Project Management

Resistant Stakeholders: Dealing With the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

George Jucan is an experienced Project Manager Professional (PMP) with 20 years of technical and management experience in complex environments, both in public and private sector. He is well known in the project management community as a successful IT project management consultant, speaker at public events, trainer and author of project management articles.

Even before stakeholder management was introduced as a new knowledge area in A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)—Fifth Edition, there were many discussions within the project management community about project stakeholders—and rightfully so, because despite all of the machines, tools, techniques and methodologies, at the end of day projects are done…

  • by people (team)
  • with people (partners)
  • and for people (clients)

However, most literature discussing stakeholders in project management takes a passive approach—we’re supposed to discover, analyze and classify them; understand their needs; and cater to those needs by providing them with the information they want, when they want it, and through the channels they want to receive it.

There is an underlying hope with this approach that if we give stakeholders the information they need, they will become engaged and support the project.

But how about the resistant stakeholders? Can we afford to be passive and wait to see if the axe will fall, or should we take a more proactive approach?

Unfortunately, most people don’t like dealing with conflict, or even talking about it—and interacting with resistant stakeholders certainly fits that bill of unpleasant circumstances. However, avoiding (or delaying the acknowledgment and addressing of) …

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