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If Only Stakeholders Could Speak...

Updated: Mar 22

Obviously, your stakeholders not only can speak. They are speaking all the time. But have they been heard? Is your system designed to listen to some of the most consequential voices you have available to you? How does your organization know it listens, has listened will listen? Of course, the organization's answers to those questions are likely the least reliable. Only the stakeholders can truly answer whether their voice has been included in your plans, processes and outcomes.

Almost every organization could do a better job creating listening to the people most impacted by decisions and changes. In 2023, research conducted by [ XYZ, find] described the state of organizational listening. [Elaborate].

Worse than not listening, is not acting on what was gathered from doing so. If you want to know the recipe for cynicism (which itself is one-third of burnout's three-legged stool), just pretend to care, pretend to ask, pretend to listen to people who are on the desperate other side of needing your ear. Trust is squandered in these moments.

If you are looking for a way to distinguish your organization, your board, your leadership, there's a nimble shortcut: Ask. Ask the people with the least amount of power, but who will likely bear the biggest brunt of decisions. Then, ask some more -- ask representatives all along the chain of design, fulfillment, delivery and impact. Then, shape your plans as if you heard them all.

You protest: "That will take forever." It may. But so do repairs, cost overruns, angry social media complaints and brand annihilation (OK, went a little crazy there at the end...but cancel culture is real, and a 5-Star Morning can easily turn into a 1-Star evening when a team fails to get it right for the people who matter in their organization's slipstream).

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