Advanced Stakeholder Engagement

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Location:  PMKI > People Skills & Advanced PM Techniques > Advanced Stakeholder Engagement. 
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Projects are managed by people, for people and everyone involved is a stakeholder. This subject moves beyond the basics to look at how organizations can build stakeholder engagement into their DNA and create a successful, sustainable outcome..

Topics included in Advanced Stakeholder Engagement:

- Stakeholder Overview, Theory and Research
   - ESEI Stakeholder Engagement
- Defining & Identifying Stakeholders
- Stakeholders and Success
- Analyzing Stakeholders
- Engaging Stakeholders
   - Overview
   - Internal Senior
   - Internal Teams & Colleagues
   - External
- The Stakeholder Circle® Methodology
   - Overview
   - The Stakeholder Circle® Tools & Books
   - Applying the Stakeholder Circle® Methodology
- The Stakeholder Relationship Management Maturity Model (SRMM®)
   - SRMM Overview
   - SRMM Application
- Useful External Web-links & Resources.

Other related sections of the PMKI:

- PMBOK Stakeholder Engagement: stakeholder engagement from the PMBOK perspective
- Communication Management: communication in a project management context.

Stakeholder Overview, Theory and Research

PP: Project Relationship Management and the Stakeholder Circle. A dissertation submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Project Management (DPM). Dr Lynda Bourne investigated the concept that a project’s success or failure is closely aligned with perceptions of the project held by its key stakeholders; and that project teams can manage these perceptions to create success. The research resulted in a new tool, the ‘Stakeholder Circle™’ that maps each stakeholder community in a unique way, allowing the project team to effectively focus its stakeholder engagement strategies.

Download a summary of this thesis presented as a PMI Research Conference Paper.

PP: Practice Note: Advancing theory and practice for successful implementation of Stakeholder Management in organizations. This paper firstly, describes the evolution of the Stakeholder Circle® from a research tool into a commercial project management tool and then into a maturity model (SRMM®) that describes the ‘readiness’ of an organization to successfully implement a stakeholder management culture and practice.

PP: Influence, Stakeholder Mapping and Visualization. Stakeholder identification, management and engagement are recognized as key project management skills that requires both intuition and a strong capacity for analysis. Visualization tools for stakeholder management can be of great value. The development and use of two such tools are described. While they are both independently useful they could be effectively combined.

Prs: Seeing who's there - A Brief History of Stakeholder Mapping & Visualization. This paper focuses on describing the evolution of the concept of stakeholders from the 1970s through to the present day and the closely allied visualization tools used at different times to see ‘who they are’. From this basis a current definition of stakeholders is determined and the merits of a range of current stakeholder management tools briefly described. The paper demonstrates that understanding ‘who’s there’ and more importantly ‘who matters’ is highly dependent on the tools and definitions used.

PP: The Knowledge Management / Relationship Cycle. The Knowledge Management Relationship Cycle describes reciprocity between the data, information and knowledge that is exchanged for the business benefit of the organization between the project and its stakeholders. It charts the strong connections between the organization's KM and the actions of the project Stakeholders in contributing to project success.


The Changing Role of a Project/Program Manager

PP: The Accidental Project Manager – The Getting of Wisdom. The accidental project manager has lived in the folklore of business projects for a generation. This paper will discuss ways to help them increase their chances of achieving project success, including a description of the project management skills and tools needed for success including the Stakeholder Circle.

PP: The future of the PM Hero. The PM’s role is changing from a hero focused on the ‘iron triangle’ to a business leader. Project success is no longer being measured simply in terms of time and cost, but by value created and stakeholder satisfaction. This paper outlines the skills needed to succeed in this emerging environment.


The ESEI Stakeholder Management series

This series of articles maps out the key components of the ESEI stakeholder management approach and show how they support: Ed Freeman’s ‘Stakeholder Theory’, an organizations commitment to both the GRI Sustainability Reporting Guidelines and ISO 26000, and offer a cost effective way to enhance the probability of project, program and organizational success.

