Family businesses can be quite powerful, as seen with the legendary Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) and Motorola (NYSE:MOT). However, transitioning such businesses to a new management is often fraught with risk, as HP can attest.

But Motorola appears to be another story. In January 2004, Ed Zander took the CEO spot from a family member. Prior to this, he was the COO of Sun Microsystems (NASDAQ:SUNW). Zander wasted little time in making changes. He restructured; he improved operations; and most importantly, he introduced innovative products. While Motorola has a solid history of strong engineering, design was certainly not its forte. But as mobile devices become more of a commodity, the cool factor can be an important differentiator. To that end, Motorola's new Razr V3 handset is winning raves for its sleek design and sold a cool 1.2 million units in the first quarter of 2005. As a result, Motorola is putting market share pressure on the No. 1 handset player, Nokia (NYSE:NOK).

But coolness is not Zander's only focus. This week, shareholders got a glimpse at his plans to increase shareholder value. The company announced that the board authorized the repurchase of $4 billion in common stock over a 36-month period. This represents roughly 10% of the company's market cap. And interestingly enough, this is the first time in Motorola's 77-year history that it has instituted a repurchase program.

Now, this is not an admission that there are no more growth opportunities for Motorola. The company has $11.3 billion in short-term investments and cash equivalents. What's more, it continues to generate strong cash flows.

But there is something else encouraging here; that is, by giving back money to shareholders, there is less temptation to make a massive acquisition. Given that the history of big tech acquisitions is spotty at best (with the most prominent disaster being the HP and Compaq combination), that's probably a good thing. Instead, Zander appears to be growing his business with R&D and other initiatives, and making sure any excess goes back to shareholders. And that's always in style.

Fool contributor TomTaulli does not own shares mentioned in this article.