You might think that only the “senior” people in your organization feel like they have a “stake” in its current operations and future. You would be wrong.
I have heard all of the excuses.
“They don’t know enough about the substance of the issues to provide input.”
“They don’t really care.”
“We already know what they think.”
Wrong, Wrong, and Wrong.
There are many different categories of stakeholders. They could be customers, suppliers, employees, shareholders, community members, and more. If someone “feels” that they have a “stake” in your organization’s future – then you should provide them with the opportunity for input into major decisions – certainly this includes your strategic planning efforts.
Involving stakeholders is the right thing to do and the smart thing to do.
For sure, not everyone will have great ideas – but the same can be said about “senior” people. And sometimes brilliant ideas will come from voices you would least suspect.
You might think that people do not care, but you could be shocked at how much more engaged they can become when they are asked to participate in meaningful ways.
And what if you actually do not learn anything new when you cast the net widely for input? At least you have respected the role of the stakeholders in the process and – here is an important learning – the support and participation of all stakeholder groups is usually vital to the implementation success of any decision. They are more likely to be actively supportive if they were involved.
Once involved, some people will give their heart and soul to make an effort successful. An organization I know of once asked line staff to elect three representatives to the strategic planning committee. After every meeting the reps held town halls with all employees to explain what was happening and ask for input. By the end of the process, there was more than “buy-in,” there was active, enthusiastic participation in making sure the strategy was successful.
A culture of meaningful involvement of stakeholders on a continual basis – not just episodic – can be transformational for an organization.