July 2014 | Nano Tools | Leadership
Nano Tools for Leaders® are fast, effective leadership tools that you can learn and start using in less than 15 minutes — with the potential to significantly impact your success as a leader and the engagement and productivity of the people you lead.
Contributor: Witold Henisz, PhD; author of Corporate Diplomacy: Building Reputations and Relationships with External Stakeholders; and Deloitte & Touche Professor of Management, in Honor of Russell E. Palmer, former Managing Partner; The Wharton School
Identify key external stakeholders so you can build a reputation and relationships with them.
Doing business in an unfamiliar market exposes you to numerous risks. Understanding what they might be and anticipating them is key to minimizing the threats they represent. Stakeholder mapping helps you aggregate and visualize information about key and potential stakeholders so you can answer these critical questions:
Once compiled, a stakeholder database allows you to see not only the current stakeholder landscape, but also the likely future evolution of that landscape. But of course no matter how good your stakeholder data and modeling, the personal side matters, too. Expect to modify your plans once you’ve begun operating in a new environment. Learning and adaptation are always required. So is a communication strategy to introduce your firm to a new audience, publicize your plans, and persuade people of your good intentions. A committed team of employees will be needed to execute those plans. Due Diligence is essential, but it’s just one element of an integrated approach to corporate diplomacy.
AngloGold Ashanti hired PRIMA LLC and Boutilier & Associates to help them build a stakeholder database using this process for seven mine sites in six countries across Continental Africa. At each mine site, a local team of interviewers who spoke the local language and knew the region and its customs conducted one-hour interviews with 75-150 stakeholders at each mine site who were identified either by AngloGold Ashanti or suggested by other stakeholders.
These interviews began with open-ended questions such as, “Which are the most important concerns for your community/organization right now?,” “How does the project affect your group?,” and “Which changes or improvements to the project would you like to see?” Interviewers also asked about stakeholders’ degree of support for the mine, whether they offered a social license to operate (i.e., whether they believed the mine to be acceptable at that moment), time they spent on issues related to the mine, which other stakeholders the interviewee may have consulted or coordinated activity with, and whether they knew of additional stakeholders who should also be interviewed.
From the interview responses, quantitative data was extracted that could answer the questions “Which stakeholders withhold or restrict the social license to operate?” and “What are stakeholders’ main issues of concern?” In a future Nano Tool, we will describe how AngloGold Ashanti used this information in the development of site-level stakeholder engagement strategies that prioritized specific stakeholders and issues and identified potential stakeholder partnerships in the implementation of these strategies.
Tap into sources such as social and traditional media, expert assessments, and in-depth stakeholder interviews to create a map of your stakeholders. In addition, many companies already have information on stakeholders’ identities, power, positions, preferences, and connections but fail to link that information to engagement efforts. Complaints or grievances recorded in phone calls, emails or in-person conversations can be analyzed using techniques like those described for media. Where those communications are made jointly or identically by multiple stakeholders, connections and cooperation can be inferred.
Some information can be accessed quickly, like news articles available online. Others, like the information on social relationships, will require more time and money to collect. Either way, reliability increases with effort expended.
Use the following steps to create your stakeholder map:
By creating an accurate stakeholder map, you and your team can build the relationships and reputations you need to make rapid progress on the projects you lead.
Nano Tools for Leaders® was conceived and developed by Deb Giffen, MCC, Director of Innovative Learning Solutions at Wharton Executive Education. It is jointly sponsored by Wharton Executive Education and Wharton’s Center for Leadership and Change Management, Wharton Professor of Management Michael Useem, Director. Nano Tools’ Academic Director is John Paul MacDuffie, Wharton Associate Professor of Management, and Director of the Program on Vehicle and Mobility Innovation (PVMI) at Wharton’s Mack Institute for Innovation Management.
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