Understanding what particular stakeholder groups really think, and how your relationship with them can best work
Perception is all. Stakeholders make decisions and take action based entirely on their perceptions, and not on some (to them) abstract truth. If an organisation doesn’t understand these perceptions, what causes them and what impact they have, it cannot hope to influence them. A tick-box survey, which is the most that most organisations have, raises more questions than it answers.
I design and deliver studies of particular stakeholder groups to gain a real insight into their perceptions. The techniques I use vary according to my clients’ specific needs. They include:
- structured interviews;
- more informal individual and group discussions;
- formal focus groups;
- survey follow-up.
In all cases my aim is to see under the surface of the organisation / stakeholder relationship and decode the influences at play. It is best to study both sides of the relationship to the same depth. This helps to uncover mismatches in perception and understanding between the two.