Most of us dedicate our professional lives to solving problems; big problems and the myriad of small ones between here and our audacious goals. Clients often ask me, “How can we engage our Gen X’ers/Millenials/Gen Z’ers?” or, “How can do we increase stakeholder engagement?” While each generation and group of stakeholders surely has its unique attributes, how to engage them is similar: ask them, involve them and bring them into the process of designing the work, the job, the vision, and the solution.
While the younger generations may lack experience, they do not lack passion for what is to come, for that is their future. That is why it is vital that youth are involved in civic matters. If not, the result is as obscene as a room full of men deciding on the future of women’s health issues, or a room full of white people creating diversity programs, or a room full of able-bodied people designing ADA accessibility guidelines.
Any group that is affected by a decision wants to be at the decision making table. In a recent conversation I had with Dolores Estrada of The California Endowment, she discussed how The California Endowment is changing their approach to philanthropy. They are upping the ante, and racing towards their audacious mission by directly and meaningfully involving the stakeholders they seek to impact.
While it is easy to fall into the trap of collectivism, and see individuals as groups (e.g. Millennials, Blacks, Jews, Immigrants), the reality of our humanity and our identities are far more complex and dynamic. That is why we need to invite the people we hope to impact into the conversations where we are designing and envisioning the solutions, processes and outcomes we are working towards. By involving all our stakeholders, our ideas become better, more resilient, and more impactful. At its heart, innovation is about creativity, and creativity is fostered by the amalgamation of a myriad of ideas, perspectives and understandings.
We are better together. If you are interested in exploring how you can better bring your stakeholders together for an increased impact, let’s connect!