Ford uses a process called stakeholder mapping to create a physical display of the groups involved in a public dialogue about the company. The stakeholder map fits on a computer screen or a wall board and shows who influences, or should influence, the company and what issues most concern them.
In “The Art of Corporate Listening” (Bloomberg BusinessWeek, May 11, 2010), Peter Firestein writes about how a good stakeholder map displays not only the issues that concern each stakeholder group, but it clusters the groups by shared interests. In Baldrige language, this would be stakeholder requirements instead of issues and the list of groups would likely be different. Firestein mentions investors, NGOs, communities, regulators, and news reporters. It seems to me that customers and employees are major key influencers that certainly participate in the public dialogue about a company.
I think Firestein is exactly right when he states that the “most powerful part of stakeholder map-building is the culture change it brings to the management team. They must commit to becoming the source of the map’s content, and the only way they can fulfill that commitment is by engaging actively with the company’s stakeholders. Such engagement sensitizes them to external attitudes about the company.”
In the Organizational Profile of the Baldrige Criteria, one area to address asks about this specific issue:
- What are your key stakeholder groups?
- What are their key requirements and expectations of your products, customer support services, and operations?
- What are the differences in these requirements and expectations among stakeholder groups?
It sounds like a stakeholder map would go a long way toward answering these questions while demonstrating a high level of sophistication about stakeholder requirements. I look forward to seeing the first Baldrige Award winner to embrace the idea.
To read more about stakeholder requirements, click on these articles: