Stakeholders: turn growth killers into growth makers

The seven stakeholder groups

This report identifies seven stakeholder groups, and the ideal relationships within each group that lead to the best conditions for driving growth.

Figure 1: An ideal growth company can demonstrate these relationships with their stakeholders

Source: STL Partners

Management

To be successful, we believe that management needs to exhibit three broad behaviours and capabilities.

1. Stable and committed long term vision for growth aligned with the Coordination Age.

2. Suitable knowledge, experience and openness.

3. Effective two-way engagement with stakeholders. (N.B. We cover the board and most senior management in this group. Other management is covered in the People stakeholder group.)

People

However good the senior management team, an organisation’s ability to deliver growth and change depends on the capabilities of a much wider group of people, which we articulate within three sets:

• People in general: the company’s people support the vision generally, and it has a suitable culture

• People in key units: the business areas which enable new growth have the differentiating skills and experience(s) needed

• General management: the broader management of the company is open to new ideas, close to customer needs, and diverse

Customer propositions

A company’s ability to grow is directly connected to its ability to produce and develop valued products and services. It is what customers pay for and hence drives the revenue element of growth. Even when companies are valued based on their expected growth (e.g. have a higher P/E ratio), it is with the belief and expectation that profits will grow in the future, and this is largely driven by expected improvements in demand or a company’s ability to address new demand. In other words, revenue growth.

Many of the factors that enable a company to create, design and deliver great propositions relate to the capabilities in other stakeholder groups. For example, the ease of making changes and adding partners (Technology and partners), the skills of its people (People), and the customer orientation of its culture and the experience of its management team (People and management).

The factors that are more generically revealed in externally visible signs of a company’s capabilities are:

• The track record of the company in building new propositions, such as how good its existing customer relationships are and how far it has successfully moved into new areas

• Its investment focus, to indicate the degree to which the company is backing its desire to get into new areas that will grow in the Coordination Age by investing in them.

Partners & technology

The role of partners and technology in creating new propositions and market plays is complex and multifaceted, and they contribute to many different aspects of business performance.

Their ability to contribute to a company’s growth will depend on the extent to which any new initiative needs to use the existing company’s ecosystems, and how the experience of the company’s technology team can contribute to the new area. In general though, three characteristics of the existing ecosystems will give some indication of how well equipped they are to support new initiatives.

• The company’s adoption of disruptive new technologies and business models that embrace and enable change

• Resilient economics of scale in the core business so that it can deal with changes with minimum impact on growth investments

• Effective use of technology so that it is easy and fast to change and reconfigure internal and external offerings on demand

Investors

Getting and keeping the support of investors for growth is a critical part of the puzzle for management, and telcos sometimes bemoan their inability to get investor support for their growth plans.

This is because growth investments are generally riskier than investments to bolster a mature concern like a telecoms network, and therefore should be accompanied by the chance of superior returns from an investors’ perspective. In contrast, most investors choose to place money with telcos because they consider it relatively ‘safe’ and therefore accept a lower promise of return.

In an ideal situation to support growth, the three characteristics showing supportive investors are:

• A stable investor base, so that agreed strategies have a better chance of running their course

• Investors’ historical happiness and relationship with the management – nothing to suggest fundamental unrest

• A match between current and projected returns and investor expectations

Government & regulatory

Three characteristics that convey the basis of the government and regulatory relationship are:

• The tone of the government and regulatory environment

• Current status of regulatory discussions

• The company’s approach to government and regulatory relationships

Society

The model looks at three components of the company’s engagement with the broader societies to which it belongs.

• Brand presence, engagement and image

• Company alignment with societal priorities

• Media portrayal