just completed the first phase of a new research project on Best Practices of Multi-Generational Global Family Businesses. Previously, he co-authored the Campden Research study The New Wealth Paradigm: How affluent women are taking control of their futures, and was the researcher for the JP Morgan study of best practices of multi-generational families. His research on the governance of start-up companies, After the Term Sheet is an important contribution to the field of entrepreneurship. He is a regular contributor to magazines such as Families in Business, Worth and Family Business. He was awarded the Editor's Choice Award in 2005 for his article on family business strategic planning for the Journal of Financial Planning.
In 1984 he founded Changeworks Global, a consulting firm in San Francisco, where he worked with organizations and family businesses about long-term change to build competitive advantage by unleashing the power of their employees. He was a founder of the web firm MemeWorks, that pioneered the use of on-line executive development tools. In 1990-92 he served as Deputy Director of Research for the Macarthur Foundation Network on Healthy Companies. His video, Managing People through Change, was voted one of the Best Products of 1991 by the magazine Human Resource Executive. His work has been featured in Inc. magazine, Entrepreneur, Nation's Business, Time and The Wall Street Journal, and he has been profiled in People magazine.
He has been active in non-profit governance, serving on the boards of the World Business Academy, Saybrook Graduate School, and the Center for Mind-Body Medicine.
Upcoming Presentations and Public Addresses
Governance of Family Busines, October, 2012, Family Firm Institute, Brussels
Degrees, Discipline, Year, Institution
Ph.D., sociology, 1975, Yale University.
M. Phil., sociology, 1973, Yale University
MA, administrative sciences (organizational behavior), 1970, Yale University.
BA, philosophy, 1967, Yale University.
Current Projects and Professional Activities
Completed phase one of multi-year research project Best Practices of Multi-Generational Global Family Businesses, which will be published in multiple formats, by the Family Office Exchange and the Family Business Network. Will begin phase two of the research.
Minding the Store:How Multi-Generation Families Manage Family Dynamics While They Exercise Control Over their Businesses, submitted for publication.
Money,Wealth and Identity, from A. Kanner, ed. The Consumer Society, APA, in press.
Your Money and Your Life: Assessing your relationship to your wealth, in press.
Getting Your Organization To Change. C. Scott, co-author. Menlo Park, CA: Crisp Pubs. 1999. A blueprint for the steps to implementing major transformational change in an organization, this is a set of tools and practices for change that is used as the change methodology for one of the big five consulting firms.
Take This Work and Love It! C. Scott, co-author. Simon and Schuster, 1988. Revised edition, Menlo Park, CA: Crisp Pubs, 1997. A set of tools for exploring the meaning and purpose in your work, and for making changes in how you work, and in how you approach your work, to make a difference in yourself and your organization.
Working With Family Businesses: A Guide for Professionals. D. Bork, S. Lane, L. Dashew, and G. Heisler, co-authors. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1995. A guide for advisors—accountants, lawyers, investment managers, bankers, financial planners, and consultants, who work with the complex dynamics of family businesses and family investments. Shows how to assess the impact of families, how to deal with conflict and create effective governance structures to separate family from business.
Important Conference Presentations
I have been on around 100 Saybrook dissertation committees in the past 20 years.
My focus has been on systems and organizational change, family dynamics, spirituality in business, personal growth and development, especially career, social issues.
Expertise Working with Saybrook Students
I am an action researcher. I particularly focus on survey, interview, historial and case study research.
Research Expertise Rating Guide:
- studied in a class or have read intensively on my own
- special training in the form of a workshop or equivalent
- taught a class in, or supervised research using this method (research practicum, on a dissertation or master's committee
- used in research myself
- published or presented at conferences my research using this method
Methods Traditionally Considered As Quantitative (But Need Not Be)
|Randomized Controlled Clinical|
Methods That Could Use Quantitative Or Qualitative Methods
|Events paradigm (psychotherapy)|
|Case History Methods|
|Multiple Case Depth Research|
|Hermeneutic Single Case Efficacy Design|
Methods Primarily Associated With Qualitative Research (But May Also Use Quantitative)
Types of Analysis
|Simple Parametric Statistics (t-test, etc.)|
|Analysis of Variance (including MANOVA)|
|Analysis of Covariance|
|Regression (including multiple regression)|
|Discriminant Function Analysis|
|Structural Equation Modeling/Path Analysis|
|Meta-analysis and effect sizes|
|Time series analysis|