Basic Project Leadership Skills: Stakeholders | Simon Harris | Skillshare

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Basic Project Leadership Skills: Stakeholders

teacher avatar Simon Harris, Seeking common sense for an often irrational world

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

6 Lessons (31m)
    • 1. 0 Simon's Intro

    • 2. 1 Characteristics of Teams

    • 3. 2 Power and Interest Grid

    • 4. 3 Influence Mapping to Start Comms Planning

    • 5. 4 WIIIFM (!)

    • 6. 5 Summary

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About This Class

Everyone who needs or wants to achieve results through, with or for (and despite!) others will benefit from understanding how to engage with stakeholders.
"Stakeholders" is an 'awkward' title for a topic that comes down to promoting good communications.
This course is focused on how to. It isn't short; that's just the amount of talking I do! The real length is in the work you do to apply it.
I'll give you the tools and the inspiration.
Its up to you whether you apply them
The content I provide IS oriented to enable you to do that (if you disagree or need help then reach out :-)

Meet Your Teacher

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Simon Harris

Seeking common sense for an often irrational world


Hello :)

I'm Simon, I live in Edinburgh Scotland with my wife Lea. We have a daughter Becky close by and son Toby in UAE.

My topic is (almost) Project Management...

...which I believe needs to be rethought for most people's real needs most of the time. My passion is to add the common sense that the text books manage to filter out.

BUT you (I) can't turn the tide. The 'text-book' knowledge underpins most professional credentials and it is foundational. So I help folk with both "how to do it for real" and "how to prepare for professional exams".



