Engaging with stakeholders is crucial to the success of any organisation.
To succeed, an organisation must have a clear vision derived from a robust strategic planning process, and an effective strategic plan or marketing plan can only come from stakeholder engagement.
Key stakeholder opinions and insights are incredibly valuable in the early stages of the planning and development processes. Robust consultation adds insight into the operating environment, the marketplace, trends, user / customer need, and growth opportunities, as well as to a vision of the organisation’s future.
Effective engagement helps translate stakeholder needs into organisational goals and creates the basis of effective strategy development. Discovering the point of consensus or shared motivation helps a group of stakeholders to arrive at a decision and ensures an investment in a meaningful outcome. Indeed, without internal alignment you cannot build an effective strategy or implement change.
Stakeholders can differ depending on the business or organisation. They can include employees, customers, suppliers, shareholders, regulatory or government agencies, boards of directors, and business owners. Each has a unique perspective about what it will take for the organisation to succeed. For example, internal stakeholders, like employees, know the strengths and weaknesses of the organisation from the ground up, and have first-hand knowledge of what it takes to deliver. External stakeholders will have a different, but equally valuable, perspective about how the organisation and its operations impact them.
A shared understanding is essential to building a cohesive vision for the future. We bring value to the strategic and marketing planning process by implementing an active consultation and engagement process and providing an open forum for discussion and debate. We help to align, impartially and objectively, an organisation around a common vision and make recommendations on how the future ambition can be best achieved.
How do we engage stakeholders?
In our experience, to build and support ongoing engagement in the strategic and marketing planning and implementation processes, there are three important things to remember:
- Clear, consistent communication
For a project to be successful all parties need to have a clear understanding of the process and the objectives. Information needs to be shared in a purposeful and consistent way throughout each stage of the project. Internal and external stakeholders need to understand the vision and the part they individually play in meeting the organisation’s goals.
- Outline the engagement required from stakeholders.
Map out the process along with key milestones where stakeholder engagement will be needed and why it is valuable. Arrange a series of interactive engagements where stakeholders can be included in discussion and debate. Greater understanding leads to greater ownership so consistently reinforce shared ideas and common goals, and give feedback throughout the process.
- Build the project around the engagement
Many projects can fail to live up to their potential because the stakeholder engagement was not recognised as an integral part of the process. Stakeholder engagement, from the outset, helps build involvement and a sense of continuation to a new future. Allow adequate time and planning to include all relevant parties and to allow them to discuss, understand and internalise each project milestone or step in the process. Stakeholders who do not understand the plan have a difficult time remaining engaged and moving in the desired direction later.
The benefits of stakeholder engagement.
- It offers those who will affect or be affected by the outcomes a chance to voice their opinions
- It ensures that an organisation has greater clarity and a shared vision amongst its key influencers
- It enables an organisation to identify who their key stakeholders are and understand the relationship they have with the organisation
- It brings people together to pool knowledge, experience, and expertise to co-create solutions
- It helps build collaborative partnerships and new relationships that generate value
- It can identify strategies to gain competitive advantage
- It helps to reduce the level of risk within an organisation and improves governance