Stakeholder Engagement, Not Stakeholder Management
Projects are about people. There is little escaping that fact, although many of our processes and methodologies pay more attention to what we do rather than who we do it with. One of the most commonly used terms in project management to describe people is “stakeholder”, which is an odd word (unless you are fully immersed in the oeuvre of Joss Whedon, and then it means something completely different).
It is also not a word that most of us would routinely apply to ourselves. Greet someone in a meeting, at a conference, on an airplane or even at a cocktail party, and you might introduce yourself by including your job title. Or you might mention the fact that you are “a project manager”. Or, if you’ve been hanging around with IT types for too long, you might refer to yourself as a “subject matter expert” (but we’ll leave that rant for another day). By all accounts, however, I’ve never had someone walk up and introduce themselves to me by saying, “Hi! I’m Susan! I’m a stakeholder!”
Despite this, it’s a word that we as project managers frequently apply to others. If we parse it down to its essential details, what we wind up with is the components of “stake” and “holder”. According to Merriam-Webster, stake can be defined as “a pointed piece of wood or other
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