by Mariu Moresco and Carlo Notari
Chapter #7 explores the Worlds of Stakeholders.
Traditionally, the approach to analysis and management of the stakeholders is limited to a mere identification together with some hints on the method of neutralizing potential “enemies” and emphasizing the positive influence of potential “friends”.
On the other hand, when complexity and uncertainty of scenarios increase, traditional approach becomes totally inadequate and the project is bound to fail due to a series of hurdles and difficulties unless a more comprehensive and systemic method is followed. Therefore the project manager must be capable of identifying stakeholders and engaging them through constant and transparent relationships.
Starting from these assumptions, which are the tools and the approaches that a project manager must apply in order to act as a “relationships management professional” throughout project life cycle?
First of all, he must be aware that both the evolution and the project outcome are strongly influenced by the iterations inside the social group involved, its culture and the individuals which compose it: each of these three entities, tightly and dynamically correlated, can be analyzed through the following approaches: ethnography, informal networks and type-watching.
The ethnographic approach is aimed at establishing an emphatic relationship with the subjects, in order to seize their vision of the world and therefore their “culture”. Cultural analysis of organizations reveals itself as a really effective tool in those situations where the system of principles and values which influences stakeholders’ behavior represents an obstacle or a resource to be strengthened. Therefore stakeholders’ maps inside the project should be revised adding “cultural parameters” (e.g. ethics, innovative attitude, etc.).
Every organization is characterized by formal structures which are focused on hierarchies, definition of roles and operational procedures. The fact that a parallel, spontaneous, informal networks are originated is not always taken into account: these are flexible, adaptive structures which self-organize internally in order to react to external changes, sometimes with rules which are in contrast with formal rules, but which are indeed the real engine of the organization. It has been calculated that on average the 80% of the activities carried out inside an organization follow informal procedures. Informal networks are not represented by means of organizational charts, but rather by means of nodes and arrows which represent the learning system of the organization: “who knows what”, “who knows who”, “who works with whom”. Thanks to this graphical representation, we can analyze the stakeholders’ worlds through different perspectives such as: the features of the relationships, the features of the network, the features of the individuals as actors of the network (“central hub”, opinion leaders”, pulse takers”) and also the features of the individuals as individuals.
Type-watching essentially deals with interdependence and with the way of approaching the “others” in order to get a mutually satisfactory relationship. It originates from Carl Gustav Jung, whose theory has been revamped during the Forties by Katharine Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers, who developed the so-called Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). Through type-watching, it is possible to capture both complexity and diversity using just four dimensions of human behavior. This leads to a constructive answer to the unavoidable classification of the behaviors, and leads to a virtuous development of self-consciousness.
Type-watching can be characterized as a psychological system which is free from judgment and aimed at explaining normal psychology rather than unusual one; it does not refer to “good” and “bad” types, but only behavioral preferences related to basic functions which each personality develops throughout the life (“Extrovert” versus “Introvert”, “Intuitor” versus “Sensor”, “Thinker” versus “Feeler” and “Judger” versus “Perceiver”).
In addition to the use of advances approaches for a deeper stakeholders analysis, the project manager should adopt innovative tools in presence of a project that continuously changes: the context changes, conditions change, people often change, and therefore the attitude/approach of some of the stakeholders. This consideration leads to the definition of a tool which is different from the classic ones used so far: the Emerging Project Charter. A “road-book” which collects information which can be used by whoever might inherit our project, like other colleagues which in the future could have to deal with similar projects. It does not mean to alter the concept of Project Charter described in the PMBOK®, but rather to define an evolution which goes along with it and leads it to an equally important role of reference and guide to be used along the full project life cycle.
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Table of Contents
Stakeholder and PMBoK
The Emerging Project Charter