Stakeholders can make new initiatives succeed or fail. In this video, learn how to identify key stakeholder groups, determine their importance, and involve them in the necessary change processes.
- One of the more difficult projects I worked on was an early consulting project with a divisional head at a small company. She was leading the sales and marketing team and was great, well liked, forward-thinking, hard worker and really smart. I'd facilitated discussions with her and the team on how they could be more effective and they landed on a restructuring of the teams as the answer. Before the changes took effect, she walked through a final stakeholder analysis. She laid it out to upper management under the impression that she was just reconfirming the decisions they'd made, but one member of the executive team shot the idea down. My client had rightly identified this person as a stakeholder, but had mistakenly decided that the executive had no interest in the plan. This shows just how important identifying and analyzing your stakeholders can be. I want to talk you through a few factors you need to be aware of, prepare yourself for success with your stakeholders. Before you make a change, start by listing all potential stakeholders. There's three ways you can do this. First, assess who is going to be affected. What departments, what customer groups, what vendors, what processes? Who is this change going to touch in any way? Create an exhaustive list, walking yourself through the change process and anybody that's going to be affected by that change. Second, ask yourself, who can say yes or no to this? Going through the list of anybody that you have to get approval for on any step for the change, including the work once the change is enacted. These are the people you need to involve the most. Ideally, you want them on board from the outset to avoid getting derailed after you've completed work. On this list, you should include any gatekeeper that can say yes or no, withhold or allow required resources, or that can grant approval, licensing, or permits. Third, ask yourself who has an interest but not necessarily any power. This can be simply out of curiosity, like someone from another division that's watching to see how things go for your team, or people that might be able to generate attention that could cause problems like shareholders, governmental agencies, or people in your surrounding area. Once you have your list, rank them on two scales. One, how much power do they have? And two, how much interest do they have? You'll end up with four categories of stakeholders. Those with low interest and low power, these people you don't really need to worry too much about. Those with low interest, but high power, with these people double check that they have really have no interest or at least find out what to avoid to make sure they stay uninterested. Stakeholders that are high interest and low power, these people can be great cheerleaders or it can raise enough of a stink that those that do have power take action. Keep them informed and ask for their input. And those that have high power and high interest, these are the people that you should have at the table from as early on as you can identify them. Make sure they feel their voice is heard. Pay attention to all your stakeholders but mostly to the last two categories. And you'd be wise to have several other eyes on your list just to check your perceptions. I've seen interested but low power people build coalitions to derail projects. And as with my client, I've seen uninterested parties become interested in derail projects as well. Your keen analysis of stakeholders will help avoid these mishaps.