Stakeholder Management Workshop Design

One of our trainees asked in a feedback form why don’t we use a ‘real’ case study for out Stakeholder Management and Communication Workshops. A good question deserving an answer:

  1. To develop a useful scenario for a short 1 or 2 day workshop you need a few ‘larger than life’ characters – good guys bad guys and some in between. If these were based off a real life situation we could be sued. Most of the characters in the case study are an amalgamation of some people we have met….. but they are designed to highlight characterisations rather than individuals.
  2. The scenario needs to be very simple to run through all of the issues involved in managing and communicating with stakeholders. ‘Real’ scenarios are usually far too complex for a workshop (unless you are working inside an organisation and everyone already understands the business).
  3. By developing a totally fictitious business in an exotic location, the ‘Paradise Isld. Utilities Corporation’ (PUC) everyone in the class is free to imaging ‘what might be’. If the scenario was too real some people would ‘know the answer’ based on direct experience and others would be left out.
  4. When you are dealing with stakeholders, you can never know exactly what their version of reality is! You have to base your decisions on what you think their perceptions of the project are. Your stakeholder management and communication plans are based on your team’s perceptions of the stakeholder’s perceptions. The advantage of a neutral scenario is this ‘fog’ is the same for everyone but the teams in the class can decide exactly what the right outcome should be. We have seen some amazingly different scenarios created in the minds of teams from the same information and the great thing is they are all 100% correct. The learning comes from dealing with the scenario as imagined and crafting effective communication strategies to manage the stakeholders.

So in short, the reason we use a fictitious scenario is we feel it helps us deliver much better training outcomes for public classes and internal workshops already have a built-in scenario in the organisation.

What’s your experience?

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