Governance Academy on Stakeholder Engagement

Jim Rice

Former LMG Project Director

Governance Academy participants discussing stakeholder engagement: Esubalew Demissie, Seble Daniel, Jemal Mohammed, Frehiwot Getahun of MSH/LMG Ethiopia.Governance Academy participants discussing stakeholder engagement: Esubalew Demissie, Seble Daniel, Jemal Mohammed, Frehiwot Getahun of MSH/LMG Ethiopia. Photo: MSH Staff

Stakeholder engagement is one of many essential practices for smart governance and effective governing bodies. The governing bodies of health services organizations owe their stakeholders the right to know how the organization operates, how it functions and its long term goals. Additionally, stakeholders should be well informed on: why the organization exists (its mission); how the organization should look and behave in 10 years (the vision); what the organization plans to do to enhance health and health care (strategic roadmap to vision and mission); how the organization’s leaders plan to achieve this mission and vision (resource mobilization); and how the beneficiaries can tell the degree to which the grand plans are actually being achieved (performance monitoring).

Health organization stakeholders include beneficiaries, politicians, care providers, employees, the media, at-risk populations, suppliers, and the public at large, just to name a few.

During a recent “Governance Academy” held for country staff of the MSH offices in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, participants were asked to identify ways to achieve successful stakeholder engagement. They ranked the following five strategies in order of importance and value:

  1. Extend a sincere invitation to participate
  2. Conduct advance planning to facilitate engagement
  3. Create a non-threatening environment to assess & plan
  4. Apply challenge model to governing bodies
  5. Engage in smart listening

All were found to be interrelated, and all help to ensure that the value of stakeholder engagement can be optimized.

Contributions of stakeholder engagement to governing are:

  • Provision of wisdom about beneficiary needs and what corresponding actions are likely to succeed or fail in addressing these;
  • Definition and anticipation of problems or barriers to achieving the organization’s mission and vision;
  • Ownership of problems;
  • Understanding and owning the action plan and the budget needed to implement the plan; and therefore
  • Provision of solutions to strengthen the performance of the organization

Stakeholder engagement is a pre-condition for effective strategy execution. Further readings on strategy execution can be found here.

A great experiential learning forum.