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Stakeholder management. Emotional Intelligence & Knowledge matrix

The Power & Interest grid (P&I) is a simple and effective stakeholder analysis tool that categorizes stakeholders according to their degree of interest and power in the project. The end goal of such a tool is to identify key stakeholders who can make or break the project.

Power and interest are project specific variables. A stakeholder with a high interest and little power in project A can score totally opposite in project B. Typically, one of these four approaches is applied depending on the score: monitor, keep informed, keep satisfied, manage closely. Despite the usefulness of this tool, could stakeholders be mapped out according to project independent variables? At the end of the day, it is frequent to simplify things and define coworkers in two dimensions: emotional intelligence, EI - are they in control of their emotions and show empathy to others? - and knowledge – how much do they really know? A matrix that plots these two variables is useful in putting together a balanced team and opens up the possibility of identifying synergistic effects amongst stakeholders.






Group 1: High EI & High Knowledge

These individuals are likely to be the best fitted in leading (sub)teams. In addition, their wealth of knowledge combined with outstanding EI skills makes them the best candidates to mentor junior or less experienced members, especially from groups 2 and 4. They require minimal supervision and make working with them a rewarding experience. Most likely, they will be on the wish list of future projects or endeavors.

Group 2: High EI & Low Knowledge

Stakeholders in this group have the right mindset to allow further personal growth and development. Their lack of knowledge is compensated by their continuous commitment to hard work. Opportunities to expand their knowledge must be considered to keep them motivated; this could be done by an ad-hoc training program including shadowing a knowledgeable stakeholder from groups 1 or 3.

Group 3. Low EI & High Knowledge

The wealth of knowledge that these stakeholders bring to the table is well needed. However, stakeholders that fall in this category tend to make noise, bypass communication lines and could eventually become a threat to project’s well-being. Assigning them an SME role, as opposed to a leading part, should cover their feeling of importance (it is assumed that every stakeholder wants to feel that what they do matters) and thereby minimize the occurrence of disruptive situations along the way.

Group 4: Low EI & Low Knowledge

Also known as rotten apples. The value added is small compared with the amount of supervision they require. Chances of project derailing skyrocket if too many of these are in the same team. A balanced training comprising soft and hard skills together with the inclusion in a mentoring program are initiatives to consider in order to slowly but surely turn this bad apple into a tasty and juicy one. In some cases, the metamorphose occurs only in one dimension, EI or knowledge, shifting to Groups 2 or 3 respectively.

Posted on: May 04, 2020 08:39 AM | Permalink | Comments (8)

Principled Negotation - So old, so relevant

The skill set of a Project Manager must include the ability to negotiate. Negotiations are the means by which parties can resolve conflicts and thereby arrive at a mutual satisfactory solution. The problem is that often project stakeholders engage in positional bargaining, a negotiation strategy that involves holding onto a fixed idea or position regardless of any underlying interests. In fact, arguing over positions turns out to be inefficient, relationship endangering and might lead to unwise agreements.

An alternative to this is called Principled negotiation. This name was given to the interest-based approach to negotiation set out in the best-known conflict resolution book, Getting to Yes, first published in 1981 by Roger Fisher and William Ury and advocates four fundamental principles of negotiation.



  1. Separate the people from the problem

Every negotiator has interest in both the substance and the relationship. Often the relationship becomes entangled with the problem. Thus, it is imperative to separate the relationship from the substance in order to kick off an effective negotiation.

  1. Focus on interests, not positions

Quite self-explaining. The identification and discussion of interests is a wise manner to route the negotiation towards a conciliation of interests and not positions.

  1. Invent options for mutual gain

Instead of forming a premature judgement of the ideas thrown during a negotiation it is best to ensure an understanding between inventing and deciding. Also, instead of searching for a single answer try to broaden the options (a circle chart can be useful for this purpose). And instead of thinking that “solving their problem is their problem” create an environment that enables making decisions relaxed.  

  1. Insist on using objective criteria

In negotiating to purchase a particular car, we would want to look at what that car sells for at other dealerships. The objective criteria are nothing less and nothing more than factual pieces of information, independent of the parties in the negotiation, that are relevant to what should or should not be agreed to in that negotiation. Principled negotiation produces wise agreements amicably and efficiently.

Principled Negotiation is further enhanced by applying the eight following pillars of negotiable wisdom:

  1. Be conscious of the difference between positons and interest.
  2. Be creative. Using brainstorming techniques, listening to outlandish proposals and opening up to unanticipated possibilities expands agreements opportunities.
  3. Be fair. If people feel a process is fair, they are more likely to make real commitments and are less likely to walk away.
  4. Be prepared to commit.
  5. Be an active listener. Focus on what others say, both their words and their underlying meaning.
  6. Be conscious of the importance of the relationship.
  7. Be aware of BATNAs (Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement).
  8. Be prepared. Study the interests and BATNAs of every possible party.
Posted on: March 06, 2020 06:21 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

"Nothing worth learning can be taught."

- Oscar Wilde



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