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Taming tigers: Managing Complex Stakeholder Environments


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Do you have complex stakeholder relationships? I've worked with many organizations to help them with this. Here's a presentation I gave at BCIT that has a fun approach to stakeholder relations.

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Taming tigers: Managing Complex Stakeholder Environments

  3. 3. WHO AM I? • I have 3 stakeholders – 2 daughters (19 yrs and 22 yrs) and my wife • I have dozens of stakeholders who I work for
  4. 4. ALSO… • I am a creative technologist, artist, facilitator and digital strategist • I work with social change organizations
  5. 5. Our clients
  6. 6. WHAT WILL YOU LEARN • IDENTIFY Different stakeholders • Understand the principles that build stakeholder management
  8. 8. highly improvisational: coworking 8 The work world is changing
  9. 9. The world is more complex
  10. 10. We need a new framework to think about how to manage. a mindset and worldview that helps us to make be8er decisions
  11. 11. Managing for stakeholders is a simple way to understand a complex world
  12. 12. Turn to your neighbour - How do you define a stakeholder in your projects?
  13. 13. WHAT IS A STAKEHOLDER? Stakeholders are the people that can affect, or be affected, by the achievement of a organization’s core purpose
  14. 14. BUT HOW TO IDENTIFY STAKEHOLDERS? • Convene a diverse group of people and ask them who is affected by the org and who can affect it • People will easily identify and prioritize stakeholders • Challenge is that often, orgs will not listen to critical groups
  15. 15. PMP LANGUAGE • Stakeholder defini/on – Interest – Involvement – Impact – Influence – interdependency • Stakeholder levels – Unaware – Resistant – Neutral – Supportive – leading
  16. 16. “If I can look out through your perspective and you through mine, we may both see something that we would not see alone.” - Peter Senge
  17. 17. BUT WAIT, WHAT IS STAKEHOLDER MANAGEMENT? • It’s more than just one project • It’s the worldview that managing all stakeholders is key for increasing value in your organization
  19. 19. SHAREHOLDER = STAKEHOLDER? • Shareholders are key stakeholders • But maximizing value just for them is a mistake • You can achieve the same thing by Creating great products, having satisfied suppliers and engaged employees and being a good community partner • In other words, stakeholder management
  20. 20. PRINCIPLES 1. Stakeholder interests go together over time – Finding intersections of interests leads to value creation – Value creation is a joint process that makes stakeholders better off 2. We need to use simultaneous solutions for multiple stakeholders at Once 3. Everything we do serves stakeholders – don’t keep trading off interests 4. Act with purpose that fulfills commitment to stakeholders Freeman, R. Edward, Jeffrey S. Harrison, and Andrew C. Wicks. Managing for Stakeholders: Survival, Reputation, and Success. New Haven: Yale UP, 2007. Print.
  21. 21. PRINCIPLES 5. Actively engage stakeholders and manage Relationships 6. Dialogue with stakeholders 7. Stakeholders are real people – with real names, faces and children 8. Spend extra energy in understanding segments 9. Engage with primary and secondary Stakeholders 10.Monitor and redesign processes to get better Freeman, R. Edward, Jeffrey S. Harrison, and Andrew C. Wicks. Managing for Stakeholders: Survival, Reputation, and Success. New Haven: Yale UP, 2007. Print.
  22. 22. OBVIOUS FACT Creating value for stakeholders is about understanding and satisfying all their needs and concerns
  23. 23. DON’T • Keep them in the dark • Ask for last-minute support • Expect them to solve your problems • forget that your project success or failure reflects on them
  24. 24. Turn to your neighbour - What is a story you have about stakeholder management gone wrong?
  25. 25. WHAT GOES WRONG? • Catastrophic failures for AN organization • But for people… • Anger, frustration, resentment • People quit • Lose clients/suppliers/partners • Lose sleep
  26. 26. MY STAKEHOLDERS • In my top stakeholders, I had a newborn duckling, a goldfish, a bear, and two 9gers • What do I mean?
  27. 27. Phillip’s Field Guide to Stakeholders
  28. 28. THE NEWBORN DUCKLING STAKEHOLDER: Has never done this before. They need their hand held through whatever it is.
  29. 29. Take time to educate them. Offer additional support, and remember they will grow and remember.
  30. 30. THE FORGETFUL GOLDFISH STAKEHOLDER: These stakeholders can never remember what they agreed to, or what was said. They come back to the table with new demands, forgetting that they already accepted earlier requirements or try to reopen closed decisions.
