Is stakeholder analysis part of your company’s year-end review?

As the year draws to a close, organisations are reflecting on their hits and misses in 2018; their key achievements, what they could have done better, and their goals and plans for the year ahead…
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By Casey Chua

As the year draws to a close, organisations are reflecting on their hits and misses in 2018; their key achievements, what they could have done better, and their goals and plans for the year ahead.

Many choose to focus on tangible financial outcomes for their year-end review, and justifiably so. Organisations, especially publicly listed ones, are expected to deliver returns to their shareholders, and it is only intuitive for them to look at figures, profit and loss statements, year-on-year growth, etc.

A comprehensive year-end review, however, involves much more than just dollars and cents.

It would be ill-advised to overlook and ignore the qualitative and human elements that shape business processes and outcomes. Organisations are largely aware that in today’s globalised world, their operating environment is shaped by a wide range of stakeholders that they may have scant knowledge of, and little influence over. In fact, some of these stakeholders may not even be apparent at first glance.

This is particularly relevant to the maritime industry, where the companies are typically part of a global shipping and offshore supply chain that involves many stakeholders within and outside of the maritime industry.

For example, for shipping companies that operate shipping routes across multiple jurisdictions, each route would have its own set of stakeholders: different customers, different ports and terminals and different regulators.

These forces and interactions in today’s globalised economy have raised the awareness that stakeholder analysis, in the context of crisis and stakeholder management, must be done regularly and through a global perspective.

It applies to not only the maritime industry but also to industries that operate transnationally and regularly interact with national, regional and international civil society organisations such as environmental protection groups, faith-based organisations, trade unions, etc.

Stakeholder mapping, as a subdiscipline of stakeholder analysis, provides clarity on whom the stakeholders are, where their priorities lie, what perspectives they may hold, and what kind of behaviour is expected from them.

By placing stakeholders in different classes and categories according to their levels of influence, their willingness to engage, their legitimacy, their vested interest, etc., stakeholder mapping helps organisations decide which are the best strategies to use when engaging them as part of crisis response, or when engaging them in peacetime pre-emptively.

Using Mendelow’s power-interest grid (see picture), organisations can identify stakeholders that have the potential to influence as well as stakeholders that are largely benign and apathetic. From a crisis management perspective, Mendelow’s power-interest grid helps organisations establish whom the likely decision-makers in a crisis will be, and the extent of power and influence that they can exert over other stakeholders.

It also guides organisations on which stakeholders should be kept regularly informed. Additionally, it may even forewarn organisations of problematic stakeholders.

At Navigate Response, we play an advisory role in our clients’ regular stakeholder analysis.

Through scenario planning, crisis drills and table-top exercises, we help our clients gain insight into the complex web of stakeholder interactions that continually shape the environment they operate in, both in peacetime and in crisis. Armed with that information, organisations are thus able to develop crisis action plans that are more resilient and relevant.

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