In Part I of this series, I examined a portion of a framework for making decisions that match the real needs of the organization. I call such decision-making processes congruent, because the resulting decisions fit the organization. That first part of the framework provides guidance to organizational leaders to ensure consideration of the needs and concerns of all stakeholders. That's fine as far as it goes, but it assumes that stakeholders want to — and know how to — express their needs and concerns, if given the opportunity. In this Part II, I offer a framework for stakeholders to guide them in expressing their needs and concerns in a complete and forthright manner.
This second part of the framework is important, because incongruent decisions can result even if the stakeholders or their representatives are free to express their concerns. For example, if stakeholders ask for more than they need in order to have "room to negotiate" then they deprive the decision-making team of access to the stakeholders' true concerns.
Here are four criteria that stakeholders or their representatives can use to express their concerns in ways that support congruent decision making.
- Stakeholders express their own true concerns
- Each class of stakeholders has its own concerns, independent of the concerns of others. While it's true that a given stakeholder's concerns might conflict with the concerns of other stakeholders, the decision makers' task is to resolve such conflicts, balancing conflicting concerns. They can carry out that task effectively only if they understand the true concerns of all stakeholders.
- Stakeholders honor the concerns of other stakeholders
- Stakeholders or their representatives who express their understanding of the concerns of other stakeholders provide invaluable assistance to decision makers. Decision makers almost inevitably must balance conflicting concerns. Understanding how different stakeholders see the concerns of other stakeholders is essential to this balancing process. For example, if one set of stakeholders harbors a mistaken view of the concerns of a second set of stakeholders, decision makers can clarify and resolve the misunderstanding only if they know about it.
- Every Incongruent decisions can result
even if the stakeholders or their
representatives are free
to express their concernsstakeholder has a legitimate role relative to the mission of the enterprise. In expressing their own concerns, stakeholders must honor the roles of other stakeholders appropriately.
- Stakeholders honor the concerns of the enterprise
- The stakeholders in the decision in question have a relationship with the enterprise as a whole. Stakeholders' understanding of the concerns of the enterprise is useful data for decision makers.
- The enterprise has concerns independent of the direct concerns of any of the stakeholders in the decision in question. Enterprise leadership must make decisions that balance stakeholder concerns, even when those stakeholder concerns are in direct conflict with each other or with the concerns of the enterprise. Stakeholders in the decisions in question must be aware of enterprise concerns, and they must express their understanding of those concerns to decision makers.
- Stakeholders honor society's concerns
- Society at large also has concerns, but in most cases, society has no means of expressing them as part of the decision process. When we express our own concerns to decision makers, we must take society's concerns into account. For example, we want our actions to be in compliance with the law, and with societal norms. We might have concerns for the locale, for our nation, or for the global environment.
Finally, decision makers are stakeholders too. Congruence in decision-making processes requires that decision makers assume responsibility for their decisions, but they cannot be responsible for incongruence of the stakeholders. When other stakeholders mislead or manipulate decision makers, they show disregard for decision makers as people, and incongruent decisions can result. First in this series Top Next Issue
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More articles on Workplace Politics:
- Stonewalling: I
- Stonewalling is a tactic of obstruction used by those who wish to stall the forward progress of some
effort. Whether the effort is a rival project, an investigation, or just the work of a colleague, the
stonewaller hopes to gain advantage. What can you do about stonewalling?
- Stonewalling: II
- Stonewalling is a tactic of obstruction. Some less sophisticated tactics rely on misrepresentation to
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- Kinds of Organizational Authority: the Informal
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- How to Stop Being Overworked: I
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- That Was a Yes-or-No Question: I
- In tense situations, one person might question another. As the respondent replies, the questioner interjects,
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Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming December 7: Reaching Agreements in Technological Contexts
- Reaching consensus in technological contexts presents special challenges. Problems can arise from interactions between the technological elements of the issue at hand, and the social dynamics of the group addressing that issue. Here are three examples. Available here and by RSS on December 7.
- And on December 14: Straw Man Variants
- The straw man fallacy is a famous rhetorical fallacy. Using it distorts debate and can lead groups to reach faulty conclusions. It's ad readily recognized, but it has some variants that are more difficult to spot. When unnoticed, trouble looms. Available here and by RSS on December 14.
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