“Hey, we’re starting the Operational Excellence initiative, and you’ve been identified as a stakeholder!”
Immediately, the defense systems go up:
- What am I going to have to do?
- I’m overloaded already, I don’t have time to be a stakeholder.
- Hey, I’m not even in Production, why am I a stakeholder?
So, what is a stakeholder?
For an OpEx initiative, the word “stakeholder” signifies any person or team who can contribute to the company’s success or failure, or who may benefit from its success, or be damaged by its failure. Stakeholders are individuals or teams without whose support the Operational Excellence deployment would struggle to succeed.
Think of the Operational Excellence initiative as a stone thrown into a lake, causing ripples to form from the point of impact. The teams at the first ripple, closest to the point of entry, will experience the greatest impact, those are usually the production, maintenance, and warehouse teams.
But there is still another significant ripple moving outward, and it encompasses the scheduling, quality, and safety teams. The ripples continue to spread outward, and now include customer service, line managers, union managers, human resources, plant facilities, suppliers and engineering teams. Finally, the ripples may reach other functional teams, such as sales, or sister sites or global teams, or even external resources.
What is stakeholder management?
Stakeholder management looks solely at the human component of the deployment, more specifically, at the human behavioral component. Stakeholder management begins with the determination of who the stakeholders are, continues with a rigorous assessment of how they might be impacted, and results in a stakeholder engagement plan; that is, how the deployment team can keep stakeholders engaged and supportive of the deployment.
Stakeholder engagement is a continuous process of communication, which seeks connection through dialogue and true partnerships, and leads to collaboration and deployment success. It is important to create an engagement plan that is sensitive to all stakeholder needs, that communicates the progress of the initiative, that provides a formal process to escalate stakeholder concerns, and that includes a change management component.
Successful engagement with stakeholders will ensure that the perception of the OpEx deployment is as highly regarded as the OpEx deployment results.
Why do we need to actively manage the stakeholders?
- It maintains the focus on the business relationships that matter most to the achievement of the OpEx goals.
- It reveals new ideas and hidden constraints from across the organization.
- It enables and supports employee engagement, and therefore, buy-in, with the process.
- It provides a forum to resolve conflicts between different stakeholder groups.
- To monitor stakeholders that are resistant to the change.
- To reap the benefits from collaboration across individuals and teams.
How do we manage stakeholders?
A good charter already has the stakeholders identified; however, lacking a charter, it is possible to use the organization chart as a starting point in the stakeholder dialogue. Stakeholder workshops will detail what each stakeholder group may gain or lose from the deployment, and will consider real gains and losses as well as perceived gains and losses.
The degree of impact and influence of each stakeholder is evaluated, and a matrix developed, to allow the leadership team to prioritize its management efforts. Finally, the workshop also provides an opportunity to identify and communicate what the deployment team needs and wants from each stakeholder group in order to be successful.
“No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra.” - H.E. Luccock