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Re-thinking Stakeholder Management

27 Nov 2015
Re-thinking Stakeholder Management

Stakeholder analysis and management has become a key, central activity in project management. Organisations that manage their stakeholder relationships effectively will survive longer and perform better than organisations that don't.

However, as is usual in the project management discipline, the focus is on strategies, tools and techniques and the inputs and outputs that inform and result from them.

This approach misses some of the richness of what a stakeholder management perspective can teach us. It needs a broader perspective. What about elements such as:

Power - so that we don’t only pay attention to those who shout loudest or confuse who is at the top of the hierarchy with who should be at the top

Difference - different stakeholders have fundamentally different interests through self interests which may not be reconcilable    

Complexity - sometimes we may not even be aware that we are a stakeholder until something goes wrong

Inteconnection - in a global world everything has the potential to affect everything else, a flutter in the savings and loan banks in the mid west of the US affecting the wealth of Irish citizens 

Relationships - emotional intelligence being as important as logic to Change (stuff happens)   

Conflict - idealised views of organisation don’t address the reality where difference, power, complexity, interconnection threaten relationships and trust 

Entitlement to being considered and having their needs addressed, often they don’t take on personal or organisational 

Responsibility for contributing as well as expecting. 

If project management is truly to benefit from this essential management way of thinking then understanding, reflecting upon and practising a wider concept of stakeholder management than is sometimes envisaged in simple management tools and techniques is required. The Stakeholder Management and Communications course's primary focus is on analysing stakeholders, which is key to the project's success. This course educates you about proper communication, as it is a necessary skill for project management. Additionally, because every project needs stakeholder's support, you can use the knowledge you gather from this course to understand better what stakeholders expect from the project and choose a way of communication that results in an agreement, not misunderstanding and conflict.

Professor Sebastian Green
Emeritus Professor of Management
Senior Faculty Member: Irish Institute of Project Management