This was one of the first questions to pop up during the gathering in Stoos. "Which people are our target audience?” and “Who else is involved?" Or in other words:
"Who are the stakeholders in organizational transformation?"
One of my first contributions during the event was to organize a session about the stakeholders. The participants (about one third of the whole group) discussed this topic for about 30 minutes, and we came up with the following initial list of stakeholders. It turns out there are many…
CEO's, top management (o x)
Middle management (oooo xxxx)
Support, HR, Legal, Operations (xx)
Employees, knowledge workers (oooo xx)
Customers, end users (oo)
Business schools, teachers (oo xxxx)
Students, "new millennials" (oo xx)
Shareholders, business owners
Startups, entrepreneurs (oo xxxxx)
Local/regional communities (o x)
Two times in our discussion we used dot voting to see which of these stakeholders we thought were the most important ones to focus on. (We allowed three votes per person.) The results the first time (halfway through our discussion, annotated with o) were different from the second time (at the end of our discussion, annotated with x).
I realize this outcome was nothing more than a first draft. But it was a useful result, since we referred to it several times in subsequent discussions. But since then, during the rest of the Stoos event and later, I identified several stakeholders we missed in the first iteration:
Management institutes & networks
Coaches, consultants & writers
Communities, social network groups
Governments, law makers
This already adds up to 16 groups of stakeholders of organizational transformation. And I'm sure we missed a few more.
Categories and Personas
Some have suggested that we can categorize stakeholders in different ways. For example, among each of the groups mentioned above there are people who "get it" and people who "don't". Yet another categorization is according to type of industry. The finance and government sectors breed entirely different communities of stakeholders than Internet and media businesses.
The importance of recognizing groups of stakeholders lies in the fact that any approach to change must depend on the needs of stakeholders. For different groups we must be able to answer the question, "what's in it for me?" For example, the message of “trust and transparency” works well among knowledge workers. But many shareholders care about return on investment, rather than return on transparency.
That's why I wondered out loud if maybe we should turn the list of stakeholders into descriptions of personas, as some people do in product development. But the time available in our Stoos event didn't allow us to go that deep.
Feedback and Next Steps
And now, at the end of our first “sprint”, I would love your feedback…
Did we miss any stakeholders of organizational transformation?
Have there been earlier attempts at defining stakeholders?
Are there other useful ways of categorizing stakeholders?
Would it be useful to define personas for organizational change?
Are there any stakeholders we should ignore, for now?
Based on your feedback I would like to discuss with the original Stoos team how to proceed. Hopefully some next steps can be made in the wider Stoos network, in terms of developing personas and writing user stories.