Neglect Quiet Stakeholders at Your Own Peril!
By Kiron D. Bondale
While I’d hate to draw any similarities between project management and psychopaths, there’s a saying which is frequently uttered by the neighbors of serial killers right after they have been apprehended: “But he/she seemed like such a nice, normal person”. This phrase comes to mind when I think about just how complicated stakeholder management can be.
It’s bad enough that you have to manage highly complex projects under challenging or even unrealistic constraints, but when you add to that a mob of stakeholders which occasionally resembles a classroom of unruly preschoolers who’ve consumed too much Halloween candy, and you might be forgiven for dreaming about committing some pretty heinous crimes!
My focus today is not on the needy, high maintenance stakeholders who frequently consume too much of your time. Instead, I wish to warn you about the dangers of ignoring the ones who you never hear from.
Here are just a few ways in which quiet stakeholders could cause you grief:
- They might be actively subverting your project by “poisoning the air” with their staff, your sponsor or with other key stakeholders.
You might assume that they are out there performing the groundwork with their organizations to receive the changes brought about by your project, but they may either be unaware that they need to be doing this, or, because you haven’t followed up with them regularly, they might have given this preparatory work no attention.
If you are not meeting with them regularly to keep them up-to-date on your project, who is? What misconceptions or myths about your project might be getting passed along to them?
They might think you are purposely ignoring them which might turn a potential change advocate into an active resister.
When things get extremely busy on your projects it can become very tempting to consider silent stakeholders as a blessing, but beware – those silent waters might run deep enough to drown your project!
Kiron D. Bondale, PMP, PMI-RMP has managed multiple mid-to-large-sized technology and change management projects, and has worked in both internal and professional services project management capacities. He has setup and managed Project Management Offices (PMO) and has provided project portfolio management and project management consulting services to clients across multiple industries.
Kiron is an active member of the Project Management Institute (PMI) and served as a volunteer director on the Board of the PMI Lakeshore Chapter for six years.
Kiron has published articles on Project and Project Portfolio Management in both project management-specific journals (PM Network, PMI-ISSIG journal, Projects & Profits) as well as industry-specific journals (ILTA Peer-to-peer). He has delivered almost a hundred webinar presentations on a variety of PPM and PM topics and has presented at multiple industry conferences including HIMSS, MISA and ProjectWorld. In addition to this blog, Kiron contributes articles on a monthly basis to ProjectTimes.com.
Kiron is a firm believer that a pragmatic approach to organization change that addresses process & technology, but most important, people will maximize your chances for success. You can reach Kiron at firstname.lastname@example.org