Sunday, May 6, 2012

Whatever you do, don't manage stakeholders...

This post was initially going to be entitled "Dimensions in stakeholder management". But I realised I had a more serious bee in my bonnet to deal with first and then, and only then, might we be able to move on.

One thing I'm pretty certain about is the practice of stakeholder management, while probably sound, legitimate, crucial even, is about as shoddily titled an activity as any I've come across.

Management, not the practice of training horses as the sixteenth century Italian derivation of the word might lead you to believe, but planning, directing and controlling. And therein lies the problem. You're going to plan, direct and control your stakeholders are you? Well if I'm on the project team, could I be excused? And if I'm one of the stakeholders, beware!

You cannot plan, direct and control stakeholders. In point of fact the practices of 'stakeholder management' don't actually tend to encompass these activities in quite such a provocative fashion, so really, it's something of a misnomer.

The sales and marketing teams have been on to this one for years and you don't hear the phrase "Customer Management" do you? Off course not, because it's about money and these things matter. So we don't manage the customer (they're always right anyway) we manage the relationship. So right here right now, I call for the practice of stakeholder management to be abolished and be replaced with stakeholder relationship management. If successful, and if this is my only contribution to the canon of project management nomenclature, I will be more than happy.

I think this is a stand-alone post, so I'll leave it there. For dimensions in stakeholder relationship management, you'll have to wait.

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