- ESEI Stakeholder Management Series Introduction
- Stakeholder Theory
- Stakeholder Management is Free
- Stakeholders and Risk (republished in Russian: Project and Program Management Journal Vol. 43, No. 3, pp. 212-217 - download the article)
- Stakeholder Identification and Prioritization
- Stakeholder Visualization
- Assess Your Stakeholders’ Attitudes
- Monitor your Stakeholder Community Health
- The three types of stakeholder communication
- Communication planning
- Communicating for effect
- Stakeholder Management is no longer optional
- SRMM for Stakeholder management maturity
- Conclusion.



Defining & Identifying Stakeholders

PP: The Stakeholder Chameleon – Ignore at your Peril! This paper presents the results from two case studies that show the strategies needed to engage project stakeholder support are different for every project, even when the stakeholders are the same people.

Prs: Seeing who's there - A Brief History of Stakeholder Mapping & Visualization. This paper focuses on describing the evolution of the concept of stakeholders from the 1970s through to the present day and the closely allied visualization tools used at different times to see ‘who they are’. From this basis a current definition of stakeholders is determined and the merits of a range of current stakeholder management tools briefly described. The paper demonstrates that understanding ‘who’s there’ and more importantly ‘who matters’ is highly dependent on the tools and definitions used.

Art: Key Stakeholders. Defining the difference between a key stakeholder and an important stakeholder.



Stakeholders and Success

Prs: Stakeholder Engagement is ‘free’! The Zero Cost of Stakeholder Relationship Management The concept discussed in this paper is based on the philosophy of the Quality movement that quality is free – investment in stakeholders is balanced by reduction in ‘failure dollars’ of fixing the issues caused by poor stakeholder relationship management. The PMO is ideally placed to champion and facilitate this approach and provide not only support services to achieve this, but also assist in measuring ‘failure dollars’ through its reporting mechanisms.

PP: Avoiding the Successful Failure. Projects can be ‘on time and budget’ and fail! They can also be ‘over’ and succeed. Projects are only successful when their stakeholder’s expectations are delivered. This paper will identify the three elements of ‘stakeholder expectations’: value, relationships and risk. Then describe tools to manage these elements for success.

Art: Success and Stakeholders. Success is ephemeral, it is gifted to you by your stakeholders, and you have to earn the gift, but there is no way of knowing for sure if it will be granted.

Prs: Effective Stakeholder Engagement for Project Success. Some practical insights into the actions that project managers must take to develop that reputation of credibility and competency through managing the relationship with senior stakeholders: influencing decisions, managing resistance to change, and providing a central support structure for stakeholder engagement practices.

PP: Mega Projects, Mega Problems - The critical need for effective stakeholder management. Effective stakeholder management is mandatory for mega-project success in all advanced economies and in most emerging economies. Effective stakeholder management encompasses the project team, the project supply chain and external to the project politicians, ‘the public’ and the media as well as people directly or indirectly impacted by the work or its outcomes. Tools developed to assist in this process will be discussed within the framework of managing mega construction projects to optimist the stakeholder relationships in and around the project and minimize risk exposures.



Analyzing Stakeholders

WP: The Stakeholder Cycle. The effective management of a project’s stakeholders involves a continuous process of analysis and review for effective stakeholder engagement.

PP: A Typology of Operational Approaches for Stakeholder Analysis and Engagement. Findings from this study show that the success of a particular stakeholder management technique depends on internal and external factors, such as the nature of the project, the resources in the organization, and the communication environment. Each approach has its strengths and limitations, so the best way to define a practical technique for effective stakeholder management is to use combinations of elements from each method as circumstances dictate.

PP: Visualizing and Mapping Stakeholder Influence. This paper describes research that was conducted during 2004/2005 centred around the Stakeholder Circle tool, as a means to provide a useful and effective way to visualize stakeholder power and influence that may have pivotal impact on a project’s success or failure.

