Worth Hiding: Valuable Stakeholder Analysis

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The best information on stakeholders is safest hidden away.

That's the gist of a point I made in an article recently.  The point was that good stakeholder information can be so controversial that you cannot place it in a standard stakeholder analysis document.

Stakeholders are a key part of your project workforce. And good stakeholder information is a very valuable project treasure. If you know your stakeholders well, you have already reduced surprises. 

The wise project manager keeps two kinds of stakeholder information. The first kind can be documented in standard forms and posted on sites for document sharing. The second kind should be kept away from public view.

So there is a public analysis and there is a private analysis. Your public analysis, includes information like

  • Preferred methods of communication/interaction
  • Requirements for project
  • Ability to participate
  • Preferred meeting cadence, time of day

Your private analysis can include all the public information, but have extra columns. These extra columns should show

  • Whether the stakeholder is a supporter of the project objective, an active resistor, a passive resistor, or a "bedfellow". A bedfellow is  passive supporter.
  • How it is to work with
  • Conflicts with other stakeholders
  • Level of power or prestige in the organization
  • Conditions of satisfaction (What it takes to be satisfied with project)
  • Needs for interaction / how close to keep
  • Level of interest / impact from project on activities

Consider creating a diagram with level of Power/prestige on the X axis and on the Y axis, a spectrum from  Fully opposes (project), Somewhat opposes, Neutral, Somewhat supports, Fully supports. Place stakeholders within this diagram.

How do you get this information? If you have been in an organization for a long time, you pick it up from experience. If you are new to an organization, then start talking to people informally about the stakeholders. Do your best from it appearing as an interview. You want the feel of a friendly (safe) conversation. Ask questions about the stakeholders.

  • "She says that she is a supporter, but is she really fully supportive of this effort?"
  • "How powerful is this person in the organization?"

And so on. You get the idea.

And, because this private information can be controversial if made public, you'll need to keep this for yourself in your own notebook or somewhere else where it will not get into other's hands. Like any valuable treasure.

Posted on: April 21, 2017 12:07 AM | Permalink

Comments (13)

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This is the portion of PMBOK that you have to know but you better not produce a formal document with the "controversial bits"
The best piece of advice and the unsaid Moses' Commandment is "know thy stakeholder" ! and maintain that deathly silence about them

Right Joe, this is where transparency needs to be tuned back a bit.

Thanks, Stakeholder Analysis is a good topic


Very good

Yes I have learned that silent Stakeholders can make or break your project. It is very true that you should assess all stakeholders involved with your project and be aware of their influence.

Interesting article, thanks.

Classifying your stakeholders whether they are influencers, opposers, etc. help you determine the ways to manage their expectations. Thank you for sharing your article.

Thanks for the article Joe.

Thanks for sharing article Joe.

In fact, this article is a valuable treasure to me. Thanks for sharing.

Great article once again!

Fantastic article, Joe. Thanks for setting things so crisply.

I would request for a follow-up on your experience on what you would do once you have this map/chart prepared.

What would your strategies be to handle high-power x opposes stakeholders? Or for toxic team members (that may fall under low-power x opposes)? Or, indeed, how best could one leverage on all the stakeholders in supportive category?


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"Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age 18."

- Albert Einstein



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