If I had a dime for every copy of every project management article that prodded the reader to further engage stakeholders, I wouldn't have to spend time writing this blog. I could probably buy New Zealand.
Indeed, failure to engage stakeholders has become the cardinal sin of the project management industry if you read all the trade journals. I do believe that they are only a short distance away from requiring all managers of failed projects to wear a scarlet FES, for Failed to Engage Stakeholders, reminiscent of Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel of a very similar name. Being the hopeless iconoclast that I am, I can't help to make the opposite assertion: Project managers should eschew these all-wise, all-knowing stakeholders for the following reasons.
First off, who are we talking about here? Which "stakeholder"? If it's the customer, then, of course, "engage" them (which, I assume means, you talk together). But keep in mind, customer involvement often involves their asking for additional stuff on your project or higher quality standards. The desire to accommodate these stakeholders is the most common cause of that most fatal of project-killers: scope creep. And, once a good dose of scope creep has wrecked your project, it won't do the culpable project manager any good to respond, "I was just engaging the stakeholders!"
Then there are the stakeholders who are neither on your project team nor in your customer's organization: These are "nuisances." If the scope of your project involves doing something that provably impacts others in an adverse manner, that's your customer's problem, isn't it? They probably should have spent a little more time getting the appropriate permits before they ponied up the money for your baseline. And, if these stakeholders don't belong to your or your customer's organizations and aren't provably adversely affected, then they should probably shut up and go away. Does that sound harsh? Okay, they don't have to be ignored or exiled, but they absolutely should not be consulted on what should happen on your project. Indeed, to do so is akin to project management malpractice.
So there. I was getting a little tired of nobody posting comments on my blogs, and I figure this piece will pretty much cure that.