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Focus on needs of Stakeholders, or on those of the Organization?


Leading Projects and Change involves a significant dose of Stakeholder Management. In this process,
the question may arise if one should focus on the needs and desires of the major Stakeholders, or
rather on the interests of the Organisation. Or are they per definition the same?
Mapping Stakeholders
Stakeholders can be defined as Anyone who affects or is affected by your organization (R.E
Freeman), or as A person with an interest or concern in something, especially a business (Oxford
Dictionary). In a Project context, Stakeholders are defined by Prince2 as People, groups or
organisations that have an interest in or might be affected by the outcome of a project.
Some Project Stakeholders can easily be
identified. A predefined, fine-grained list of
identifiers for all Stakeholders is hard to set up.
To complete the mapping of all Stakeholders, the
diagram below offers a relatively good view on
the different categories. It is based on three
attributes: perceived power, legitimacy and
urgency (Mitchell, Agle, & Wood, 1997).
Dedicated tools or literature are available to
build a good understanding of the different
(groups of) Stakeholders. In the end, this
enhanced understanding should be summarized in a clear overview, which can then be used along
the major documents supporting the project management guidance.
Stakeholders vs Organization, SWANS vs OWANS
In theory, the needs of the major Stakeholders should be aligned with the interests of the
Organisation. In practice, however, Project ecosystems appears often to be a rather shaded reality.
The Stakeholder mapping should therefore be enlarged with a differentiated understanding of the
Stakeholders Wants and Needs (SWANS), and the Organizations Wants and Needs from
Stakeholders (OWANS). A high-level example is shown below.

Stakeholders
Customers
Employees
Suppliers
Regulators
Investors

SWANS = Stakeholder
Satisfaction
Fast, Right, Cheap & Easy
Purpose, Care, Skills & Pay
Trust, Loyalty, Profit & Growth
Legal, Fair, Safe &True
Return, Reward, Figures & Faith

Source: Neely, A. , Cranfield University, School of Management, UK.

JRGEN JANSSENS

OWANS = Stakeholder
Contribution
Trust, Loyalty, Profit & Growth
Hands, Hearts, Minds &Voices
Fast, Right, Cheap & Easy
Rules, Reason, Clarity & Advice
Capital, Credit, Risk & Support

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To have a compatible balance between both, it is advised to have a good grip on the corner stones:

SWANs: What do the different Stakeholders want and need?


Strategies: What strategy is the Project following to support this?
Processes: What processes does the Project have (to put in place) to achieve the strategies?
Capabilities: What capabilities are required to manage these processes?
OWANs: What does the Organization expect from its Stakeholders?

Organisational alignment with Internal Stakeholders


One should not expect that Organisations and Stakeholders are focused on identical outcomes. The
complementary viewpoints need to be understood, and shared interests have to be present.
Failing to align the interests of Stakeholders and Organisation may result in an Organisational lack of
understanding of the impact/importance of the Project, a lack of support in budget/resource
allocation, or a lack of support in the Project Portfolio prioritization.
To secure Project interests and -support in situations with a skewed Stakeholder/Organisation
balance, Project Managers and Change Managers should tackle the matters below. This will allow
them to better understand the Stakeholder landscape, and define appropriate mitigation actions:
How well are needs and wishes from Project,
Stakeholders and Organisation aligned?
Are Organizational priorities and Stakeholder
priorities clearly identified and followed?
Is it identified within the Project ecosystem how the
project will benefit/impact the Stakeholders, and
how the Stakeholders can bring value to the
Organization (with or without the project)?
Is Stakeholder and Portfolio follow-up seen as an
important project KPI?
What are the in-project and out-of-project forums
where Organizational priorities and Stakeholder
objectives/KPIs/deliverables are periodically shared,
and eventually reviewed?
Is the Organization as such aware that the
effectiveness of stakeholder relations implies
communication, as well as larger dynamic, such as
budget, resource and portfolio reviews?

How well is the Organisational Culture


stimulated by the CEO / Senior Staff in
qualitative Stakeholder management?
What % of his/her time does the
CEO/Senior Staff dedicate to
stakeholder management?
Does the CEO / Senior Staff champion
staff within the organization who drive
meaningful stakeholder management?
Does the CEO / Senior Staff use inputs
from stakeholders to help shape
direction and future developments,
both internally and externally?
How does the CEO / Senior Staff use
stakeholder inputs? Only for external
reputation, for internal change, or
both?

Overall, Projects should thus dedicate sufficient time upfront to build a good understanding of the
Stakeholders and their surrounding Organisational ecosystems. This will not prevent issues or gaps
from appearing in the larger Project-Stakeholders-Organisation picture. But it will increase
opportunities and reduce risks related to differing Stakeholders and Organisational expectations.

JRGEN JANSSENS

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References & Further Reading:
Freeman, R. E., (1984). Strategic Management: A Stakeholder Approach, p. 46, Boston, MA: Pitman.
Jeffery, N., (2009). Stakeholder Engagement: A Road Map to Meaningful Engagement. Cranfield, UK:
Cranfield University., Retrieved May 5 2016 from: http://www.som.cranfield.ac.uk/som/
Mitchell, R.K., Agle, B.R., Wood, D.J. (1997), Toward a theory of stakeholder identification and salience:
defining the principle of who and what really counts, Academy of Management Review, Vol. 22 No. 4, pp.
853-86
Neely, A., & Adams, C. (2002). Managing with measures: The stakeholder perspective, Control, 28 (7) 2931.
Neely, A., & Adams, C. (2003). The new spectrum: How the performance prism framework helps. Business
Performance Management, (Nov) 39-47.
Neely, A., & Adams, C. (2003). The Performance Prism in Action: A Case Study, Control, 29 (1) 14-17.
OxfordDictionaries. Stakeholders. Retrieved May 5 2016 from:
http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/stakeholder?q=stakeholder
Prince 2. How to identify stakeholders. Retrieved May 5 2016 from: https://www.prince2.com/blog/howto-identify-stakeholders/

Information about the Author: https://be.linkedin.com/in/janssensjurgen |


Information about TETRADE Consulting : http://www.tetrade.be/

JRGEN JANSSENS