Tag Archives: Stakeholder engagement

Review Engaging stakeholders on projects

The book Engaging stakeholders on projects – How to harness people power, written by Elizabeth Harrin is the starting point if you want to get a better understanding of stakeholder engagement and it gives you a lot of practical advice, tips for improving practice key takeaways and action steps for successful stakeholder engagement.

The book starts with an introduction of the topic by explaining that you can’t manage your stakeholders, you can’t manage stakeholder’s behaviour and actions, but you can engage them. Stakeholder engagement is the systematic identification, analysis, planning and implementation of actions designed to influence stakeholders.

In the stakeholder life cycle you see the following four steps: identification, early engagement, mature engagement and dissolution. 

The first chapter focusses on stakeholder identification. You can use a workshop to create a stakeholder list or start with stakeholder segments and you can ask already known stakeholders who must be involved too. Not all stakeholders are equal. Who are your primary, secondary, interested and hidden stakeholders? Next you must get clarity on stakeholder involvement. You can talk to them directly or ask colleagues about other stakeholders. You can use a stakeholder saliency model to understand who your definitive, dangerous, dominant and dependent stakeholders are, based on legitimacy, power and urgency measures for each of your stakeholders. You can also build an influence/interest grid to understand who of your stakeholders must be fully engaged, keep informed about progress, asked for input and identify their concerns and last a group who must informed from time to time. Be aware that stakeholder influence, interest and power are transitory and only as relevant as the day it was produced and that you must keep your analysis confidential.

The following chapter brings your stakeholder analysis to the next level. It gives you the instruments to understand how the social system works in your organization. A social system is the network of relationships and how they interact and influence each other as a whole. To understand the social system for your project you can review the team structure (functional, weak matrix, matrix or strong matrix and the project structure), use your network, talk to stakeholders or think strategically. Next you have to model your stakeholder engagement by plotting your stakeholders’ current and desired engagement level (resistant, indifferent, supportive and proactive). Besides the stakeholders influencing your project, you have to understand the organizational influences (or constraints) like policies, processes, procedures, standards, et cetera.

Now you know your stakeholders and how they interact and influence each other it’s time to engage them. 

Engagement = understanding + action + influence

You have to understand the stakeholder’s perspectives. How do they feel about the project and the effect it will have on them (emotional appeal) and how confident they feel that the work being done is the right work (rational appeal)? Next you have to build credible, trusted relationships otherwise you can’t influence them. There are two things that you should be engaging your project stakeholders throughout the project life cycle in: the project deliverables (purpose, why) and the project management process (what, roles, responsibilities). Engagement can be formal or informal by using on or more engagement techniques, e.g., expectation mapping, concerns mapping, personal contacts notebook, using others, celebrating success, active project marketing and actively seek input and using informal opportunities. A large element of engagement is communicating with the right people at the right time, in the right level of detail and with a specific goal in mind to help them take action. Communication can be conversations, facilitation, training or presentations. Special attention has been given how to make the best of your relationship with your project sponsor, and engagement in a crisis.

The following chapter looks at techniques for running efficient meetings and facilitation. How can you work with groups in a collaborative way to create energy and make it easy for the group to solve problems? To get the best results from a meeting with full preparation beforehand, strong leadership during the meeting and a professional follow up.

Projects and programmes change things. And not everyone embraces change. How can you identify resistance to engagement and engage resisters? Don’t be difficult to work with, you have to be realistic with your expectations, acknowledge you’ve notice, listen, ask for their help and thank them. If needed go via a gatekeeper, don’t make things worse and persuade with data and stories. And sometimes escalate to your project sponsor or ignore them (but use with care). Disengaged stakeholders present project risk so you have to identify and act on resistance.

What causes conflict on projects, how can you spot it and how can you resolve them? Conflicts can be found during project kick off, project planning, project delivery and/or project closure. The Thomas-Kilmann conflict mode instrument is a common model for considering approaches to dealing with conflict (avoiding, accommodating, competing, collaboration and compromising). A basic process for addressing conflict breaks down in the following steps: pick the location and environment, gather the facts, research and recognize stakeholder power and personal views, meet and agree on the issue, reflect and discuss and, if necessary, escalate.

The last part of the book is a deeper dive into interpersonal and technical skills and behaviours that are beneficial to stakeholder engagement. Besides the already extensively discussed communication and conflict resolution we get insights and tips in the following areas: negotiation, influencing, listening, business acumen, resilience, credibility, assertiveness, contextual, cultural and ethical awareness.


The book is easy to read and it’s a valuable aid to get a good understanding of stakeholder engagement in line with the APM Body of Knowledge 7th edition. The book gives you a lot of practical advice, tools, tips for improving practice, key takeaways and action steps for successful stakeholder engagement. I would say a must read for project, programme and portfolio managers.

To order Engaging stakeholders on projects: Amazon.com

Boekrecensie: Écht contact is het fundament van communicatie

IMG_0976Deze week had ik echt contact met Ankie Swakhoven. Ik had een aantal maanden terug een recensie over ‘De project(ver)leider op mijn blog gezet. Een boek waar Ankie coauteur van is.

