A stakeholder world

All organizations have multiple external stakeholders: NGOs, the 'unvoiced' (think Amazon rainforest), customers, suppliers, governments, shareholders and so on. Rather that designing organizations from the perspective of the organization itself – how about designing it from the perspective of one of its stakeholder groups. What would an organization do differently or organize differently if it were thinking from a supplier perspective for example?

Shareholders are increasingly only one part of an organization's consideration. Financial value is important but so are other expressions of value. The "customer experience" is one, "care of the environment" is another. All organizations have the ability to create stakeholder value beyond financial. What stops them doing it?

One reason is that they do not typically get the external stakeholders involved in the design or redesign of an organization. But having conversations and discussions on an 'outsider's' experiences of your organization and then enabling them to participate designing an organization that would work for them would yield good results.

Co-operatives are a partial example of stakeholder involvement. Although participants in a co-operative could be thought of as 'employees' they do have a voice in how the organization is run and share a stake in its success. Usually based on seven principles

1. Open membership – no gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination
2. Democratic control – one member, one vote
3. Equitable economic participation among members and distribution of profits based on patronage
4. Autonomy and independence – controlled by members
5. Education and training
6. Cooperation among cooperatives
7. Concern for community

There are many financially and socially successful co-operatives. US ones include Organic Valley and Isthmus Engineering is another. European ones include the John Lewis Partnership – the largest example of worker co-ownership in the UK, and Mondragon in Spain. India based Amul is another example of a profitable co-operative.

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