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1. 0 Simon's Intro: Hello, my name is Simon and I will be your guide and your host through this short course. I'm gonna suggest that you have to needs at the moment. One is this topic irrelevance to me and to, is this guy worth listening to? So if I chose to put them on the screen, I would have a string of letters after my name that relates to project management and the topic of stake holders and the like. But I don't choose to put them on the screen because I think that the whole industry idea of qualifying people and allowing them to use post phenomenon has gone a bit silly. It no longer I think, communicates value. And I also think that publications like this one, which I am expert in, rather lost the point about why we did all this stuff in the pursuit of money for exams. So I haven't put all the qualifications up there, but I do have 40 years experience doing this stuff. And I've learned a bit while I've been doing it. So I'll leave the question of whether this guy is worth listening to, up to you to decide in the next minute or however long it takes you to come to those conclusions. The question about whether this is relevant to you, I think the answer is yes. All of us are in situations where we have people around us who influence us and who we influence. And that applies as much in our social as all our other spheres of activity. Although I am in this conversation gonna focus on the idea that we are either a formally appointed or an accidentally appointed project manager, project participants or organisational manager, leader or team member or participants, which I think probably pretty much covers everything rarely. And in those contexts. So that business, the organisational, the club, the, any group of people trying to achieve things. As soon as you get into the situation where you're trying to achieve things through other people than we are in the situation of trying to understand and influence and, and the word that's not in any of the books and is perhaps the Bedouin the least acceptable one? The most honest one is manipulate. We are seeking in stakeholder engagement, in stakeholder management to understand people's opinions. And to harness those opinions to achieving outcomes. Or recognizing when those opinions are counter to our interests. And being able to behave appropriately to pursue the interests of either ourselves or if you're in project environments, are sponsors, or if we're in organisations and Operations, the aims that either we generate or are handed to us. And that's what we're gonna do in this conversation that follows. Understand how we might use our and other people's influences in order to be able to better achieve power and other people's aims. Or perhaps I shouldn't be saying this frustrate other people's aims. No, I'm not actually gonna go in that direction. I'm going to cover the positives and the negatives. So if you still think you're with me, let's head into the next slide. 2. 1 Characteristics of Teams: Okay, let's consider a project, but it doesn't have to be a project. I'm just giving it context. A project is a journey taken by people together. And it's delivered by the efforts of a team. So if we're going to start considering stakeholders and we're gonna get some practical how-to. One of the things that we're going to need to understand is how do we build teams? And I think to build teams, our first step is to understand what one is. So I think it would be good for you if you pause the video at this point and is considered the question, What's a team? And you might approach that question by asking what are the characteristics or properties, strengths, and weaknesses perhaps of a team. Suppose the video and think, what is the definition of a team? What are the characteristics of a team? Is this. Welcome back. I'd like to test your definitions now. On the left-hand side, I have a picture of a group of people. And I don't think they're a team because they don't have one of the first characteristics of a team, which is a common goal, a mutual end point. And I think that that is illustrated by the group of people at the bus stop. So all the people standing at the bus stop have a common aim here. Their interest is to climb on the boss. As they take that journey. They will, however, get off the bus at different times and as the bus proceeds, people at different bus stops will go on. So these people are not a team. Although that's not to say that every member of a team needs to join and leave at the same time. But and those people at the bus stop, not being a team do share a common aim. So common aim is one characteristic of attainment not sufficient. To actually define team. To be sufficient, we need what the people on the right hand side have. Now the people on the right hand side, if I try and describe them, I have to say they're a tug-of-war team. I have to use the word team to describe them. And the question is, what's the essential characteristic that they're demonstrating that makes them a team. And the test with your definition of the team was, did you identify it's a group of people with a common aim Who are mutually dependent upon each other. In order to achieve that aim, if you did give yourself a pat on the back, give yourself a gold star. So a project team or any other team is a group of people who share a common aim and are mutually dependent upon each other to achieve that aim. Now it might go a little bit further and say things like they have a set of skills that together are complete. And we could point out that they don't have to have the same skills, but between them, they have to have all the required skills. Just like they don't have to get on or off the bus at the same time in order to be sharing a portion of the journey. So now we know what a team is. We should ask the next question about stakeholders, but let's just recap. Be good if you paused and recapped for yourself because that repetition will cement in your mind. But my recap for you is a team of a group of people with a common aim and a mutual dependency upon the capabilities, which often means skills, but not entirely. Let's move on. 3. 2 Power and Interest Grid: When we start looking at stakeholders, we need to ask ourselves the question, which stake holders require, deserve, reward, etcetera, the most amount of time and effort spent on them. The challenge with stakeholders is not all stake holders are equal. And the first step in the stakeholder process is to consider who are the stakeholders? And the simplest answer to that is everyone. But that very rapidly then begs the question, how do I cope with dealing with everybody who's a stakeholder? And the answer that comes from that is, well, we need to separate or segment our stakeholders into those who have the most relevance or significance to us. And then we ask, well, how do I determine relevance and significance? And that's where we asked the power and interest questions. So what maybe one of the ways in which we start to do that then is it's time for a tool. It's time to sort of understand how we might start analyzing our stake holders. So step number one in stakeholder engagement or stakeholder management is to identify who our stakeholders are. And as soon as we start doing that, we get an enormously long list because our stakeholders are everyone. In fact, you might pause now and just consider for any context you like project piece of work club, you belong to. Just the people in the same street as you, or possibly even the people who get on the same butters you in the morning assuming that you get on a bus. What's my list of stakeholders? And as you build that list, you maybe want to think about trying to analyze it and dividing it in two different ways. And I'm going to draw you a picture here with a bit of luck. I'm going to draw an axis in this direction. And I am going to say there are some stakeholders who are positive. And there are some stakeholders