The one thing companies need to do to ensure success.

Make yourself invaluable to your key stakeholders.

That’s it.

Sounds easy. But many organizations don’t even know who their key stakeholders are, let alone what they can do to become invaluable to them.

For this reason, we’ve created the Exist Relevant Invaluable (ERI) Scale. ERI help your company do two things: identify your key stakeholders and develop the strategies you need to become invaluable to them.

ERI is a simple five-step exercise:

  • Identify your key stakeholders.

Who matters to your organization? Is it customers or clients, suppliers, influencers, employees, owners or shareholders? Break those groups into subsets, too (for example, not all suppliers equal, and not all employees need the same amount of attention). Consider what each of your stakeholder groups need from you to succeed.

  • Define existence.

You offer a service or product. You have a website. Your staff is capable. But perhaps customers aren’t seeking you out, or maybe sales are flat. In other words, you’re not in the game. We define this as existence.

  • Define relevance.

Your clients know your brand. They may have used your services before or been referred to you by a regular customer. Your employees are content. Your business owners are earning a fair return on their investment. You have achieved relevancy. It’s a safe place to be. But you’re not hitting it out of the park. You can still elevate your brand to the highest level.

  • Define invaluable.

When you are invaluable, your employees go the extra mile on a regular basis. They see your achievements as their achievements. Your suppliers depend on you for their success, so they make sure you always get the very best they have to offer. With engaged staff and top-notch products, you become an integral part of your clients’ success. And, you make your shareholders look good. Congratulations! You are invaluable.

  • Build tactics.

Using the above definitions, evaluate where you are with each of your stakeholders groups and what it would take to make your company invaluable to them. Be warned: sometimes this type of evaluation reveals some harsh realities about how you’re serving (or neglecting to serve) your stakeholders.

Then, for each stakeholder group, answer:

  • Where are we today on the ERI scale?
  • Where do we want to be? (For some stakeholders, “exist” might be perfectly appropriate, while for others nothing short of “invaluable” is acceptable.)
  • How can we get there?

This exercise gets to the heart of what your stakeholders need from you. And with it, you are perfectly positioned to develop innovative approaches and fresh strategies that will make your company invaluable to key stakeholders.

Remember: if you want to rise to the top, you’ve got to put in the hard work to get there. Have at it!