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All projects have stakeholders. Some are more “key” then others.  How do you best determine who your project stakeholders are and what you should do with them?

In this post, I will outline a process to help a Project Meeting Facilitator work with a group to identify, map and create a management plan for dealing with Project Stakeholders.

Meeting Outcomes:

  • Stakeholder identification
  • Stakeholder mapping
  • Stakeholder management plan
Agenda:
  • Brainstorming
  • Mapping
  • Management Planning
Facilitation Guide:
  • Stakeholder Brainstorming
  • The first step in Stakeholder Analysis is to get the group to identify as many of the project stakeholders as possible. In order to do that we first need the group to have a single understanding of what we mean by “stakeholder.”  For the purposes of this post, we will use the PMI PMBOK definition which states, “Stakeholders are persons or organizations (e.g., customers, sponsors, the performing organization, or the public), who are actively involved in the project or whose interests may be positively or negatively affected by the performance or completion of the project.”
  • For larger groups, split the group into smaller teams of no more than 6 individuals. Each group should have a flip chart, markers and post-its.   Post-its are recommended for flexibility at a later step.
  • Instruct each group to take 5-10 minutes to brainstorm who they see as stakeholders for the project. Remember, during brainstorming the goal is to generate ideas, not to debate the quality of the ideas. Each stakeholder idea should be written separately onto a post-it and placed onto the flipchart.
  • Stakeholder Mapping
  • The second step in Stakeholder Analysis is to subjectively have the groups map the stakeholders onto a chart to prioritize them based on how influential they may be to the project and/or how impacted they may be by the project. Each group should draw out the 4-block below onto a flipchart sheet:

  • Each group will then work within their groups to discuss each stakeholder and place the post-it with their name within one of the blocks based on that stakeholder’s level of influence (high or low) on the project – Can he/she/they influence resources, solutions, decisions on the project? – and the impact of the project on the stakeholder (high or low) – To what degree will the change/solution/output of the project change how the stakeholder works/behaves/interacts?
  • As a facilitator, instruct the groups that it doesn’t matter where in the block the stakeholder is placed. This exercise is not a granular one and it does not matter how close along the impact|influence axis the post-it is placed. The goal is to answer whether the influence and impact is high or low and place the post-it accordingly into a block.
  • After each group has completed the Stakeholder Mapping they can report back to the full team. As facilitator, you can work with a larger 4-block and collect the stakeholder post-its in a central location.  This process will allow for the consolidation of duplicate stakeholders across groups. As a group reports back and another group has that stakeholder on their chart they can just remove it and place it to the side.
  • Once all groups have reported out, the central 4-block will have a complete listing of stakeholders and their location on the Stakeholder Mapping.
  • Ask the full group the following questions based on the C.O.C. model:
  • Clarification – Is there anything on the board that you don’t understand that needs clarification?
  • Omissions – Is there anything that you believe is missing from the board?
  • Challenge – Is there anything you want to challenge on the board – something you disagree with.
  • Stakeholder Management Plan
  • Stakeholder Management Planning is quite easy at this point since the group has done the major lifting.
  • Based on the location of the stakeholder post-it on the 4-block we have a plan as to how we will handle the particular stakeholder.
  • Manage Closely – Stakeholders with high impact and high influence can be considered your key stakeholders.  As indicated by the title, your will want to work with these individuals and\or groups more closely to better understand their needs, concerns, etc. You will communicate with them often and they will have a higher level of input into project decision-making. If they are positive influencers you will want to leverage them and use them to advocate for the project.
  • Keep Informed – High impact, low influence stakeholders will need to be communicated with often so they are well-informed as to what the changes are that are coming their way. Additionally, give them an opportunity to provide feedback to the project team so they have a sense of being able to contribute to the changes impact them. Projects are about change. As much as we can manage the change for those impacted by it the better it will be received.
  • Keep Satisfied – High influencers, low impacts are those stakeholders that are not necessarily on the receiving end of the project change, but have some stake in the project. Again, these influences can be positive influencers which you will want to leverage. Otherwise, they may be somehow against the project and you will need to sell them on the benefits.
  • Monitor – Low impacts, low influencers are recognized as stakeholders, but from a project management standpoint, will only require keeping an eye on throughout the project life-cycle to see if their influence or impact level shifts.
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Space is almost infinite. As a matter of fact, we think it is infinite. – Dan Quayle

I recently had a discussion with a colleague about getting things done between meetings.  The challenge we discovered was two-fold:

  1. We have all the work that is part of our day-to-day responsibilities – for purposes of this post I’ll call this day-work.
  2. We have all the work that is produced as outputs from the meetings we attend and/or facilitate – I’ll call this meeting-work.

We both were faced with the fact that we participated in a lot of meetings. [Note: for purposes of this post let’s assume that these meetings are meaningful and need to take place.]

While in our meetings our day-work was not getting done. At the same time many of the meetings were creating new work: next actions, new problems, etc. So we now had meeting-work  to accomplish.  When we arrived back at our desks we were faced with the dilemma of getting our day-work and meeting-work completed in the space left between meetings. Sound familiar?

We thought of some tips that might be helpful:

  • Get next actions right: Be sure any next actions that are identified in the meeting are specific, actionable, have an owner, a due date, and who gets the report out of the results.   Honestly, I do not always get this one right and our teams end up with ambiguous actions that when reviewed later are met with confused stares. This way the meeting work can at least be clear and unambiguous and won’t require too much investigation time.
  • Build meeting processes that complete the work for you: When facilitating, I try as much as possible to build meeting processes that result in final product for the group. This means that at the end of the meeting the desired meeting deliverables should be as close to their final form as possible. When done well, this will minimize your post-meeting work.
  • Schedule your meeting work time: As hard as you try to minimize post-meeting work as mentioned above, we often have work to complete as outcomes of our meetings. Use your calendars to hard-schedule that time in to complete the work. This could include 30 minutes prior to the meeting to ensure that you are well prepared for the meeting and 30 minutes post meeting to process the output, get a start on next actions, or schedule future time to handle the work.

What ideas do you have for creating space for meeting work?

[Note: This is the 3rd in  a 12-week series of posts that will discuss “choices” from the book Monday Morning Choices by David Cottrell.]

A wise man learns more from his enemies than a fool from his friends. – Baltasar Gracian

The complete chapter title for week three is “The Values Choice…Choose the Right Enemies.”  In doing a bit more research on Mr. Gracian (quoted above) I came upon his collection of maxims Art of Worldy Wisdom. Skimming through this book I understood better why the author decided to select a quote from Gracian.

Gracian’s maxims speak of taking the high road, living with a strong value system,  leading a good life. keeping your friends close and your enemies closer.

Values are defined as accepted principles or standards of an individual or group.  Do you know what your values are? Are there times when you have had to make decisions which conflict with your values?

Cottrell writes that knowing what your values are and living by them are different – and living by your values will eventually lead to enemies who share a different value system.

Here’s an example. I have a very strong family-first value set. This has often conflicted with some co-workers and managers who didn’t understand my decisions to not take assignments or even jobs that would require me to be away from my family for more time than I was comfortable with – whether it was travelling or long work hours.  These were uncomfortable discussions, but knowing I was living by my chosen values made me happier and more confident (and trust me everyone – more productive!)  Sure, I chose my enemies in a way, but that is the point of this week’s choice.

Cultivate those who can teach you – Balthasar Gracian