who, uh, negative. And stakeholders lives somewhere on that spectrum. And stakeholders have power. So we could say the other access was interest. And that power and interest may relate to the outcome or it may relate to the journey. Now the reason that I said to you earlier that the state, that the textbooks are not very good is because the average tape book just draws us the top right-hand corner quadrant and says power and interest. And it goes from 0 to positive, and it doesn't, it goes from highly negative to highly positive. And it says that they have power, and yet they do, but their power relates to things like outcome and enabling. An external to the project and journey and achievement and internal to the project. So I'm going to say that the people down here are the team. And now I want to do some analysis or some thinking with this model. Now I've drawn the axes for you. The next question is to say, how am I going to use this diagram? So the first question that I have for you is to ask the question, what about the folk in this corner? They have an interest in the outcome. There, probably external to the core project team, but they're definitely deeply concerned with what we're going to achieve. And they have power. So these are the folk that I am going to ask for help from. I was a PI to sort of help I typically one is resources and budget and authorization. The next question I'm going to ask is, what about the folk who are here? They don't have power but they have interest. So my observation is that if I can group them together, I move them in the direction. Being more powerful, and then they can be helpful to me. So now I've started to think, Where would I put people on this grid? And you might like to pause and put your list of people on the grid. But I've got a little bit more explaining to do first. Well, first you can pause whenever you wish. The folk who are here also have power, but they are mostly neutral. So these are good people to ask for advice because their opinions are likely to be unbiased. And either of the extremes are likely to be people with bias. And I typically don't want bias when I'm asking for advice, I do want bias when I'm asking for resources. Positive bias, not negative bias. And that could be a question about what do we do with these people? And the classic mistake is to ignore them. So we won't ignore them. Because if they group together, they gave power. And if we've gotten, we've made a mistake, then ignoring them was a bad idea. And then the next question is, what do you do with these people? And the obvious answer is to keep them separate because you don't want them gaining power. And then the next question is, what do you do with these people? And the answer there depends on the acceptability. The answer there depends on how political you are. Because you may move as far as misinformed and keep off balance or I don't know what other responses you might think are appropriate. What I will say is that if I want to influence these people in the hope of moving them in this direction, then it's probably these people who are the ones that I should engage and asked to do that. And in asking them to do that, they will only take action if they have a balanced opinion that what we are doing is good. Ising is good stuff. So the conversation between the neutrals and the negatives is generally the way in which I would like to be able to engage conversation with the people who are negative to move them in the right direction, the direction that I think is right. And then he filled in half this picture so far. So I should fill in the bit down here. These are my key team, key team members. They have enthusiasm and energy and they are capable. And I may have folk in the middle here, that is to say they are also capable, but they don't have enthusiasm and energy. In which case, I have not done the stakeholder engagement process well enough. And the journey in this direction is very often accompanied by the initials, What is in it for me or them. And it's establishing the what's in it for me that will likely move people in that direction. And if I have people in this quadrant there in the team and they are negative, then again, I think we have some politics to deal with, but here we have some politics that we, that there's no doubt that we have to deal with. My advice to you. There would be to remove them from the team or to escalate to your sponsor. The fact that these folk are in the team because this is the source of things like sabotage. And I could talk about environments where I have seen sabotage actually happening like different parts of a bit geographically different parts of a business with interests in the same work and deep concerns and fears about there. Security of employment, actually sabotaging things for other groups. But I'm not going to be more specific about even which industry that was him. 4. 3 Influence Mapping to Start Comms Planning: This picture is only half drawn. Let me swap colors so that you can now see where I'm drawing in. Let's go with a light blue. The thing that we really need to understand is that all stakeholder management activity, engagement activity is merely a precursor, many a component of creating the communications plan and executing that communications plan. And every project management text I know of makes the assumption that the project manager is the spider in the middle of a spider's web. And that is not correct. Or if it's anywhere near correct, it's only partially correct. The component part here is I probably, as project manager, need to put myself over here. Not hugely powerful. Not officially powerful generally. But with, I hope, a high degree of interest. If I'm over here, It's to say negative with not powerful than we are in trouble. And I need to go and find some allies to increase my power. And I need to move into the direction of positive or I need to get out of this activity. So project managers probably over there, there's loads of people on this diagram who are going to be in places like this. And there are perhaps people in this diagram who are going to be in places like this. And I hope there are people on the diagram who are in places like this. And very often I'm not entirely sure where they are. So I probably ought to put them on the diagram in terms of a range. And I also say then that this person is in that range. But I'm not gonna keep drawing that because it will make the diagram rather messy. And in fact, I'm actually even gonna get rid of that circle or the, and those axes. Although I do think that they are relevant, I'm only getting rid of them because the diagram will otherwise get too messy to be able to see clearly. So I've said your ready, when there are folk in the middle of the diagram, we ask them for their advice. And we ask them also to be the interface perhaps to other parts of the organization where a direct conversation between the positives and the negatives is not so useful. So actually what I'm doing with this diagram is not asking the question, not just asking the question, who has power and interest. I'm asking the question, who influences who? So what this diagram really ought to be titled and described as is an influence MAP. Notice I've marked at the top with a typo and stakeholder power and interest analysis. The analysis bit. Is asking about the influence. So point number one perhaps to understand is the project manager is not in the middle of every conversation. The project manager needs to establish that conversations between other stake holders, particularly across the team, are going on. Not to be a participant in every one of those conversations. If you're a project manager in Anna thing with domain areas that you are not expert in and you get yourself in the middle of every conversation, then you just screw the conversations up. At best and at work or at worst and at best you just slow them down. So keep yourself out of the conversations you don't