Tag Archives: Stakeholder

Navigating the S’s in Our Projects

PM Commentary by Stacy Goff

I recall from my days of Sports Car racing in the 1970s the importance of aggressively, yet smoothly, navigating “the Esses.” These were the sections of the racetrack with a series of somewhat gentle left and right turns–such that, if you looked at them from above, looked likeesses several repeated capital letter S’s, laid down. The other competences of racing included preparation, apexing correctly, mastering the braking and acceleration points, all while maintaining steely focus and concentration, and strategic competitiveness. But even with all that, one’s performances through the Esses often made the difference between winning and losing. The reason: This is where the most-competent drivers gain the most speed.

The analogy is similar in projects. In projects, the Esses, or S’s, as shown in the title, include: Stakeholders, Sponsors, Sustainability and Success. And just as in racing, these appear to be gentle curves that the project throws at you—but competent and performing project managers know they are far more than that. They are the places where you can achieve the most project momentum.

Project Stakeholders
Everyone knows that Stakeholders are important in projects, yet too many project teams do a poor job of aligning with them, understanding their needs, and delivering to them. This is of recent interest for some, as the new ISO Standard for project management, 21,500, adds Stakeholders as one of the key Subject Groups. And, the PMBOK® Guide’s 2013 release also now includes Stakeholder Management as a knowledge area. Of course, many of us have long recognized Stakeholder savvy to include knowledge, skill, competence and a key performance area. This insight has been key to project success for decades. Continue reading

Where Did the Term Stakeholder Come From?

Guest Post by IPMA-USA Co-Founder Robert Youker

In September of 2006, Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoelick used the word “stakeholder” when speaking about US/China relations.  The Chinese language does not have a corollary word for “stakeholder” and the use of the word led to quite a fuss. The State Department suggested a Chinese phrase meaning “participants with related interests”.

The term stakeholder had come into common useage by the end of the last century, but where did the word come from?  One possible source is the person who holds the money or stakes in a bet. Another possibility is in mining prospecting where you drive stakes into the fours corners of the property you want to claim.

Stakeholders are people inside and outside an organization who have a vested interest in a problem and its solution.  They can be both positive and negative in their interests.  Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia, has a good section on the term. In all current project planning a stakeholder analysis is a vital step. But where did the common modern useage of people in “interest groups” come from? Continue reading

Stakeholders Benefit From a PM’s Perspective

PM Commentary by Stacy Goff.

Our recent series of IPMA (International Project Management Association) meetings and events in Asia was rich with the opportunity to meet great people, dialogue about the benefits of our chosen practice or profession, and with innumerable sudden insights. Not to mention a wealth of topics for this often-longer-and-deeper-than-normal blog.

In this case, the setting was an early Sunday morning flight over the Himalaya mountains of Nepal. Sponsored by PMAN, Project Management Association of Nepal (thank you again!), it was a beautiful morning, and on takeoff, we saw the city of Kathmandu waking up. Soaring to mountain heights, and rising above the clouds, we were able to track each of the peaks jutting above the clouds. Showing the benefit of a plan, we each had a map of the mountains we would see in our journey from North to South. StakeholderView

The Stakeholder View
The first mountain we saw barely peeked through the clouds. The next several were progressively higher. From our window seat in the small plane, those on the left side of the plane had a decent view out of the tiny windows. Those on the right had a more obscured view. We all had other obstacles, such as the wing of the plane blocking a portion of the view.

Similarly, in many projects, our key Stakeholders don’t always have the same clear view of the project as does the team. The Stakeholders are often part-time participants. They don’t have time to read all the documents, and may miss important meetings, “because of pressing priorities.” They do not have the clear project vision they deserve.

One quick discovery made a difference in our blocked view. If we looked out-and-back, rather than out-and-ahead, the wing was not in the way. Of course, this was difficult, because it was clear that the route of the plane was taking us to ever-increasingly tall mountains, so in our eagerness, we were still often looking, even straining, to see what was coming. Continue reading