A recent report by Goldman Sachs reported that economic growth in the BRIC countries will be impacted by the fact that young people will have to look more and more after older people. Estimates show that there will be a 46% increase in these countries of people over the ages of 65.
This information reminded me of reading the Commissioner’s report on Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans where it was mentioned that one of the stakeholder groups Emergency Teams were not equipped and prepared to deal with was old people – most not in the medical system. Disaster staff reported dealing with bed ridden old and frail people.
Due to world-wide advances in health care, people will tend to live longer than the median age. More and More reports are showing that many people will not be able to retire and live off their pensions.
This raises interesting thoughts for Stakeholder Managers, for instance:
- How do we look after these people?
- How do we make use of their experiences and knowledge?
- What are their preferred needs and wants?
- Their preferred communication methods?
Viewing it from another angle it also raises interesting angles for Universities. Your alumni will get older and will need to be kept in the fold.
There is also this fallacy that all people want to retire and live happily ever after. In the early 80’s I managed a Mentorship Scheme for the Small Business Development Corporation where we used retired executives to do small business management consultations and act as advisors to entrepreneurs (Similar to the US SCORE program). I recall working with a retired Swiss CEO called Werner Freund. He was as sharp as ever at 72 and I learned more from him in a year than I learnt in my studies.
These are the type of people who we need to embrace and use. They can be a useful resource if you think strategically about it.
I would also recommend that you visit the Department of Social Development’s website for updated information such as this report deals with the rights of older people.
Every decision that an organisation must make has four broad sets of implications. The obvious three sets of implications are operational, financial and legal.
- Is it legal?
- How much will it cost?
- Can we implement it?
The fourth set of implications is generally either ignored, delegated or included in the process only on the basis of the "gut instinct" of one of the participants.
This fourth set of implications is reputational.
The reputational implications of a business decision can be defined as those that impact the way in which an organization is regarded by those with whom it interacts, including shareholders, customers and employees, as well as suppliers, government regulators, the media and even competitors (and any other stakeholder).
Any organisation is dependent on its stakeholders for support and the strategic importance of any stakeholder depends on how dependent the organisation is upon it. And this relationship can change over a period of time or due to indiscretions.
It is important to realise that a decision has reputational implications if it has the potential to affect the relationship between the company and any of these stakeholders. In other words, it is difficult to think of a decision that does not have reputational implications.
Reputation, most managers today would agree, is an asset, even if only a perceptual asset (or, if mismanaged, a liability). It certainly is not optional. Every corporation, organization, institution, individual has a reputation. The only option is whether to manage it or allow it to be inferred.
If it is to add value, it should be managed with the same care and attention as any asset. It should be obvious that if a decision has four broad sets of implications, and only three are formally and routinely considered, the potential exists for flawed decision making.
After all, the role of a manager is to manage all the assets under his or her control effectively. Tangibles and Intangibles.
Research has clearly shown that risk increases in patterns of decisionmaking. Those patterns can often easily observed in a boardroom situation. This risk increases when there is a lack of asking these types of questions:
- Who are our stakeholders? (This is not a given. Stakeholders change position based on interest or need)
- What are our stakeholders’ stakes? (Is it legal, moral, economic, public interest or self – interest?)
- What opportunities and challenges do stakeholders present?
- What economic, legal, ethical, and social responsibilities does our organisation have?
- What strategies or actions should we take to best manage stakeholder challenges and opportunities?
- Do we have a system for managing relationships with stakeholders?
- How do we measure results? What metrics do we use to assess and gauge stakeholder relationships?
- In a crisis how quickly can we communicate with our relevant stakeholders?
- Do we know the various methods to engage with stakeholders and when not to use it?
- Do we know how much we are spending on each stakeholder group and what the ROI is?
- Have we developed a set of rules and guidelines on how best to manage the process of building stakeholder reputation with each stakeholder group?
Unless you can answer these questions, you cannot assess the fourth set of implication of a decision, and your decisions will at best remain skewed.
The question I want to ask is whether managers will make certain decisions if they have been sensitised to the answers to these questions?
(To learn the answers to these questions and many more, attend the Stakeholder Reputation Master Class at the Hotel Apollo in Randburg from the 20th – 21st January 2010. Go to http://stakeholderreputation.invite43.com/ or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for a brochure and registration form)
Want to learn more about Stakeholder Reputation Management? Then start to use your eyes and a scissors! What do I mean?
The Afrikaans newspaper, the Beeld today ran an an article called ‘Zuma bekoor Afrikaners’. On the right side of Mr Zuma’s face there is a block that contains a list of all the stakeholders that attended the meeting, as follows:
- Boerevolk Verteenwoordigende Raad
- Dames Aktueel,
- Jong Dames Dinamiek
- Gereformeerde Kerk
- NG kerk
- Orania beweging
- TLU SA
- Die Suid- Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns en die
Some of these stakeholders might one day feature in your planning. Have you done research about them? Do you know what these groups expectations and issues are that might impact on your organization and its reputation?
Time to get going! Do you know why this type of R & D is important?
Next time you read an article, think about the people and groups mentioned. Should they be on my list of contacts? Should I engage them? Should I inform them about my existence?
Salespeople call this identifying contacts, but from a Stakeholder Management perspective, it is a vital exercise.