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Stakeholder Management Strategies

On occasion, I read a piece that speaks to me.  Recently, it was a post titled The Yellow Brick Road – What Do Your Stakeholders Expect, written by Bas de Baar, an independent project consultant based in the Netherlands.  Bas clearly articulated a story of his youth and aligned it with a stakeholder management strategy.

I loved this piece. If there’s one thing I think project managers and the like need help on, it’s developing stakeholder management strategies. I sometimes sit in meetings, as an observer, to see how the vendor is interacting with the client. Representing the client, I know what makes them anxious and what doesn’t. As the meeting progresses and the client feels they are not being provided enough information, they commonly become very anxious.

In the Yellow Brick Road piece, Bas described fond childhood memories of an annual family vacation.  As part of the planning process, his father wrote detailed driving instructions on how to find their way.  Based on the checkpoints his father had documented, Bas knew how much further they needed to travel to reach the next checkpoint or complete their journey.

Now imagine how much different his memories could have been, if his father hadn’t provided him with those documented checkpoints? Imagine if every time Bas become anxious from the long trip, he had to ask his father how much further they had to go?

I seemingly remember, as a child, doing this every time I got into the car.

How much longer until we’re there?

5 minutes

Put yourself in your stakeholders’ shoes.  Try to align your communications and management strategy with their current perception of the journey.

Graphic: Pictofigo

About Derek Huether

I'm Vice President of ALM Platforms at LeadingAgile. Author of Zombie Project Management (available on Amazon). Novice angel investor.

10 Responses to “Stakeholder Management Strategies”

  1. September 5, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    Hi Derek, Thanks for your kind words. And you are exactly hitting the point: how many times are things ruined because we really think it just 5 minutes before we can have a stop to get refreshments and things 🙂 ? My guess is: too many times.

    Hope to see you in DC.

    • Derek Huether
      September 5, 2010 at 8:17 pm

      Bas, again, excellent post. I look forward to seeing you and other in DC next month.

  2. September 5, 2010 at 5:36 am

    Hi Derek, Thanks for your kind words. And you are exactly hitting the point: how many times are things ruined because we really think it just 5 minutes before we can have a stop to get refreshments and things 🙂 ? My guess is: too many times.

    Hope to see you in DC.

    • Derek Huether
      September 5, 2010 at 1:17 pm

      Bas, again, excellent post. I look forward to seeing you and other in DC next month.

  3. September 8, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    Derek and Bas are SO RIGHT. This is such a common problem and for – well, about a year or two, I guess, I have been wondering why people don’t GET it. I have now come to the conclusion that these bad habits of stakeholder management are so entrenched that nobody wants to change, even when they know it will be better. What they could do, however, is make small changes here and there. Start with an ally. What do you think, Derek?

    Laura Gideon
    Steelray Software

    • Derek Huether
      September 8, 2010 at 6:00 pm

      Laura, I’ve known a C-Level executive on a corporate project who felt the need to withhold information. He would then tell people what he wanted when he wanted. I think this is old-school top-down command-and-control. More importantly, I strongly disagree with this tactic.

      I think it is healthiest to be as transparent as possible. I’m not saying you should go to the CEO every time the build fails. I’m just saying there should be a mechanism in place to passively communicate a status to everyone on the team. When I mean team, I mean from the interns all the way up to the C-Levels. Information distribution frequency could be based on job role or functional group.

      We’re all adults here…smart ones, no less. Give everyone a little credit to do the right thing and keep them informed. They’ll then be able to make decisions when they need to make them, based on readily available information.

    • Derek Huether
      September 8, 2010 at 6:47 pm

      I wanted to make sure I addressed the last thing Laura noted. If you want to disrupt the status quo, forming alliances is a great way to implement change. You need to get buy-in if you want to change things. Sure, you can have changes mandated from the top down. But, I still prefer doing things from the ground up.

  4. September 8, 2010 at 10:32 am

    Derek and Bas are SO RIGHT. This is such a common problem and for – well, about a year or two, I guess, I have been wondering why people don’t GET it. I have now come to the conclusion that these bad habits of stakeholder management are so entrenched that nobody wants to change, even when they know it will be better. What they could do, however, is make small changes here and there. Start with an ally. What do you think, Derek?

    Laura Gideon
    Steelray Software

    • Derek Huether
      September 8, 2010 at 11:00 am

      Laura, I’ve known a C-Level executive on a corporate project who felt the need to withhold information. He would then tell people what he wanted when he wanted. I think this is old-school top-down command-and-control. More importantly, I strongly disagree with this tactic.

      I think it is healthiest to be as transparent as possible. I’m not saying you should go to the CEO every time the build fails. I’m just saying there should be a mechanism in place to passively communicate a status to everyone on the team. When I mean team, I mean from the interns all the way up to the C-Levels. Information distribution frequency could be based on job role or functional group.

      We’re all adults here…smart ones, no less. Give everyone a little credit to do the right thing and keep them informed. They’ll then be able to make decisions when they need to make them, based on readily available information.

    • Derek Huether
      September 8, 2010 at 11:47 am

      I wanted to make sure I addressed the last thing Laura noted. If you want to disrupt the status quo, forming alliances is a great way to implement change. You need to get buy-in if you want to change things. Sure, you can have changes mandated from the top down. But, I still prefer doing things from the ground up.

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