  31. 31. Write everything down and document all decisions. Send minutes to them and keep all documents in a central locale. Meet privately and push for specific decisions
  32. 32. THE BEAR STAKEHOLDER: This stakeholder is straightforward and has much of the institutional knowledge. They are powerful and can contribute a lot. You do need to keep them up to date. Don’t surprise a bear.
  33. 33. These are allies if treated well. Respect and honour their memory. Ask about it and bounce ideas off them. DO NOT SURPRISE THEM. Keep them up to date always!
  34. 34. THE TIGER STAKEHOLDER: Proud, majestic, and wise, these are the most important ones as they are effective and powerful, but have a bite. Treated incorrectly, they can kill.
  35. 35. Ally with them and acknowledge all requests. Keep them forefront in your mind. They might be indifferent. Ensure you keep checking in. Don’t let them get “hangry.”
  36. 36. THE RAVEN STAKEHOLDER can be tricky, but also is smart and courageous. They are aligned to what’s best for them.
  37. 37. Make clear what’s good for the org. is good for them. Don’t try to bafflegab them, they are too smart. They act independently so make sure you check in often.
  38. 38. THE SALMON STAKEHOLDER: Powerful swimmers upstream even in the most major current. Not a lot of initiative, but amazing colleagues and workers.
  39. 39. Ensure they have the right work to do. They will get it done despite obstacles.
  40. 40. THE BEAVER STAKEHOLDER: Obviously hardworking. Key is to focus their work on what you need done.
  41. 41. THE INDIRECT CRAB STAKEHOLDER: You are not allowed to talk to the right people. You aren’t able to figure out what’s going on. This is a serious one because you can’t react.
  42. 42. Build rela*onships directly with this person. Social connec*ons preferably. Set up opportuni*es to support them bringing in the right people earlier than they want.
  43. 43. THE VANISHING COUGAR STAKEHOLDER: After a strong start, they disappear. You can’t depend on them as they just don’t show up. Until it’s too late.
  44. 44. Ask them to honestly assess their time. Assign them to a more advisory capacity. Often they can be very helpful, but only in advice.
  45. 45. THE SEAGULL SHORT-TERM STAKEHOLDER: They come in for a short time, fly around and squawk orders and then disappear again.
  46. 46. Super frustrating Stakeholder as they are not able to focus on the work that has happened. Keep them overly updated and ask them for negative option feedback “I’ll assume that you’re ok with this if I don’t hear back from you on X Day.”
  47. 47. THE RHINO STAKEHOLDER: They are passive aggressive or just aggressively negative. It puts off the entire team.
  48. 48. Acknowledge their concerns, but clarify that this is one potential outcome. The focus should be on the positive outcomes first. They also could be privately against the project, so find out by asking open-ended questions.
  49. 49. THE EXCITED SQUIRREL STAKEHOLDER: They are extremely excited, but this leads to a lot of activity, as opposed to work. Well- meaning. You can recognize this one from the frequency of emails they send.
  50. 50. The challenge is to get to be excited in the right direc2on. Match their excitement for when they are doing the right things. Set schedules for the basic work. If too many emails, slowing down the pace of communica2on can help restrict their excitement (but tell them).
  51. 51. THE BAT (SH*T CRAZY) STAKEHOLDER: This one is nuts. Avoid at all costs.
  52. 52. Very tough for you. This type of person can outright lie about issues. Never communicate alone with this person. Document religiously and use multi-party meetings to secure agreement. Ask other colleagues to do the same.
  53. 53. THE CONDESCENDING OWL STAKEHOLDER: The tone is horribly condescending and makes you feel small. They feed off the supposed superiority they have.
  54. 54. The challenge is to get them to see your expertise. My preference is to simply say thank you, but at a certain point, be clear that the behaviour isn’t acceptable. “I appreciate your expertise, but sometimes I can’t ask a question because I feel you don’t respect me. It feels condescending.” (Bring along support!)
  55. 55. THE BOSSY HORSE STAKEHOLDER: They are always telling you what has to happen and by when. Worse, they don’t ever seem to listen.
  56. 56. Set clear limits of how stakeholders will work with your team. Empower your team to push back. Ensure you have roles defined that limit interference.
  57. 57. Along with this Field Guide, what else can you do?
  59. 59. Thank you!