5 Steps to Stimulating Stakeholders
Your project's approved and funded, but it feels stuck. You want to get things done, and so does everyone else – at least that's what they say. But somehow things aren't right, and your project is quickly coming off the rails. Here are five things you can do to stimulate your stakeholders and get things back on track.
Find the Force
A good start for your stakeholders is to figure out which of them holds the power in the organization. Who are the people that can make things happen? Sometimes, these are the folks with the executive titles, but often they're not.
The power that flows from their formal authority may be substantially less than the power that flows from relationships and respect.
Dial Up the Demand
Power is great, but if they're not wielding their power towards driving your project forward, it's wasted. Look for your most demanding stakeholders and evaluate whether they have the power to help make their demands a reality. While we sometimes shy away from our demanding stakeholders because they're not always the most pleasant to be around, they can often be the voice that can move our project forward.
Look for Legitimacy
Sometimes, power and demands don't have any legitimacy to the project that you're working on. If you're changing an accounts payable process, the VP of Sales may be both powerful and demanding, but she'll fall short of being well received because she's not relevant and, therefore, legitimate to the project you're getting accomplished. Legitimate stakeholders sometimes need to be imbued with power and a sense of demand by the other project stakeholders.
Select Your Stakeholders
Definitive stakeholders have power, are at least somewhat demanding, and are legitimately impacted by the change. While we can't always find stakeholders that have all three of these properties, we can select a group of stakeholders that can come together. As a group, they can form a definitive stakeholder by leveraging the power, demanding nature, and legitimacy that the project needs to move forward.
If you want to develop your stakeholders into the kind of definitive stakeholders that will drive your project to completion, get the group together and create opportunities for them to hone in on a single shared vision for the project and how they'll each get what they want from the success of the project.
Finally, if you want to get stakeholders engaged, you may need to change the way that you're approaching the project. You should never give up on your core ideals for the project; however, sometimes taking a page from the politician playbook isn't a bad thing. If you need a powerful stakeholder and you can get them on board with the addition of a small side-project or feature, then, by all means, consider it. Sometimes, the best way to stimulate stakeholders is to play to their personal perspectives on what the project needs to do.
About Robert Bogue, CIP
Robert Bogue is a father, husband, community leader, and servant with over a dozen years in business. A passionate learner and educator, Robert has editor credit on over 100 books, author credit on 27 books and numerous courses. Robert is also a recovering technologist with 17 years as a Microsoft MVP. He reads and reviews a book each week on non-technical topics, distilling the wisdom of many into a set of discovered truths. His Discovered Truths (http://www.discoveredtruths.com) project teaches everyone in the organization key interpersonal skills through short, engaging videos delivered each week to every employee. You can follow Robert on his blog at http://www.thorprojects.com/blog.