PP: Visualizing Stakeholder Influence - Two Australian Examples. This paper illustrates the use of the Stakeholder Circle as a tool for measuring and visualizing stakeholder influence drawing upon two case study examples. The paper is exploratory in nature and the case studies used provide a useful vehicle for reflection and sense making. The tool was found by the case study respondents to be useful and that it also complements and enhances risk management.

Blg: The Stakeholder Mutuality Matrix. An analysis of the key sub-set of stakeholders that either require goods, services or other outputs from the project, or have to supply resources, services or support to the project.

Art: Are your stakeholders biased? You are biased, and so is every one of your stakeholders! Complete objectivity is nearly impossible to achieve especially in the realm of stakeholder relationships. We are all innately biased, the best that anyone can achieve is being aware of their various biases and working to minimise their effect on decisions, actions and communication.

WP: The innate effect of Bias. Deeply embedded biases affect every decision we make and affects every relationship and communication. The challenge is to accept people as they are and then work rationally within our innate biases; this needs a rational approach to an irrational problem! This White Paper takes a deeper look into the phenomenon of bias.



Engaging Stakeholders


PP: Achieving a Successful Engagement. Identifying, mapping and prioritizing a project’s stakeholder community is only the beginning. Projects will only be considered successful when their key stakeholders acknowledge they are a success. This requires the project team to effectively engage with each of its key stakeholders to understand and manage their expectations and then deliver to project to meet or exceed the ‘managed expectations’. Stakeholder expectations are never ‘fixed’; effective communication can help change perceptions and expectations to make them realistic and achievable. This paper identifies appropriate strategies and mechanisms to help project managers and team engage effectively and ethically with their key stakeholders to help create a successful project outcome including:
- Identifying and mapping the ‘important’ stakeholders
- Communications theory
- Influence networks
- Measuring ‘supportiveness’ and ‘receptiveness’
- Identifying the current and optimum levels for each
- Planning the communications strategy
- Using the right messages and messengers
- Implementing the communications strategy, and
- Measuring its effectiveness.

Art: Managing Stakeholder Attitudes. A very significant proportion of the risks around most projects are people based. The only way to identify, manage and/or mitigate these risks is by effective two-way communication designed to effect changes in key stakeholder's attitudes towards your project.  

Art: Stakeholder Management from the perspective of Sun Tzu. The supremacy of strategy over tactics, and tactics over reaction, in crafting effective stakeholder relationships.

Prs: 7½ tips for managing internal stakeholders: engaging stakeholders for maximum effect. Every action and activity involves stakeholders (but they may be different every time) These tips help you to know who is important for your success and communicate effectively to achieve a successful engagement: information is the basis of communication and comes in various disguises.

Art: Stakeholders - from confrontation to engagement. For most stakeholders, how you choose to deal with them is largely up to you. This article outlines the three basic ways you can deal with stakeholders.

Art: Communicating in Conflict. One of the realities of life is every once in a while, you are going to become embroiled in a dispute or argument that is emotional and personal. This article maps out a set of strategies that can help you stay focused on using communication to achieve a pragmatic outcome you can 'live with'.

WP: Communication Theory. Effective communication is the foundation of effective stakeholder engagement.This paper outlines the theory of communication.

PP: Beyond Reporting - The Communication Strategy. Communication is a science and an art. Communicating effectively with the project’s important stakeholders, so that their expectations can be both managed and met, is central to achieving a successful outcome. Reports are not enough! Communication is a complex two way process within the overall relationship between the project and the stakeholder. This paper identifies the key processes involved in developing and implementing an effective communication strategy.

PP: Communications Control? Information supports the decision makers, informs people and organizations of the work required to be done, monitors progress, and provides support and assurance at all levels of the organization of progress or of the need for intervention. This paper explores how communication in the form of information exchange controls and assists the work of organizations to deliver value to all stakeholders.

Art: Stakeholders and Complexity. Project ‘control systems’ don’t control anything and to a large extent, neither can project managers.In the complex world of the 21st century, communicating to influence outcomes is the key to success.

