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. As both an organizational consultant and clinical psychologist, he is one of the architects of the field of family enterprise consulting. He works with multi-generational families to develop governance tools and the capability of next generation leadership, and with financial organizations and family offices to develop their capability and skills to serve their family clients. He is an active speaker and workshop leader in these areas for families and financial service firms.
He is the author of the 2012 research study, Best Practices of Successful, Global, Multi-Generational Family Enterprises, and is now working on the second phase of that project, interviewing global families. His global focus has led to work with groups such as the Family Business Network, where he has worked with the Pacific Asia chapter to develop a program for next generation family members. 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. The Values Edge, an acclaimed tool for exploring personal, family and organizational values, using a deck of values cards to create a Values Pyramid, has helped many families learn about themselves. He is also co-creator of the Aspen Family Business Inventory, The Transition Curve, and other tools for assessment of family enterprise success.
Since 1981, he has been professor of Organizational Systems and Psychology at Saybrook University in San Francisco. He received his B.A. in Philosophy, M.A. in Management and Ph.D. in Sociology from Yale University. As a member of the Family Firm Institute since it was founded, 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, helping the region design a strategic plan for the future of entrepreneurial and family businesses. In 2010 he was a visiting professor at the undergraduate family business program of Stetson University.
Dennis is the author of a trio of books that are guides for members of family enterprises, including the 2010 book Stewardship of Your Family Enterprise: Developing Responsible Leadership Across Generations, as well as Working with the Ones You Love: Building a Successful Family Business; Working with Family Businesses: A Guide for Professional Advisors.
Dennis 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 has been a regular contributor to periodicals such as Families in Business, Private Wealth, Journal of Wealth Management, Worth and Family Business. In 2005 the Journal of Financial Planning named him for the Editor's Choice Award for his article on family business strategic planning.
He acted as an architect of the field of organizational change and development of change leadership. He has written a dozen influential management books, including Getting Your Organization to Change, Rekindling Commitment, Take This Job and Love it! and From Burnout to Balance. 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. For three years, he was co-editor of the magazine The Inner Edge, focusing on spirituality in business. He was deputy director for research at the MacArthur Foundation sponsored network for Healthy Companies from 1992-95. He was a co-founder of the web firm MemeStreams, which pioneered the use of online executive development tools. The 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.
Active as well in non-profit governance, he has served on the boards of the World Business Academy, Saybrook University, and the Center for Mind-Body Medicine.