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Who's The Boss?

Helping family business handle office politics.

The Curtis family, like any other, has its ups and downs. Sibling rivalry rears its ugly head every now and then, and Mom and Dad don't always see eye to eye. The Curtises also run a small business, and this makes their interpersonal relationships all the more important . . . and complicated. And while the Curtises are fictional characters, their story--told in the interactive CD-ROM movie "A Matter of Time"--can help real-life family businesses contend with the unique issues they face.

Created by MassMutual: The Blue Chip Company, "A Matter of Time" doesn't profess to know all the answers, but it does offer several solutions to issues family businesses face, including estate and strategic planning, leadership development, and compensation and performance. (Plus, the movie contains some pretty engaging scenes, especially the harrowing episodes where nonfamily employees get caught in the middle of family disputes.) Users can choose from different scenarios, which are then played out, or click on characters to see what they're really thinking.

"Family businesses tend to be successful, but they have a heck of a time moving from one generation of management and ownership to the next," says Peter O'Neil with Springfield, Massachusetts-based MassMutual. With more than 12 million family-owned businesses in the United States, "A Matter of Time" is more than good drama--it's a valuable tool for family businesses. Contact your local MassMutual office for more information.

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This article was originally published in the April 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Who's The Boss?.

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