Tag Archives: Stakeholder Circle

Papa Elf, the man behind the man, on stakeholder management

The-PenguinDoes Santa use the SRMM® maturity model to enhance his organisations stakeholder management practices?

This interview published in the ‘the penguin’ would suggest Papa Elf, the man behind the man, is at least acquainted with the Stakeholder® Circle methodology and his grotto organisation has achieved a high level of ‘Stakeholder Relationship Maturity’ – we will know for sure in a few days time……

To read the full interview with Papa Elf see: http://projectpenguindotorg.wordpress.com/2013/12/19/papa-elf-on-stakeholder-management/

System Support?

At times I’m pleased we only have to support our Stakeholder Circle software. The following was forwarded by a colleague – the veracity of the conversation cannot be determined!

Support log:
Caller : Hi, our printer is not working..
Customer Service: What is wrong with it?
Caller : Mouse is jammed.
Customer Service: Mouse? … Printers don’t have a mouse!!!
Caller: Mmmmm??.. Oh really? .. I will send a picture.

Stakeholder Circle in the ‘cloud’

The Stakeholder Circle® methodology and tools have been in use for several years. However, many potential business users found accessing the system difficult, with company policies preventing the installation of the necessary software.

By moving to ‘the cloud’ and transitioning to a standard Microsoft operating environment these issues should be in the past. Anyone on any computer platform can access the tool running on our secure servers and larger corporations can elect to install the system on their own intranets. The flexibility of ‘the cloud’ has also allowed us to offer an increased range of options to suite organisations of all sizes.

As part of the overall system upgrade, we have also enhanced our websites:

  • Our Stakeholder Relationship Management website has been overhauled and is being progressively developed into the world’s leading resource for stakeholder management information. See: http://www.stakeholdermapping.com 
  • The Stakeholder Circle website has been simplified and now focuses on the Stakeholder Circle® tools, methodology and a comprehensive help system, see: http://www.stakeholder-management.com

We have set up a separate server to allow interested people to try out the new ‘cloud’ version of the Stakeholder Circle® register on-line at http://www.stakeholdermapping.com/free-trial and your access information will be emailed to you within a few minutes.

Stakeholder Management Thesis

My original thesis has recently been published as a book by Lambert Academic Publishing AG & Co (www.lappublishing.com).

Details of the book are:
Project Relationship Management and the Stakeholder Circle [Paperback]
ISBN-13: 978-3838398167
Available from Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/Project-Relationship-Management-Stakeholder-Circle/dp/3838398165/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1282809735&sr=1-1

The research described in my thesis underpins the Stakeholder Circle methodology and tools which led to the publication of Stakeholder Relationship Management: A Maturity Model for Organisational Implementation and the SRMM maturity model available from Gower Publishing at http://www.gowerpub.com/isbn/9780566088643

The Central Role of Stakeholder Management

20 years ago, stakeholder management and shareholder/owner management were almost synonymous. In the intervening period, much has changed.

Most enlightened thinkers now place stakeholder management at the centre of effective business operations. The business needs to support, empower and satisfy the people working within the organisation, the general public and customers (now classes as Corporate Social Responsibility or CSR) and the owners of the business. All of these people are stakeholders.

Since the passing of the Sarbanes Oxley Act, organisational governance has become an important focus. For all types of organisation this is directly linked to governing the work of the people engaged in the work of the business; ie, stakeholders.

Since the GFC effective risk management has also become of increasing concern. Risk management is not the foolish attempt to avoid all risk – this is impossible, rather the effective management of risk within the risk tolerance thresholds of key stakeholders including the organisations owners and managers; ie, stakeholders.

Stakeholder Management

As summarised by the diagram above, business operations are intrinsically linked to, and require, effective governance, to meet the expectation of the organisations owners, within acceptable risk parameters to deliver value to society and the organisations clients or customers.

However, whilst stakeholder management is central to all of these processes, effective stakeholder management requires the allocation of scarce management resources to focus on the relationships between the work and the most important stakeholders. At the most fundamental level, the purpose of the Stakeholder Circle® methodology is understand ‘who’s who, and who’s important’ in the stakeholder community surrounding your work.

Once you understand this the effective management of stakeholders becomes possible. However, without the clarity of insight created by the careful analysis of the stakeholder community to determine who is really important the potential for wasted effort is enormous. As with most planning process, the payback from effort expended in analysis, is the reduced incidence of issues and problems as the work proceeds.

