If you’ve ever worked with the Clarus team on a project, you know very well that we deeply value the broad and diverse perspectives of a client’s stakeholders. We carefully design each project to ensure that stakeholder feedback is collected, analyzed, and discussed with our client for the purpose of informing a strategy’s development.
This process serves as a primer for future organizational change, as it readies each manager, frontline worker, or external partner who provided feedback to anticipate and support strategy implementation efforts. Both because it promotes buy-in and high-quality strategy development, we are tirelessly commitment to effective stakeholder engagement in the diagnostic phase of a project; it is a trademark of our work.
But here’s a question…have you ever seen us apply our methods to large-scale social issues, ones that are complex in nature and difficult to change?
Since 2012, Clarus has supported stakeholder engagement for Healthy Living Matters (HLM), a county-wide policy initiative to curb childhood obesity in Harris County, Texas (Houston). In the county, childhood obesity rates are soaring and the fragmented efforts to combat the issue reflect the complexity of addressing vital community health issues in populous and culturally diverse geographic areas.
In the face of this, the partners leading HLM narrowed their focus to public and private policies that can impact childhood obesity rates. They knew they would have to engage an array of stakeholder groups across the county to find answers. In other words, HLM was prepared to crowdsource a solution to this pressing public health challenge.
Whether we are helping a client identify the best strategy for aligning their workforce to support a major change or helping a community strengthen itself, our approach is the same. We focus on enabling meaningful micro-level engagement of stakeholders to collect their feedback and stimulate two-way dialogue and then we analyze the data to provide a macro-level characterization of an issue, opportunity, or challenge.
In the case of HLM, we have facilitated a plethora of microlevel engagements, across 13 different industries, which range from education and healthcare to legal and law enforcement. We have tailored interviews, surveys, focus groups, and community forums to engage the relevant communities. For example, our unique work to engage high school students led to commitments from HLM Youth Ambassadors who are working to further the mission of HLM.
We have meticulously collected and analyzed feedback and actively discussed our findings with HLM leadership. Soon, we will finalize a macro-level strategy for curbing childhood obesity in Harris County, Texas in the form of a Community Action Plan.
We can’t honestly tell you that effective stakeholder engagement is always easy. However, when well organized, it’s not that difficult either and the results in implementation and engagement are more than worth the investment. Effective stakeholder engagement requires considering a company or community issue from the systems-perspective. Identify all of the stakeholder groups in your system, those that are affected by or provide support for your outcomes. Learn more about the groups, proactively engage each, and sustain communication with them all.