In order to identify the right stakeholders of the project, the environment analysis is carried out as a precursor. The social environment factors are included in the stakeholder analysis and it is recommended to consider them according to the following dimensions: Power and conflict potential. The objective of the stakeholder analysis is to group the stakeholders in the individual quadrants of a 4-quadrant portfolio in order to represent a corresponding number of stakeholder strategies. If I consolidate the stakeholders in a stakeholder portfolio quadrant, I have the chance to plan a consolidated measure using the common strategy of the quadrant. Various sources of error in the preparation of the stakeholder analysis are pointed out.
What is a stakeholder?
As already mentioned in my “Six Interdependencies“, the consideration of stakeholders is an essential component for project success. Stakeholders are individuals, groups of people, organizations or the entirety of all those who are involved in the project, directly or indirectly affected by it or have a justified interest in it.
Environmental analysis as a basis for stakeholder analysis
In order to identify the right stakeholders of the project, the environment analysis is carried out as a precursor. The project environment analysis is a systematic, forward-looking consideration, observation and analysis of the positive (supporting) and negative (disruptive) influences of the project environment on the project, to be introduced as early as the initiation phase. A distinction is made between the social and factual environmental factors. A further distinction can be made between project-internal, project-external or company-internal or company-external factors. A differentiation exclusively between internal and external factors is not specific enough. Opportunities and risks in the further course of the project planning can be determined from the objective environmental factors and interfaces of the project can be made conscious.
Stakeholder analysis and its determination
The social environment factors are included in the stakeholder analysis and it is recommended to consider them according to the following dimensions: Power and conflict potential. Other dimensions such as influence, interest can be qualitative but not necessarily clearly grouping dimensions. Interest and influence can be positive, negative, high or low. The advantage of power and conflict potential is that they can be high and low, but not positive or negative at the same time. Why do we only want to record high and low values of the two dimensions and not e.g. values with very high, very low etc.? Low conflict potential stands for (potential or actual) promoters and high conflict potential for (potential or actual) opponents. In practice, a constant consideration of the (potential) opponents and promoters is necessary anyway.
The objective of stakeholder analysis is to group the stakeholders in the individual quadrants of a 4-quandrant portfolio in order to subsequently reflect a corresponding number of stakeholder strategies in it. It therefore makes sense to group the stakeholders in a portfolio into high and low power, high and low conflict potential. A direct allocation of stakeholder strategies can then take place directly.
Stakeholder strategies and their allocation in the portfolio
The following strategies can be included in a stakeholder portfolio:
- Participative strategy based on participation and active involvement, communication and information of the project environment actors, e.g. joint decision making workshops,
- discursive strategy, which (mostly reactive) is geared to the objective analysis of the project environment, e.g. by means of conflict resolution instruments,
- repressive strategies characterised by the use of organisational, informational or factual power, e.g. management requirements or selective information.
For the fourth quadrant, it is recommended to provide for purely informational measures, which, however, do not represent a real strategy and are therefore not referred to as such.
A meaningful stakeholder portfolio thus looks as follows:
Stakeholder strategies – why is that?
Why do I want to look at strategies and not just measures for each stakeholder? Measures per stakeholder are time-consuming and costly. If I now plan individual measures for each stakeholder, I have a complex bundle of measures. If, on the other hand, I consolidate the stakeholders in a stakeholder portfolio quadrant, I have the opportunity to plan a consolidated measure using the joint strategy of the quadrant.
Typical sources of error in stakeholder analysis
If stakeholder strategies are mapped on the basis of dimensions other than power and conflict potential, there is a danger that the stakeholders will not be clearly classified. If, for example, the stakeholder’s interest is highlighted instead of the power dimension, secretly positive, negative, high and low groupings are possible and therefore multiple allocation to portfolio quadrants is likely. I have observed this in many misguided stakeholder analyses.
Another problem can be the failure to conduct a continuous stakeholder analysis. You should always look at stakeholders anew. Shifts in power in a company can change the dimension of power, but above all the characteristics of the dimension of conflict potential can change again and again. The stakeholder’s potential for conflict with the project can change as a result of changes in attitudes towards the project as a result of project developments.
A renunciation of the combined indication of names or roles already in the environment analysis and then also in the transfer into the stakeholder analysis can lead to a generalization and to an overlooking of important characteristics. Mr. Mayer-Schulze can be a pedantic, conflict-laden comrade-in-arms, but his role as a user does not necessarily suggest this.
Grouped environmental factors such as “steering committee” instead of the performance of all individual steering committee members may lead to lump sums and thus the overlooking of specific interests and influences.