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Identifying Stakeholder Representatives For Interactive Planning

April 26, 2011 Leave a comment

One of the problems with attempting to include the input of all organizational stakeholders in planning and decision making relates to the shear size of the population, and the associated difficulty in reaching consensus on any given point or issue.  This challenge is particularly acute when Interactive Planning is undertaken because of its continuous planning ethos and its organization-wide relevance. This Blog demonstrates how legitimate stakeholder representatives may be identified and how, through these “opinion leaders”, stakeholder views may be presented and addressed. In addition, these representatives in turn help their constituents to understand and commit to plans developed through Interactive Planning e.g. for Triple Bottom Line (tbl) Sustainability.

Across an organization’s social fabric, individuals learn to trust each other and form groups capable of sense making and knowledge sharing. It’s not just ‘What you know’ (Human Capital) or even ‘Who you know’ (Relationship Capital) that ensures this inter-connectivity, it’s ‘Who you know well enough to trust for advice, or have confidence in to get things done efficiently and effectively’ (Social Capital).

Although there is no uniformly accepted definition of Social Capital (SC), its meaning in an organizational setting can be defined as “The resources, tangible or virtual, that accrue to a corporate player through the player’s social relationships, facilitating the attainment of goals.” Each individual’s relationships with other individuals in an organization form that individual’s SC for better or worse; close relationships enhance SC, whereas distrust and lack of openness cause low SC (sometimes termed Social Liability).

Some individuals in groups and communities achieve particularly elevated prestige or influence with their peers. They form core groups and their names come up time and again in their peers’ hearts and minds and stories, not so much because they have authority but rather because they have attained legitimacy. Individuals demonstrating such characteristics have accumulated considerable SC and are termed here “Opinion Leaders”. In a sense they assume archetypical characteristics within an organization through emergent stories and myths, or attain their status by matching existing ‘trust norms’. Opinion leaders are highly trusted as advisors by their colleagues for a variety of complex and often systemic reasons, e.g. personal attributes, expertise, knowledge, longevity, local deployment, power etc. They are frequently seen as removing risk from organizational situations by providing a positive evaluation of “local fit”.

Such influential individuals typically gain elevated SC by having well-developed meta-abilities such as excellent cognitive skills, self-knowledge, emotional resilience, and personal drive. The development of meta-abilities results in improved interpersonal influencing skills. This contributes to these individuals being more astute and insightful, able to make better judgments, and identify more alternative actions. This means that they can better navigate the typical complex and dynamic organizational reality and influence effectively within it. Opinion leaders usually have greater exposure to mass media, are more cosmopolitan, have more change agent contacts, have a higher socioeconomic status, participate more in their social system than their followers, and are especially important for interpersonal networks whose members differ in many aspects.

If an organization has identified its opinion leaders, these individuals may legitimately represent their constituent stakeholders regarding the stakeholders’ views, and contribute to Interactive Planning in their behalf. As noted above the opinion leaders have themselves personal characteristics that make them particularly well qualified to participate in planning activities.

Theory and means relevant to the identification of opinion leaders based on using Network Visualization Analysis (NVA) have been presented elsewhere. The identification method is very cost-effective and is highly recommended to represent appropriately the various stakeholders across an organization.

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Hiring Strategy for Developing TBL Sustainability and Supply Chain Viability

April 10, 2011 Leave a comment

In recent blogs I have underlined the radical changes in organizational thinking, design, and culture that are associated with developing Triple Bottom Line Sustainability. These changes are fundamental to the success of any plan for progressing toward TBL Sustainability. It is also evident from the extended discussion I have provided in a co-authored series of six bogs detailing the organizational conditions for addressing TBL Sustainability, that leadership and management characteristics are critically important for success. I have also explored the views on leadership of various generational cohorts in regard to emerging knowledge sharing (KS) organizations. It is clear from these data that for organizations embarking on, or already pursuing, TBL Sustainability and/or KS, the roles, thinking, and behaviors of leaders and managers will need to be re-tailored drastically to satisfy the demands of these increasingly popular strategies.

Whether existing leadership and management cadres have mindsets consistent with undergoing development to cultivate these appropriate new capabilities is a big question. Furthermore, conventional wisdom may work against the hiring of new individuals with appropriate skill sets since organizations typically seek to hire individuals who display capabilities consistent with those displayed by incumbents who have been successful in the past. This is a sourcing process that has worked well historically, but one that is a recipe for disaster when there is a change of era such as seems to be the case now.

There are a number of reasons to believe that we are indeed either transiting such a change of era, or are already immersed in the early phases of the new one. Just as water power facilitated the emergence of the industrial era, so the ubiquitous penetration of digitization into all aspects of business and social life is facilitating emergence of a new social-networked era.  The focus of the industrial era was profit; the emerging focus of this new era is stewardship and TBL Sustainability. Resourcing for any management level of an organization must take into account not only in-depth familiarity with all of the digital platforms and their properties, but in addition the impact of their usage on organizational design and social interaction. This is a difficult problem when filling senior levels of an organization, since this typically entails hiring cohorts of individuals over 30 years of age, and such cohorts exhibit less and less familiarity and understanding of the current digital and social know-how with advancing age.

A further question relates to inter-organizational collaboration and regard. For instance, in a previous blog I explored the need for promotion of socialization both within and between the members of supply-chains. How will such relationships be affected by the leadership and workforce capabilities explored in previous paragraphs? Will a sophisticated organization following a TBL Sustainability and/or KS strategy be willing to include in its supply chain an organization backward in any of the respects discussed above? And if it did, what would its stakeholders have to say about it, and would its governance be influenced?

We are in a business era that moves at breakneck speed, and it is not too soon for forward-looking organizations to think about the notions touched on here. Indeed, if these notions indicate a fundamental change in hiring and development to provide longer-term tenure for young people to mature their leadership and management capabilities to match their already significant digital and social acumen, then the sooner an organization starts to address this issue, the better off it will be.