Can you afford not to focus some effort on effective stakeholder management?

Construction Stakeholder Management

Wiley-Blackwell has published a new book on stakeholder management in the construction industry, edited by Ezekiel Chinyio from the University of Wolverhampton and Paul Olomolaiye from the University of the West of England. This book is designed to map the current state of stakeholder management in the construction industry with input from a range of well known academics and researchers.

Our chapter on Mapping Stakeholders can be previewed on our Interesting Book’s page with links through to the publisher’s web site.

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?

Success and Stakeholders

I have been putting the hard yards into finishing my new book on Stakeholder Relationship Management Maturity (SRMM®) over the holiday period and have been considering the relationship between success and stakeholders.

One potential conclusion is that success is gifted to you by your stakeholders, you have to earn the gift but there is no way of knowing for sure if it will be granted. This means as a project manager, sports person or business executive, you have to put the effort in to ‘win’ by delivering ‘on-time and on-budget’, finishing first or achieving the planned objective; but achievement on its own does not translate to success. Success is when your achievement is acknowledged by your key stakeholders and they declare it a ‘success’.

Some of the world’s most famous buildings were project management disasters, but they are now considered outstanding successes. The Sydney Opera House overran time, overran budget and the original scope not achieved. The London Eye needed an additional £48 million loan from British Airways to finance is construction in addition to the original capital raising and was months late in opening to the public (in 2005 BA sold its share of the project for £95m and waived £60m of unpaid interest).

Success seems to come from a combination of two factors. One is delivering something of real value to the stakeholder. The other is when a critical mass of key stakeholders recognises the value and appreciates it. Value is not a synonym for ‘on-time and on-budget’ these two factors only matter to the extent that they impact on the usefulness of the outcome when it’s actually used by the stakeholders. Certainly time and money may be important, more often they are not; particularly if a longer term view of benefits realisation is considered. Benefits are realised when the product is actually used and this requires the relevant stakeholder’s participation in actually using the product or output to achive the intended outcomes.

Another important factor in achieving success is meeting the stakeholder’s expectations. This involves identifying and managing their expectations (unrealistic expectations are unlikely to be fulfilled) which in turn requires effective two-way communication. But the stakeholder community for any business activity can be huge.

Three groups of Stakeholders

Three groups of Stakeholders

There are a vast number of potential stakeholders who you don’t know and can’t see. This group is often considered as ‘classes’ of stakeholder such as ‘the public’. The only way to reach individual people this group is through broadcasting messages in a similar way to a corporation advertising it brand image to a general audience. Businesses see this activity as Public Relations (PR) or Marketing. In project space, this is the casual audience for general project newsletters, headlines on a project web page and the corporations ‘rumour mill’.

A sub-set of the overall group are the people you know you need to positively influence. In business these groups are the focus of targeted advertising campaigns with specific ‘calls to action’. In project space they may be groups such as the end users of a new system. You need to ‘sell the benefits’ of the product or project to this group so they buy-in to the concept and appreciate the value of the outcome you are creating. There are still too many for one-on-one communication but a carefully planned ‘sales campaign’ associated with effective change management and similar initiatives are critical if you expect a successful outcome. Many of this group may be recipients of routine monthly reports and the like but more is needed; you need to create positive expectations and then deliver on them.

The smallest and most important group are the key stakeholders who wield significant influence or power. This group require targeted one-on-one communication to build and foster positive relationships. It’s a two way process, you need support from them, they need to appreciate the benefits your project or activity will deliver. The Stakeholder Circle® methodology and tools are focused on identifying the ‘right’ stakeholders at the ‘right’ time in a project for this critical communication activity. Failure with this group will generally cause your project to fail and before you can ‘win’ you first have to ‘not lose’!

However, the thought in this blog is these key people are probably not enough on their own to declare the final result of your efforts and outstanding success. Real success requires buy-in from a much larger group of stakeholders, such as the 30 million visitors who have ‘flown’ on the London Eye.  But is your organisation mature enough to support the type of structured communication needed to achieve this level of success?

My SRMM® construct addresses the maturity of an organisation to engage in effective stakeholder relationship management and this is a critical start. The bigger question is who’s responsible for the wider communication: the project team, the change manager, the sponsor or the organisation?  Achieving real success is definitely a lot more complex than just being on-time and on-budget….  Perhaps this could be the subject for another book?