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Topics: Leadership, Stakeholder Management
Stakeholder Register - how much you share and how much you don't?

Reading Miha Lenic's article "Leveraging Your Stakeholder Register" it reminded me that there is a problem with the Stakeholder Register that most authors shy away from because of its ethical implications - the fact that it is being shared with others!

I think we can all agree that the Register has only as much value as the completeness and correctness of the information included. I've seen hundreds of Stakeholder Registers, but I still have to see one that is shared with the entire team and has an accurate description of a negative stakeholder in it!

Everybody records positive or at most neutral statements in the Repository because the person you're writing about may see it, and nobody wants to have a Director coming down on you "How come I'm a blocker to your project? Do I look like a Dangerous stakeholder to you? Don't answer that if you want to keep your job!"

So, if one doesn't accurately record columns such as "influence", "impact", "interest" or similar for the negative stakeholders, is it worth bothering with it at all? We all know that the problems come from negative stakeholders, not from the supportive ones....

My solution is to keep 2 registers, one shared and one for my exclusive use, that expands the shared register with columns that I actually need (see above). Now, ethical purists are saying that this us unethical because I'm hiding information, and my response is that my assessment about someone is private information and does not qualify under "need to know" criteria for information distribution.

What is your perspective about sharing or not, or do you have any other solution to keep useful records (negative) without further destroying the relationship with corresponding stakeholders?
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It is a matter of organizational culture. In my actual place the stakeholder analysis is a required document and the top ten stakeholders (with their analysis) are included into the project charter.

George -

The general sections of a stakeholder register can certainly be shared with all - even attitude towards project as it's unlikely a stakeholder will disagree if they genuinely don't support the project! Where things get tricky is in the stakeholder engagement strategies - those fields should be hidden or dropped when the stakeholder register gets shared.


Agree with Sergio, its a matter of organizational culture. In past my one organisations followed Stakeholder process religiously however other ignored or take it lightly and in unstructured fashion w.r.t analysis, communication or attentions to their needs.

It's similar to a discussion recently on keeping a notebook or diary, where I mentioned that I keep both a public and private one regarding projects. I feel this is a must, as there is plenty of data that may be seen as negative, discouraging and sometimes a little dangerous that should be for our eyes only.

I completely agree George! Not everything is for everyone. If the project sponsor is a true sponsor then the "real" version can be shared with him. Apart from him I hardly see anyone else with whom you could share "your" subjective opinion about them.

Depends on the organizational environment. Certainly, in a vendor-client relationship, there are items meant for internal eyes only. It's finding the right balance of transparency.

Nice question. I agree with you on having 2 versions, one for internal consumption and other to be shared.
The purpose of identifying negative stakeholders is to anticipate the risks and response strategies. It really doesn't matter if it is shared with everyone. The purpose of stakeholder register is less of documentation and more to help you think in various perspectives.

I keep a public and private version. I never share the private version, but use it to accurately describe stakeholders who are project blockers, so I can devise ways to circumvent them. For example, knowing one of my high-level sponsors is 'incompetent and fears making decisions, yet always wants to appear in charge' reminds me to not leave decisions in his hands. Instead, I tend to pose issues to the broader stakeholder audience, so the sponsor is forced to act in a timely manner.

I personally try to share as much as required. We may not need to share all its contents with everybody. I apply a targeted one for every single purpose, though.

On the other side we need to understand why we do project stakeholder analysis and we need to understand that we need to assume our responsability as project/program managers. Perception of reality is subjective. Perception of reality create a reaction to the action that is our project/program. Then, our responsability is to work with stakeholders in all related to their perception aligened with project/program objectives. Sorry, but to have two versions it has no sense and in some point could be considered anti-ethical. On the other side, if you as project/program manager loss credibility then you are died. The attitude must be: thanks God (or any other force in the Universe) I get the information about the perception of this stakeholder as soon as possible. AND REMEMBER: the first activity after identification is TO ELICIT which is the stakeholder perception. It does mean we need to work with stakeholders to get the information from them to complete the stakeholder register. I main, is not what you think it is. Is what your stakeholder say it is in terms of interest, attitude, etc, etc.
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