Met veel trots kwam ze mij haar nieuwe boekje brengen wat ze samen met Peter Vader gemaakt heeft. ‘Écht contact is het fundament van communicatie’. Ze had wel haar twijfels, is het wel wat voor je blog?

Het is een inspirerend, mooi vormgegeven, boekje waarin je kan ontdekken hoe écht contact het verschil kan maken. Ankie heeft de mindset van Peter Vader op een heldere wijze verwoord en voorzien van voorbeelden en oefeningen.

In korte hoofdstukjes neemt Ankie je mee in de wereld van écht contact.

Écht contact …

  • begint bij jezelf
  • is plezierig
  • is blikverruimend
  • is een beleving
  • is delen
  • is je bewust zijn
  • is waarden balanceren

Tenslotte laat ze zien, aan de hand van voorbeelden, wat écht contact is voor klanten, voor medewerkers en voor organisaties.

Wat mij betreft verplichte stof voor de project- of programmamanager en de opdrachtgever. Steeds vaker, en terecht, wordt energie gestopt in het maken van stakeholderanalyses, engagementplannen opgesteld en interventies gepleegd. Klinkt mooi maar je kan je afvragen of dit ook zonder écht contact tot resultaat gaat leiden?

In lijn met het boekje heb ik écht contact voor projectmanagers als volgt kunnen neerzetten.

Écht contact voor projectmanagers

Door écht contact te maken met je opdrachtgever ontstaat een chemie waarbinnen jij als projectmanager succesvol kan zijn en daarmee de opdrachtgever.

Door écht contact weet de opdrachtgever waar jij wakker van ligt, zodat hij/zij hierop kan anticiperen.

Écht contact betekent dat jij transparant kan zijn over de status van je project zonder je opdrachtgever te moeten of willen ‘pleasen’.

Écht contact betekent afstand nemen van het ‘cover-your-ass’ gedrag maar samen problemen oplossen.

Bestellen: stuur een mail naar info@sease.nl of info@petervader.nl.

book review: De project(ver)leider / SPOMP


projectverleiderspompJust read the “De project(ver)leider. Hoe je tijdens je project draagvlak creëert en met stakeholders verandering succesvol implementeert” from Leon Hielkema and Ankie Swakhoven. It’s based on the American version “Strategic project management SPOMP. Five powerful strategies to seduce and influence stakeholders” from Leon Hielkema.

The most important success factors of project success are related to support from clients, internal users.

In this book you get five strategies that are very powerful in creating commitment for your project. If you combine these five strategies you have the possibility to ‘seduce’ your stakeholders into your change and to support you to be successful in achieving the project objectives.

S: Select your stakeholders
P: Plan to communicate
O: Organize influence
M: Market your change initiative
P: Prove potential success

The book is divided in eight chapters. The key parts of the book are the five chapters describing the five strategies and the other smaller chapters are focussing on the benefits of SPOMP and making a career. Every chapter contains several examples.

I summarized the five strategies in a handy one-pager.


Conclusion. Stakeholder management is explained in several methods like PMBoK, PRINCE2, MSP etc., but with this, easy to read book you can find a lot of pragmatic advice to bring stakeholder management into practice. It complements the method you are using! The book is definitely worthwhile buying.

You can find more information on:

Aanschaffen: De project(ver)leider

To buy: Strategic project management SPOMP

MSP Stakeholder management: The Stakeholder Register

Last week I published a refresh of MSP’ Stakeholder management. Based on feedback I updated the document. To download: MSP (Stakeholder management, 141128) v1.0. E.g. various people responded on the Communication Plan. They call it Engagement Plan, Commitment Plan or Intervention Plan. In MSP it’s called Communication Plan but the other names cover the purpose of the plan too, so choose the one that suits you best. Also I received feedback on the Stakeholder Map. Dia2I added the Stakeholder Influence/Interest matrix as shown in the MSP manual and the stakeholder position (strongly supportive, neutral and opponent) and who needs to become supportive for the programme to be successful, is shown too in this map.


To save time, and become not too bureaucratic, you can use the Stakeholder Register as a substitute for your Stakeholder Profiles. I attached a spreadsheet, which can fulfil this role.

Dia4To download:  Programme name (Stakeholder Register, 141128) v1.0

Success with the Stakeholder Register!

MSP: Stakeholder management, a refresh

I received questions regarding clarification of stakeholder management from various people. This is a good opportunity to refresh some MSP theory regarding stakeholder management.

Dia1In the middle of the picture you see the Stakeholder Engagement Strategy (0). This strategy, prepared by the Programme Manager during Defining the Programme, describes the framework that will enable effective stakeholder engagement and communication. In other words, the strategy, like all other strategies within PRINCE2 or MSP describes the HOW.

In this article I describe all the steps (Identify-Analyse-Plan-Engage-Measure) and I will give outlines of the relevant stakeholder engagement documents too:

  • Stakeholder Map
  • Stakeholder Profiles
  • Stakeholder Register
  • Stakeholder influence/interest matrix, power/interest matrix
  • Communications Plan

To download the article: MSP (Stakeholder management, 141121) v1.0

Success with the engagement of your stakeholders.