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Here's one type of "stakeholder"...

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

This is the fourth article in this mini-series trying to resurrect some of the worst, most overused management clichés out there, by trying to extract their real meaning - something that is often forgotten now they've become generic terms bandied about willy-nilly.

Earlier articles in the series have been:

It was the latter of these that inspired this article on stakeholders. "Win-win" is often extended to "win-win-win" to include you, your customer, and other of these mysterious, unidentified things called stakeholders. My hackles tend to rise as soon as I hear or see the word...

I think the reason for my (perhaps unnecessarily strong) reaction is often related to the people who use it and the context in which it is used. When I imagine a meeting being held to make an important decision, I imagine stakeholder(s) being used in the following ways:

The problem with my "hackles up" reaction (and my desire to put a stake through anyone who uses the phrase) is that, of course, you should take a rounded view of the impact of your decisions. Indeed, I wrote back here in November 2009 about the critical importance in decision making about understanding and reflecting on the broad consequences of decision making. It's as essential, in making smart decisions, to take a broad view of the consequences as it is to actually crack on and make the decision; a balance needs to be struck.

To try and rehabilitate this management cliché then, I suggest the following:

As will all of these clichés, there is some value in it. We just need to work harder to extract true meaning from the shorthand.

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