StakeholdersLast week, I suggested that some of us might bear a little responsibility for creating our own daily chaos or long-term stress. It doesn’t matter if you’re disorganized—flying by the seat of your pants, or the schedule whisperer—never more than a heartbeat away from your 23 color-coded calendars. If you aren’t doing the right things, then doing the whole list doesn’t feel much better than doing half of it.

This week’s post is Part I of What Your Family Isn’t Telling You, and Why. Before you try to figure out what to do for a successful family, you should probably make sure you know who your family is.

What’s your strategy for prioritizing your daily activities? Do you just react to whatever is urgent? Do you focus on what you assume or perceive to be important? How do you know your time and energy are invested in activities that truly are important? That isn’t just a problem for moms or families. It’s universal. And while it’s a common problem for even the most organized families, the solution is one of the first things covered in every business school, because success in business is dependent on companies doing the right things.

What if society cared as much about the success of families as it does about the success of Wall Street? Could we take a page from the corporate playbook and apply it to family management? To make the family-business connection, think about how a successful company approaches this problem.

Are we investing our limited resources on projects and activities that will provide value to our stakeholders? −Successful Company

Stakeholder Examples

To answer that question, Successful Company must first identify its stakeholders. What’s a stakeholder?

In business, a stakeholder is any individual or organization that is affected by the activities of the company. Customers, employees, investors, and suppliers are all examples of business stakeholders.

Who are the stakeholders in your family? They are the individuals who have either an interest in, or influence over, the success or happiness of your family. Spouses, children, parents, siblings, friends, and teachers are all examples of family stakeholders.

Armed with a list of stakeholders, Successful Company uses some method of classification—often a power/interest grid—to prioritize and identify key stakeholders. Key stakeholders are those who have both a high level of interest and a high degree of influence over the success of a company or project. All successful companies have one thing in common—they met (or are meeting) the most important needs of their key stakeholders. Likewise, all successful families must meet the most important needs of the core family unit, or the key stakeholders.

Imagine you’re Super Car Company. You perform market research, i.e., sit at busy intersections counting models of cars. You discover a multitude of popular cars and trucks, all of which are profitable at their respective companies. Eager to be successful at Super Car Company, you go back to the factory and manufacture every trend in the auto industry, from electrics to muscle cars to limos and everything in between. A year later, Super Car Company is bankrupt, and all the employees are on strike.

Seems like a silly example, doesn’t it? Sort of like Super Mom trying to keep an immaculate home; cook a hot, nutritious meal three times a day; keep the kids safe, clothed and entertained; go to work; go to church; go shopping; go to soccer, dance, piano, and gymnastics; help with homework; schedule checkups and play dates; schedule mani/pedi’s, highlights, and laser hair removal; exercise/shower/look pretty/smell good; volunteer; be kind, patient, interesting and sexy; sleep—LOL, kidding about that one.

Am I suggesting you stop working so hard? Sadly, no. (My dear mamaw would roll over in her grave. I can still hear her voice in my head, “Young’un, a little hard work never hurt nobody.”) Didn’t anyone ever tell you a mom’s work is never done? Here’s what I am suggesting: if you’re going to put in that much effort every single day, then by gosh at the end of each day you should feel content, loved, appreciated and successful.

Fortunately, you can use the same techniques successful companies use to manage their to-do lists. First, identify your family’s key stakeholders. Next week, you’ll learn how to uncover their most important needs, and why it’s not as simple as just asking them.

This week’s assignment in Family Management 101: your stakeholder analysis.

Family Stakeholder Analysis Process

Click the thumbnails below for larger images.