WP: Win-Win Negotiations. There are many advantages to win-win strategies when stakeholder engagement is considered, such as long-term business relationships, efficient processes and more value in the outcomes for both sides. The idea of a win-win can be very appealing but needs skill to achieve.


Internal Senior

PP: Advising Upwards – Helping your Managers Help You. Advising upwards is a difficult skill for project and program managers to acquire. This paper uses modern stakeholder management theory as the basis for approaches designed to help successfully deliver projects within traditional organizations by appreciating the communication needs of senior executives and incorporating mutuality within the key supportive relationships.

WP: A Project Manager’s Mangers. The key senior management stakeholders who, when properly engaged, provide direction and support to the project manager.

Prs: Motivate your Manager! This presentation focuses on a range of communication tools and methodologies project and program managers can deploy to motivate their managers to help them succeed. In most cases, a successful outcome is directly beneficial to the manager; the challenge is making the right connections.

PP: From Commander to Sponsor: Managing Upwards in the Project Environment. This paper provides a foundation for exploration of the tasks needed to turn a senior manager 'Commander' into a supportive Sponsor and how to use the resources available in the form of influence networks, targeted communication and plain persistence. Case studies based on experiences of the authors, in large organizations, in managing the expectations and the support of key senior stakeholders are used to ground the paper.

Art: Influence without authority. How to build credibility and acquire the ‘currency’ you need to trade for the support and help you require.


Internal Teams & Colleagues

WP: Leadership. To survive and succeed in this VUCA world, leaders need to focus on, creating clarity, building unity,supporting inclusion, and fostering agility to assist in grounding and focusing their people during times of change;which requires both the leader and their team to be focused, committed, engaged, involved and flexible.

WP: Motivation. One of the key skills required by project managers is the ability to motivate team members and the wider stakeholder community, good managers lead and motivate their teams helping them be successful.

WP: The Art of Delegation. Effective delegation is the key to success, it frees up your time to manage and helps team member grow.

Art: Practical Stakeholder Engagement. Four of the basic ‘good practices’ that help you engage with your team and other stakeholders.

WP: Managing Meetings. Meetings are a key part of all projects and central to effective communication and stakeholder engagement provided they are managed effectively.

WP: Issues Management. Every issue comes with a stakeholder attached! Effective processes are needed to identify, prioritize, and manage issues.



Art: Lifting Stakeholder Management to the Next Level. Exemplary customer service often costs nothing (and can save money), but if there is a cost the value gained usually outweighs the price paid.

Prs: Stakeholder Relationship Management in the Supply Chain. Effective procurement leadership requires the skills and knowledge to engage effectively with a wide range of stakeholders. This paper outlines the critical role stakeholders play in the operation of an effective supply chain and suggests a range of techniques supply chain professionals can apply to enhance their organization's stakeholder relationship management capabilities.

Prs: Trust: a tale of two constructions. Building and maintaining effective relationships is not easy. It requires both parties to recognize that there will be differing expectations and definitions of success and requires work to develop the necessary trust through understanding the expectations of important stakeholders. Wembley Stadium illustrates how a lack of trust and ‘hard dollar’ contracts impacted relationships between the delivery partners; whereas Heathrow Terminal 5 proves the benefits derived from working to develop trust are well worth the effort.

PP: Why is stakeholder management so difficult? The focus of this paper is the construction and operation of Heathrow Terminal 5 for British Airways. Through tracing its development from a successful construction project to its disastrous opening in 2008 a methodology to assist organizations in effective engagement of a project’s important stakeholders is described and lessons that will benefit all projects are identified.

Art: Stakeholder engagement by any other name. From an organizational perspective stakeholder engagement is a means to achieving outcomes that are both commercially desirable and necessary. This article describes some of the overarching terms that incorporate stakeholder engagement as a core competency.



Useful External Web-links & Resources

Stakeholder Engagement Analytics -

Stakeholder Circle - 


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