Celebrating 10 years and 20 projects of successful outcomes through smart stakeholder engagement in over 10 countries
22 Decembrie 2016


This celebration includes a big ‘thank you!’ to all the community members, business executives, local authority officials, development agencies, academic institutions and colleagues for sharing so much over the past decade. Raising the bar and daring to develop joined-up-thinking projects resulted in real value being added to society, while designing out associated risks and addressing sustainability challenges. In so doing, projects gained their social license to operate.

We started our journey in 2006 / 07 when we saw more and more projects being rejected by society, or quite simply failing to produce sustainable outcomes. This was the case even when competent teams of experts ticked many of the right technical, economical, environmental and legislative boxes. We undertook intensive research to see what was happening, why individual stakeholder’s fears or needs were not addressed and what needed to be done to develop projects that society supports.

We call the result Smart Business: an endeavour that is technically and financially successful, environmentally compatible, publicly supported and sufficiently innovative to meet today’s challenges. 

Early on in our journey we engaged with CSR and the ISO 26000 (international standard for social responsibility) creation process, and such tools as GRI. We quickly came up against the enormity of what ‘society’ meant. By 2008 we had replaced ‘society’ with ‘stakeholders’ to make our focus more concrete, more locally meaningful and much more implementable and project-manageable. We re-defined CSR to mean a “Company’s Responsibilities towards its Stakeholders” and became acutely aware of how CSR in its commercial sense was often part of the problem (see the article CSR is Dangerous). Our focus became to help organisations create shared clarity around the stakes of their project proposals, and build great teams and honest and reasonable dialogue with the holders of these stakes. By 2009 we had already undertaken six pilot projects hosted by communities and companies in four different countries (Romania, Macedonia, Turkey and Yemen). Based on the success (and many learning points) of these, we have since developed over 20 projects with stakeholders at the core of their governance and success in over 10 countries. Our approach became central to the 2011 version of the international stakeholder engagement standard AA1000SES, which we helped put together as part of its technical committee.

We learned again and again that we take other people’s decisions at our peril. It became obvious that much of the effort involved in stakeholder engagement needs to go into organisational goal clarity, team cohesion, change management inside the proposing organisation and ultimately co-design. This and a systematic and structured engagement approach proved essential to get to win-win results that sustainably benefited both the local stakeholders and the business itself.

To mark our 10-year anniversary we have documented here the five-step approach we follow called Smart Engagement. It incorporates strategic planning, leadership, team clarity and coaching, change management, sustainability and stakeholder engagement. Project proponents and stakeholders are happy as risks are mitigated and benefits maximised. We further documented here how we use this approach to support the attainment of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Together with my colleague Alan Knight, and with very valuable input from a large number of people, we have also documented the stakeholder engagement component of our approach in the DoShort book Smart Engagement: Why, What, Who & How. We are also partnering with a number of universities and businesses to spread this knowledge and experience.

So what next? Having established a successful approach to managing society and cultural risks for business today, two community-immersed Smart Business development centres and an extensive network elsewhere in Europe and worldwide, we are looking forward to the next decade: one in which we witness Smart Engagement supporting more and more enterprises thrive through developing successful partnerships with empowered communities; and resolving together the tough questions that arise.  

From Stakeholder Management to Real Involvement: New Partnership between astoneco and the Center for Responsible Management, Vienna
10 Noiembrie 2015


Vienna, November 10th 2015. Companies are confronted with more and more critical stakeholders: many projects fail or struggle because the dynamics with stakeholders have been underestimated or ignored. Many company decisions are still being taken on the basis of internal analysis – without considering public acceptance and enforceability. As a consequence, stakeholders are being left with a choice between support, resignation or resistance. This results very often in demotivated employees, in protests by neighbours, in sceptical clients, in opponents on many levels - and in the end in the loss of the company’s Licence to Operate. The conclusion: ambitious plans and projects can fail because of inadequate engagement of stakeholders.

These are the situations where John Aston and his team are very often being called upon. Their approach: Stakeholder Engagement. What sounds like pure dialogue is in fact much more: listening, analysis, assessment and establishment of solutions together with stakeholders. This approach has been working successfully in the past years for many company projects that appeared to be irresolvable in the beginning, in a variety of countries such as Romania, Yemen and others.

The Center for Responsible Management now brings this very original approach to Austria. The new cooperation bundles the know-how of both institutions: John Aston and his teams’ knowledge in stakeholder engagement and risk management, and the Center’s knowledge in communication, value management and business ethics.

Training Programs for efficient Stakeholder Engagement

A first step is a training program for companies. In the process, company Management and Teams are sensitized towards project risks. They receive know-how in Stakeholder Engagement in order to expand their perspective to a 360 degree understanding. They get to know tools and strategies in how to secure mutually beneficial goals in the long run, how to achieve and implement projects which ultimately save money that would otherwise have to be used for costly and bureaucratic processes or even lawsuits. The goal: To create value through stakeholder engagement that is beneficiary for both: the company as well as society.

Find detailed information about the training program: http://responsible-management.at/stakeholderengagement/ resp. http://www.astoneco.com/en/what-we-do/training

Contact: Center for Responsible Management: Gabriele Faber-Wiener, g.faber-wiener@responsible-management.at; astoneco management: John Aston, john.aston@astoneco.com

Cum să-ți implici stakeholderii pentru rezultate de success: o serie de traininguri marca astoneco
09 Iunie 2015

astoneco a lansat o serie de traininguri de stakeholder engagement create pentru a adresa cele mai dificile provocări prezentate de stakeholderi și societate afacerilor de astăzi - cu accent particular asupra industriilor de resurse naturale, infrastructură și energie. Cele 14 traininguri sunt foarte practice și create să sprijine diverse niveluri de management, aprofundând aspecte de strategie, proces și implementare.

Aceste traininguri sunt organizate ca:

  • boot-camps pe principiul primul venit – primul servit, la centrele noastre de training din Europa, și
  • traininguri adaptate pentru clienți specifici, la o locație preferată de client sau la centrele noastre de training.

Toate trainingurile includ o evaluare detaliată a nevoilor participanților și opțiunea de coaching post-training. 


Un exemplu recent de un training adaptat pentru OMV, Austria

astoneco, in parteneriat cu IMA International, a livrat un program de training de Stakeholder Engagement (SE), Community Relations (CR) and Community Development (CD) pentru OMV worldwide, la finalul anului 2014.

Cursul de 4 zile s-a concentrat pe echiparea managementului și a echipelor operaționale din țările în care OMV își desfășoară operațiunile – inclusiv Abu Dhabi, Austria, Kazakhstan, Kirgizstan, Noua Zeelandă, Norvegia, Pakistan, România, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Yemen, Marea Britanie – cu înțelegerea, instrumentele și procesele prin care să poată crea și implementa proiecte în parteneriat cu comunitățile locale. Acestea sunt necesare pentru a minimiza conflictele locale și întârzierile, pentru a îmbunătăți eficiența și acordarea de premise și pentru a întări licența socială de operare a companiei.

Trainingurile au fost organizate în București și Dubai. 65 de profesioniști au participat, inclusiv reprezentanți ai Managementului General, Sănătății și Securității, Mediului, de CSR, Resurse Umane, Comunicare, Dezvoltare de proiecte și Operațiuni din cadrul Diviziilor de Explorare și Producție ale OMV Petrom.