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NPO’s : Stakeholder Management is Relationship Management

Contemporary Systems Management Weekly Reflection. Enjoy!

This week we discussed some very interesting topics such as storytelling, stakeholder management, and innovation and creativity. All of these topics are critical to contemporary management systems. I especially like our discussion on storytelling. Storytelling is a part of the human fabric and as such, it is critical to corporations, businesses, and organizations, families, and so forth.

I appreciated Bourne’s (2008) argument that stakeholder management is about relationship management. Not only does relationship management matter, I believe it is the most important aspect of system management designs. In every facet of life, especially in the workplace, whatever the goals and objectives are, if people (employees) do not have a positive relationship with one another and the bosses, it seems more difficult to complete the task or meet the mission of the organization. It seems that relationship management is really important in nonprofit organizations. When one is leading a group of people in a faith-based organization, where a volunteerism helps to drive the organization forward, relationship maintenance must be a key priority.

People are more likely to give of their time, talents, and treasure if they have a good relationship with the organization and the leaders who lead them. As the director of our community outreach program at CSL, a large percentage of my job is relationship building and maintaining relationships with our volunteers. We would not be able to sustain our number of volunteers if they did not feel valued (empowered), heard, and made to feel a vital part of our service projects.

We discussed empowerment in this past week. I also discussed the fascinating arm of academic research called heuristic inquiry and transpersonal research. An aspect of this type of research that produced an “Aha” moment for me was Hiles (2001) discussion of mindful inquiry. Bentz and Shapiro (1998) coined this research approach as mindful inquiry and it combines the intellectual traditions of hermeneutics, critical social theory, phenomenology and Buddhism.

In this type of research, the researcher is put in the center of the research which allows for the awareness, empowerment, and transformation of the researcher’s sense of self and identity (Hiles, 2001). Bringing a sense of mindfulness to academic research stresses disciplined focus, intention, and awareness into the “now” moment in all experiences. Indeed, as Holmes (1966) believed, the now is all we ever have. The part of this type of research that speaks to empowerment is critical theory. I have been fascinated by critical theory since my feminism days in Master’s program. I was so engaged in this theory that I minored in Women’s Studies.

Hiles (2001) believed that what is, “most important is the recognition that theories, explanations, and understanding can be empowering” (p. 10). As a psychologist, Hiles (2001) explained that the use of psychological knowledge and techniques to empower people to make, “informed decisions, express themselves freely, challenge discrimination, oppression, and end unnecessary suffering (p. 10) is what mindful inquiry is all about. Indeed, that is what we are learning as leaders’ scholars’ practitioners. I had a pretty good sense of self and awareness prior to enrolling in the DM program at the University of Phoenix. However, in the last four years, my consciousness has expanded immensely and I have been empowered by this program and curriculum, my colleagues and classmates, and the journey toward a terminal degree. I am grateful for this. Moreover, I realize my responsibility to turn back and help someone else to do the same.


Bentz, V. M., & Shapiro, J. J. (1998).  Mindful inquiry in social research

          Thousand Oaks, CS: Sage Publications.

Bourne, L. M. (2008).  Stakeholder Relationship Management.  Retrieved from


Hiles, D. (October, 2001).  Heuristic inquiry and transpersonal research.  

          Paper presented to CCPE, London, U.K. Retrieved from


Holmes, E. (1966).  Science of mind: A philosophy, a faith, a way of life.  New

          York, NY: Penguin Putnam, Inc.

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