Monday, April 21, 2008

Who are your stakeholders?

Maybe we should start with "WHAT is a stakeholder?"

Here’s my definition:

A stakeholder is anyone who has an involvement or interest in your life such that your futures may impact each other.

“..such that your futures may impact each other.” That means that events in your life may impact the stakeholder, and events in the stakeholder’s life may impact your future.

Now we can get back to the WHO. Obvious stakeholders in your life are your spouse, your children, your parents and your spouse’s parents. If you have grandchildren, they are certainly stakeholders. Siblings as well, but probably to a lesser extent because adult siblings tend to have their own families as direct stakeholders.

These are the people who will be most likely to share and benefit from your successes or failures, whether emotionally, financially, socially or physically.

How can stakeholders affect or impact your life?
  • If your father has Alzheimer’s or a serious stroke and your mother is trying to take care of him over a long period of time, your life will probably be affected.

  • If your daughter is married, has a baby or has a divorce, your future will probably be affected.

  • If YOU have Alzheimer’s or suffer a major stroke, your stakeholders will all be impacted.

  • If your child achieves greatness, goes to jail, moves to the other side of the world or just does things that make you proud or make you shake your head, you’ve been affected.

So that is just a little bit of why you should understand stakeholders.

Who has a stake in your life? And where do you have stakes? Besides your immediate family, do you have very close friends that might be stakeholders? Do you have a stake in your boss’s future? Who else has an interest in your success or failure? Your minister? Lawyer? Mortgage holder? Investment broker?

Who would benefit from your success or failure? Who would suffer loss? Or gain?

Now that you’ve explored your stakeholders, let’s bring in the time element and add ten years to your life. Does that change anything? How do any of these relationships change? You and everyone in your family will be ten years older, most of you in another stage of life. There may be new members in your family; children, in-laws, grandchildren. Your boss may be with a different company now. Does that change anything for you? Will retirement change some of your relationships? Probably.

Lots of questions --and only you have the answers. Or can guess at the answers for the future.
And that is why futurists explore stakeholders. Because stakeholders and relationships are an important part of the present, and may be an important indicator of the future.

In July, the World Future Society will be holding their annual conference, this year in Washington DC, july 26-28. Jim Mathews and I will be present a program entitled “Your Family: Stakeholders In Your Future.” As part of the presentation we will discuss the Family Worksheet, an interactive Excel worksheet that plots the relationships between family members ages and life stages. You can download a copy of the worksheet at Go to the “Downloads” page and click on the “Family Worksheet.”

Better yet, come to the World Futures Society Conference and meet us there!