In the fall of 2019 a group of mostly strangers got to together in the north Georgia forest. We’d been invited by a mutual friend, Elaine Dinos, to help her explore potential business ideas for her consulting company, Kindred Lane, and its emerging methodology called The Wisdom of the Forest. The group who gathered represented different races, countries, genders, socio-economic backgrounds, and professions. Elaine had asked us each to come with something we wanted to share with the group – this turned into several days of storytelling, presentations, yoga, and heart-felt conversations about the collision of our personal passions and the work we were each involved in. Among the participants, Nathan Havey of Thrive Consulting, who had worked for years with Conscious Capitalism brought up an idea: what if there was a simple standard for how we measured the health of a company’s relationship with its stakeholders?
Nathan started discussing the idea with Linh Quach and Scott Peeples, who had been collaborating with another colleague on a stakeholder-driven consulting model called The Meraki Approach. They agreed that a group of veteran stakeholder theory practitioners should be gathered to attempt to stand up a first version of an open-sourced survey that captured the essential areas that defined a healthy stakeholder ecosystem. A few months later, six people, including Nathan, Linh, Scott, as well as Anil Saxena, Brian Mohr, and Vanessa Childers met up in Denver, CO to bring the idea to life.
We researched, reflected, sat, walked, ate, and talked for hours over those two days in Denver. By the end of the second day we had uncovered six essential areas with about three specific survey questions in each area. This culminated in a presentation to a panel of academics, business executives, and management consultants. We invited over a dozen experts and experienced enthusiasts to join the meeting via an online call to hear the outcome of the 2 day summit and to offer feedback and advice on the survey. After incorporating their insights, and bolstered by the positive reception, the Stakeholder Score was born.
It was decided that the Stakeholder Score would be a baseline, like vital signs for the health of a business ecosystem. It would be publicly available for anyone to take and modify and use. It would be iterative, based on feedback of the public, with the final editions and management of the tool to be decided by a board of volunteers committed to seeing the purpose of the Stakeholder Score cultivated and protected.
We are celebrating the one year anniversary of the conception of the Stakeholder Score. Since that time new voices have joined the conversation. Business leaders across the planet have weighed in, including Raj Sisodia (one of the founders of Conscious Capitalism) and Ed Freeman (the father of Stakeholder Theory). Consultants have started incorporating the Score into their practice, guiding their clients into a deeper and more fruitful relationship with their customers, investors, employees, suppliers, environment and communities.
The journey has just begun. In that light, the Stakeholder Score uses the language of endangered vs evolving to describe business practices. For this community of leaders, it’s not about arriving at perfection, it’s about maintaining a posture towards the future that embraces uncertainty, cultivates humanity, and partners with the planet. You’re invited to join the “we” of the Stakeholder Score. Let’s evolve together.