need to be part of, but make sure those conversations are happening. So as we do stakeholder analysis, we're really building communications plan. And as we do communications plan, we are asking the twin questions. What information needs to come to us as a project team? And where do we get it from? Who is accountable for giving it to us? How do we ensure that they provide it? And what information as a project team do we need to pass either to each other or to other stakeholders? And it's not as project manager. What's all the communicating I need to do. It's as project. What's all the communicating everybody needs to do. So now we have an analysis tool. And you can see there are two parts to this analysis tool. And there are several steps. And the steps run, identify all your stakeholders. That's a very, very long list drawer aligned somewhere along that list that says below the point where I want to actively try and engage them. And their names would've gone somewhere like that in the middle of the picture. And let, in fact, let's even swap color and go for a red color. And say, these are the, this is the area where there are very many stakeholders and we don't pay a huge amount of attention. We make sure that we monitor them, that we keep them broadcast in formed. But we perhaps don't engage that much more. And then outside picture, who is communicating with WHO and just going to put it in pink and want to make sure that there are strong communications here. And I'll just do it with a circle. I want to make sure there are strong communications down here. There is a formula out there. I'll write it on the board where I've got some space, which is something called brooks law or, or brooks equation, which is says the number of communications pause in a project is n squared minus n. If this rote nicely, it would be coming out okay? Over two. And that's true. If everybody speaks to everybody else. So that might be true if you've got a team of five or seven people, it's not true in a project of a 125 people because you have groups within a 125 people. And the n squared minus two applies to the five or seven or maybe even ten? No, probably not sort of ten in each of the groups. And then each of the groups need to communicate with each other in some fashion. But now we're moving a bit ahead of ourselves in terms of the communications management conversation. And I'm not gonna go into the depths of the communications management here because we're focused on stakeholders. So where was I? I was talking through the steps. Let me recap those. Number one identifiable all the stake holders number to draw a line across it. That's the people that are inside the pink circle in the middle and the ones who are not. Plot the rest on this picture. And identify who is already linked together and who you would like to be linked together. And maybe if you're very political who you would not like to be linked together. And you might also, and I'll put it in green. Consider one other aspect here. I'll put it in green if I can get the pen to come. That there's really a third axes in here, which is the topics over which people have commonality of interests. Not everybody's interested in the same topics. And so this is actually quite a complicated space that we're trying to model here. And that's one of the reasons why stakeholder analysis and stakeholder engagement is a challenge for us all. Because we need to actually identify that there are ebbs and flows and sub conversations going on across the project. But if we just go back to the simple, but who are the stakeholders, who matters, who talks to who? And when we get to communications planning, which will be a different course, we'll ask the question, what conversations are they involved in? How those conversations facilitated, like they're written or or their instant message or whatever else on what timings and triggers and who has what roles and responsibilities in it. So now we have asked the question about power and interests. And we've also answered the question about relationship. 5. 4 WIIIFM (!): When I drew this picture, I'll stick with green. But it is now a very messy picture, isn't it? When I drew this picture, I said, what we need to understand is the what's in it. For me. I'm going to circle that multiple times just so you can see, stand out. And the, what's in it for me is the motivating factor. Let me go back to my slide here. What's in it for me is the motivating factor for the, all the behaviors, all the actions of all the people on this picture. So the people who perceive things as negative will be taking actions to diminish your chances and your impacts of success. And the people who believe they're going to get something from it are more likely to be taking actions to support your success. But that's not guaranteed. Let me just repeat that because that was really significantly important. The people who believe they will be worse off are actively fighting against you. The people who believe they may benefit from what you're doing. We'll be passively not getting in your way, but without a visible benefits for themselves and belief that you can help them achieve that benefit. They are unlikely to be taking action. So your success is based on everybody else's belief that through their mutually depend interdependent actions, they will get there. What's in it for me, they're from your perspective there, what's in it for them. So one of the things that is crucially important for us as we do these early stages of stakeholder engagement and analysis is to ask the question, What's your success criteria to each individual? They will start probably because of politics and trust and all those sorts of things to tell you. The corporate good answers. But they weren't actively pursue corporate good answers. Unless they're in a spotlight. What you need is sufficient trust from people. They will tell you their personal what's in it for me. And then your challenge there is to align their personal what's in it for me, with the initiatives, with the endeavors with the organization's current target, current desires. Because when people see that the leader is providing them with an opportunity to realize their own ambitions and targets and aspirations, then they will contribute. And actually we've mostly now covered the topic that I wanted to take you through. 6. 5 Summary: So let's summarize. I've been almost an exclusive, inexcusable, cynical up to now, and I keep calling it Stakeholder manipulation. And that is definitely not what I mean. At least not in the sense that really when we talk about manipulation, we're talking about being unethical. There's a challenge in the root of stakeholder analysis and engagement and management, which says that we all see the world differently. And what's in my interests may not be in your interest. And if I then start taking actions to make my interests come to the fore. Is it ethical of meats take action to stop your interests? Is it ethical view to take actions to stop my interests? And if your taking actions to stop my interest, is it ethical for me to respond? And we only have to look at global trade wars or children in the nursery fighting with each other. To realize that this is a question that is too complicated to have any sort of answer other than it's situational. And it depends on personalities and lots of other characteristics. And to say that whether it's with a big P or a small p, It's all about politics. And that politics is neither good nor bad. It's a fact. It can be made to be bad. And I would suggest that 99% of the time we need to stay out of that territory, but it's not realistic to say that, to ignore it. So the question that we've been answering through the last half an hour, almost all content is who, who influences who, whose assistance do we need? Who do we need to assist? And what are the circumstances under which mutual back scratching is promoted and is appropriate? So that was our topic.