Project Management

Managing Opposition the Right Way

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at [email protected] Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

I’m sure most of you are aware that the new Seventh Edition of A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) was recently released (you can download a copy for free if you’re a PMI member). Among the new eight performance domains is one for stakeholders (in fact, it’s the first one on the list). And right at the start of the stakeholder section is a comment that effective execution results in a number of outcomes, including that “stakeholders who may oppose the project or its deliverables do not negatively impact project outcomes.”

I love that comment for a number of reasons. For a start, it acknowledges that not every stakeholder is engaged in the success of the project. Secondly, it recognizes that those individuals who may be opposed are still stakeholders and need to be engaged and managed. And thirdly, it sets success criteria for that management—that the opposing stakeholders don’t negatively impact project outcomes.

Compare that with the approach that many of us take with such stakeholders—if we’re honest, we often try and ignore them as much as possible in the hope they’ll go away. That rarely works, and it’s not the right approach—so let’s consider how to ensure that we are managing those opposing stakeholders appropriately so that our projects have the best …

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