Can you imagine what transpired in the lead up to the USA’s worst ever environmental disaster. A sequence of unfortunate and unplanned events, was it aging or overstretched hardware; perhaps a workforce silenced by the fear of losing their jobs? Or was it caused by production volumes being held holy, ahead of everything else?
If I was to guess, I’d say the explosion and subsequent spill was caused by a combination of things enabled by a tendency for overlooking stakeholder feedback. Events like this remind me to nudge my clients to review the feedback from their stakeholders. Are they potentially missing out on important information about the reality of their business?
Due to the rapid discontinuous change of our times, more than ever before; the success of business is dependent on how we manage stakeholder relationships (an important business asset) and the feedback they provide. Through relationship comes synergy, effort beyond the expected, good will, the inside running on opportunities and of course, exposure to ‘reality’.
Where to look?
Who are your most important stakeholders? Are they: employees, customers, suppliers, the board, government agencies, regulators, the union or the press? All of which can hold a piece of the profitability puzzle.
Take strategic action:
- List your top five stakeholders and rate (out of 10) the relationship you have with them. Use your intuition whilst doing this, what is the current state of health with these relationships?
- Be strategic by setting up a profitable future for your business by building better relationships with these stakeholders. Pick up the phone and set up meetings to build the dialogue between you and your key stakeholder groups.
- The hard work can be facing ‘the reality’ of relationships, as they can sometimes feel messy, ambiguous and unpredictable. Remember to listen to your stakeholders – it’s the best way to endear them to you and your strategic aims. Once they’ve finished talking, share your thoughts and feelings and engage them with an achievement focussed, two way dialogue.
The alternative is to be overly rational and to only focus on the tangibles of your business, the things you can see and touch. Was BP too focussed on short term production outputs and did they miss important feedback from concerned employees and other stakeholders? I look forward to the investigators report to find out.