Voices on Project Management

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Voices on Project Management offers insights, tips, advice and personal stories from project managers in different regions and industries. The goal is to get you thinking, and spark a discussion. So, if you read something that you agree with--or even disagree with--leave a comment.

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Cameron McGaughy
Marian Haus
Lynda Bourne
Lung-Hung Chou
Bernadine Douglas
Kevin Korterud
Conrado Morlan
Peter Tarhanidis
Mario Trentim
Jen Skrabak
David Wakeman
Roberto Toledo
Vivek Prakash
Cyndee Miller
Shobhna Raghupathy
Wanda Curlee
Rex Holmlin
Christian Bisson
Taralyn Frasqueri-Molina
Jess Tayel
Ramiro Rodrigues
Linda Agyapong
Joanna Newman
Soma Bhattacharya

Past Contributers:

Jorge Vald├ęs Garciatorres
Hajar Hamid
Dan Goldfischer
Saira Karim
Jim De Piante
sanjay saini
Judy Umlas
Abdiel Ledesma
Michael Hatfield
Deanna Landers
Alfonso Bucero
Kelley Hunsberger
William Krebs
Peter Taylor
Rebecca Braglio
Geoff Mattie
Dmitri Ivanenko PMP ITIL

Recent Posts

Beware the Dangers of Technical Debt

Business Transformation in Disguise

Tips for Project Success in a Functional Organization

Leadership Lessons From The Soccer Field

5 Steps to Reverse a Project in Chaos

Want Satisfied Stakeholders? Guide Them Through a Learning Process

A successful project must satisfy stakeholders. But how can we agree in advance what success means if we don’t have all the information?

Although you cannot control stakeholders’ expectations, you can influence and persuade them. The key is to engage and involve stakeholders in value creation. Success hinges on a stakeholder-centered approach to project management.

Your job as project manager is a cross between a physician, a consultant and a professor. You have to guide and educate stakeholders, diagnosing their pain to uncover their real needs. If you really want to uncover stakeholders’ needs, you have to learn how to ask the right questions.

Since 2011, I’ve been applying problem structuring methods (PSM) to project management. These methods guide stakeholders through a learning process in which you define the boundaries of a problem to be solved. You understand more as you advance progressively and iteratively, tilting the project toward success.

Soft systems methodology (SSM) is one of the most powerful PSMs I know. It is organized into seven steps:

  1. Problem situation unstructured: area of concern, purpose and end objectives.
  2. Problem situation expressed: rich picture created to represent the structure and processes of the problem situation.
  3. Root definition: clarifies what needs to be addressed and which human activity system is of concern. You can have more than one root definition, representing the HAS (human activity system).
  4. Conceptual models: use creativity and logical argument to derive relevant activities in the HAS and build conceptual models in different levels of abstraction.
  5. Comparing #4 to #2 (real world and the conceptual model), provide comments and recommendations.
  6. Identify feasible solutions: you can use a multi-criteria model to compare alternatives.
  7. Improve the problem situation by implementing the solution.

Soft systems methodology (adapted from Checkland, 1981, Fig. 6).

In my next post, I’m going to provide a real project example showing how to use SSM. 

Do you have any other ideas or experience on how to engage your stakeholders in a learning process? Please leave your comments.

 

Posted by Mario Trentim on: August 25, 2015 06:36 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)
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