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  • Penny Clark-Hall

The power of communication and collaboration

Social Licence Consulting improves stakeholder engagement through empathy, transparency and authenticity.


I’ve spent my working life using communication to influence, connect and collaborate. Communication has never been more important in this digital age of information where businesses and industries are getting disrupted every day and their social licence is more slippery than ever.

Open communication is the building blocks of collaboration because it helps us to connect with our stakeholders’ values, so we can create a unified purpose. This helps us focus our energy and resources on a common goal.


Value alignment is where your stakeholder relationship starts building trust. In an ideal world, this would be how we pick and choose who we collaborate with. However, when it comes to our social licence we don’t always have that luxury. While often our values are not too dissimilar, it is those stakeholders with opposing views that we need to communicate and collaborate with the most if we want to solve our social licence risks to ensure we are able to operate long term. They bring the diversity of thought that ensures your business is not one dimensional.


Good stakeholder engagement is about going beyond the status quo. Going deeper, where we are listening to understand rather than listening to respond. You need empathy and a willingness to see other people’s worldview to find common ground and build systemic solutions. True innovation happens when we are willing to include and collaborate with a diverse representation of stakeholders and community. This removes the risk of ‘groupthink’ and gives a holistic approach to all aspects of the problem.


Not everyone is a collaborator. The right people need to be in the room. Those who have the capacity to work with others with different views - discovering insights as you go, which serve the greater good.


This kind of approach takes time and patience. Something that feels unnatural and can be a challenge for businesses who are operating at market pace. If collaboration is considered at all, it's a luxury and the first resource to go when a business is under pressure. But as the Sustainable Business Council’s Abbie Reynolds says, “You have to go slow to go fast later on”. You need leadership that is thinking beyond the financial year and steering the ship through the stormy waters of digital disruption. Your true north is always humanisation - empathy builds understanding and connection and a common purpose and goals.


As Chris Anderson, the curator of TED Talk, said, “Every meaningful element of human progress has happened only because humans have shared ideas with each other and then collaborated to turn those ideas into reality. From the first time our ancestors teamed up to take down a mammoth to Neil Armstrong’s first step onto the moon, people have turned spoken words into astonishing shared achievements.”


Diversity of thought is your best chance of survival. With open communication, where we are listening to understand and talking to connect, we can collaborate towards systemic solutions. Some call that a better world.

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© 2019 by Penny Clark-Hall of Social Licence Consulting. All rights reserved.

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