Stakeholder Engagement — a Continuum from Stakeholder Inclusion to Stakeholder Discrimination

You absolutely know when your group can get much better results. Why aren’t you achieving the results you know you can?

There might be incremental changes you can make to remove basic inefficiencies.  For example, simple steps in project management, time management, process organization, or agenda setting might help.

There might be strategic changes you can make to prioritize focus areas. For example, do we continue, stop, or pivot in the ways that we drive value for our customers and employees?

There might also be systemic changes you can make to shift from working against the dynamics of the existing system to working with the dynamics of the system that you want.  For example, you could (1) define your deeper shared purpose, (2) map the ecosystem dynamics generating the system outcomes you are experiencing, and (3) map the degree of inclusion of the stakeholders who directly influence those ecosystem dynamics. You would find that some of your stakeholders and the ecosystem dynamics they influence are deeply included in your current understanding and work, while many ecosystem-critical stakeholders and dynamics are not.

The key lesson here is that a low degree of inclusion (Latin for enclosed, closed in) = discrimination (Latin for to separate away from).  By not including them, consciously and explicitly, you are excluding them.  This weights the value of their contribution as zero, which is the only value that is not possible, given that they are an ecosystem-critical stakeholder.  They influence your ecosystem and, therefore, its dynamics and outcomes.  A systemic change would be to explicitly include them in your understanding of ecosystem dynamics, outcomes, and strategic relationships.

Stakeholder engagement–engaging those who directly influence your ecosystem dynamics and outcomes–is a continuum from stakeholder inclusion to stakeholder discrimination.  This gives you 3 strategic choices.  The first choice is to see it. The second choice is to understand it. The third choice is to do something about it. This might be the systemic change that will allow you to finally achieve the outcomes that you know are available to your group.