Stoos Network (part 2): Stakeholders & Personas

"Who is our customer?"

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?"

Many Stakeholders

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…

  1. CEO's, top management (o x)
  2. Middle management (oooo xxxx)
  3. Support, HR, Legal, Operations (xx)
  4. Employees, knowledge workers (oooo xx)
  5. Customers, end users (oo)
  6. Business schools, teachers (oo xxxx)
  7. Students, "new millennials" (oo xx)
  8. Shareholders, business owners
  9. Startups, entrepreneurs (oo xxxxx)
  10. 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).

More Stakeholders

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:

  1. Management institutes & networks
  2. Coaches, consultants & writers
  3. Communities, social network groups
  4. Governments, law makers 
  5. Suppliers
  6. Media, journalists

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…

  1. Did we miss any stakeholders of organizational transformation?
  2. Have there been earlier attempts at defining stakeholders?
  3. Are there other useful ways of categorizing stakeholders?
  4. Would it be useful to define personas for organizational change?
  5. 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.

Tomorrow: Stoos Network (part 3): Core Idea

Yesterday:  Stoos Network (part 1): About Communication

For more information: Stoos Network website, Stoos Network group

  • Stoos Network (part 1): About Communication
  • Stoos Network (part 3): Core Idea
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  • Deborah Hartmann Preuss

    Another stakeholder group: Let’s not forget the families that lose out when family members in management are overworked due to micromanagement, operating in Hero Mode, burned-out etc.

  • Anko Tijman

    Stakeholders as persona’s – I really like that idea! Would like to work on that more (but preferably not alone 😉 )

  • Niels Pflaeging

    Some stakeholders are missing indeed in the lists. Two that come to mind:
    – Unions/Employee representatives
    – Boards/Board members
    – Professional associations/certifiers
    – Training firms/trainers
    It´s also worth reflecting about the fact that, ultimately, these are just ROLES. and that these roles are held by actual people who fill in multiple roles at a time: Many of us hold 4, 5, 6 roles, or more actually…

  • Niels Pflaeging

    Oh, yet two other groups:
    – Market analysts
    – Accouting firms/accountants

  • Jurgen Appelo

    That would be great! It would be great if we can find a 3rd person to join us.

  • Jay Cross

    There’s a particular group of stakeholders we probably need to highlight: Change Agents.
    Over dinner, a few of us talked about the sorts of organizations most likely to be able to break through the tyranny of slavish obedience to maximizing shareholder value. Among the candidates: NGOs, pension funds, private companies, start-ups.
    Pension funds could be particularly important. They invest for the long haul, not the quarterly earning report. They own a major portion of the stock market. And poor returns from corporations are trashing their investment returns.

  • cuan mulligan

    can we every really identify all stakeholders, are the stakeholders not defined by their interest to change, to see a new way ?
    As part of a leadership course I am doing, we talk about focusing on the Particles or the Space…when we focus on the particles, it can get sticky and slow, the space, which is what I feel called the 21 to meet in the first place, is where the answer is.
    I am not sure, but i dont think any stakeholders asked for the gathering…yet the gathering happened, is critical to things changing…
    I dont have the answer either, and maybe its a fair way to get going, as its what we know…but something feels incongruent with what I perceive is the essence of the wave of change

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