The new Knowledge Area, stakeholder management, was cheerfully welcomed in A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)—Fifth Edition.
Figure 1: Lack of stakeholder management leads to poor results. (Trentim, 2013)
Most of us rely on soft skills, communication and leadership to manage stakeholders. But while they’re helpful, interpersonal skills are far from being the sole way to implement stakeholder management. As a matter of fact, there are hard skills in stakeholder management — tools, techniques and methods that should be diligently applied to enhance stakeholder management and improve project success rates.
For example, there are at least 10 different tools for stakeholder identification. Often, project managers rely only on brainstorming to write a stakeholder registry, conforming to the methodology imposed by a project management office (PMO). That’s why I believe we need a paradigm shift.
A project manager’s goal is to add value. Value depends on stakeholder expectations and perception. Consequently, the project manager’s goal is to engage and involve stakeholders in value creation. This is what we call managing for stakeholders.
On the contrary, the term stakeholder management assumes we can manage expectations. This is wrong. We cannot manage people, to paraphrase U.S. author and businessman Stephen Covey. We lead people. We persuade and influence stakeholders.
In 2013, the Project Management Institute published my book, Managing Stakeholders as Clients. It presents a framework with a paradigm shift from traditional stakeholder management by first setting the premise that we can’t manage stakeholders or their expectations — we can only lead, influence and persuade people. To my surprise, I was the recipient of PMI Educational Foundation’s 2014 Kerzner Award* at PMI® Global Congress 2014—North Americafor my results in managing projects and programs. But in particular, the award recognized my creation of this stakeholder management framework and the results of its application.
The main difference between stakeholder management and managing for stakeholders is this: Stakeholder management’s goal is to manage stakeholders’ expectations, enhancing support and reducing negative impacts — a reactive measure. It’s almost as if project managers develop stakeholder management plans to protect themselves from external interference.
Managing for stakeholders means involving and engaging stakeholders in value creation, boosting their support and having them take ownership in a proactive way. Managing for stakeholders embraces change as a learning process.
While stakeholder management is instrumental, employing processes for conformity, managing for stakeholders is results-oriented. In summary, stakeholder management is an attempt to manage stakeholders’ expectations toward the project. On the other hand, managing for stakeholders is clearly oriented to manage the project and its results for the stakeholders, on behalf of their changing needs and expectations.
Now that it’s clear we should start approaching stakeholder management from a different perspective, in my next post I’ll share more tips and details from Managing Stakeholders as Clients. Don’t miss it!
How do you manage for stakeholders?
*The PMI Educational Foundationadministers the prestigious Kerzner Award. The Kerzner Award is sponsored by International Institute for Learning, Inc. (IIL)to recognize a project manager who most emulates the professional dedication and excellence of Dr. Harold Kerzner, PhD, MS, MBA.
Every project or program should express an organization’s strategy. It’s a fundamental truth, yet many executives misunderstand strategy, or fail to communicate it throughout the organization, said author Michael E. Porter, PhD, a keynoter at PMO Symposium 2014.
Symposium wasn’t all keynote speeches, though. Attendees also saw project and program management in action at local hotspots, including Marlins Park, Port of Miami and Jungle Island.
The war for project talent rages around the globe — and many organizations are paying a heavy price because they can’t execute strategy.
Just because someone has valuable skills doesn’t mean they’ll be motivated to advance in an organization, Dr. Hoffman said. Organizations must cultivate talent by offering meaningful work and offering opportunities for them to grow and develop.
To win the talent war, organizations must rethink their approach, said Mary Lyons of PwC during the panel discussion. And that will require broad leadership support, commitment to cultural change and a solid business case to sustain momentum.
By Conrado Morlan
Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a project management symposium in which government and for profit organizations shared their successes in aligning projects with organizational strategy. The takeaways of the sessions are listed below:
Takeaway: Understand how projects impact the business.The CIO of 7-Eleven explained that he had held several leadership positions at the U.S.-based convenience store company — from logistics and merchandising to operations divisions. With that deep knowledge of the business, he was able to reorganize the IT department from a business perspective. The new focus became selecting and strategically structuring priorities that align the IT function and projects with business needs to gain full support from stakeholders, and to execute and prioritize business initiatives through innovative technology.
The 7-Eleven example confirms that strategic and business acumen are part of the next generation of project management skills — or the “talent triangle”— that will assist organizations to effectively and efficiently achieve alignment of projects with strategy.
Takeaway: Set the framework from the start and at every level. Southwest Airlines described how its five strategic initiatives were determined through portfolio management, program management and project management, which set the foundation for the airline’s growth in international markets.
Organizations are finding their employees know what they need to do to perform well in their current jobs, but very few are clear about what is required over the long-term. Therefore, employees need to be familiar with the organization's strategy to understand their role and responsibility and how their contributions will benefit the organization.
While none of the keynote speakers referred formally to Organizational Project Management (OPM) — the strategy execution framework used to align and customize project, program and portfolio management processes to consistently and predictable deliver corporate strategy to produce better results and sustainable competitive advantage— the steps their organizations followed are ones suggested in PMI’s Implementing Organizational Project Management: A Practice Guide.
With the guide, project management practitioners and cross-functional team members can learn how an effective project management methodology and globally accepted best practices integrate with business-specific processes and techniques. In addition, they can learn about tools to help the organization develop a living and evolving methodology that enables the assessment and refinement of its practices.
Has your organization started any effort to elevate the project management discipline to a strategic level? If so, how is it achieving this goal?
Project management offices (PMOs) must prove their value by transforming strategy into business results, said PMI president and CEO Mark A. Langley as he kicked off PMO Symposium 2014 in Miami, Florida, USA.
Sarina Arcari (far left) accepts the PMO of the Year award on behalf of the WellPoint team.