How much time have you wasted while searching for an answer in various documentation, internet blogs, or any other place?
I wasted plenty. In fact, I remember when I tried to do things on my own, when I spent late evenings trying to find answers and showing up worn out and tired for work the next day. Now, when I look back, I can clearly see that it was nothing more than just a huge waste of precious time that I’m never going to get back.
When I dig deeper, however, I start to realize that it all took place because I was actually afraid to ask others for help, probably out of fear to appear incompetent, clueless, even stupid. What I did not understand back then is that asking when uncertain is actually a responsible, adult behavior.
Only by asking more experienced colleagues do we utilize the true power of our team and progress faster and in the right direction. We do not waste our time wandering and meandering through dead-ends and sideroads of endless areas shrouded in nearly unattainable knowledge.
The real question is: “Whom should I ask and who should be involved and informed about what I am doing?“
This is where we assemble our own Avengers. A team of people to help us. In day to day work, we call them stakeholders and we try to map where each of them is located. We virtually put ourselves in the shoes of the well-known Nick Fury.
(For those not willing to read about pop-culture references, we can organize a separate coaching session.)
Boring Definition Time| Stakeholder Map
Project Management Institute, a leading body in the world of Project Management, defines stakeholders as:
“individuals and organizations who are actively involved in the project, or whose interests may be positively or negatively affected as a result of project execution or successful project completion”
And when we say – Stakeholder Map, we actually create a list of the people in some of our favorite tools.
Makes sense so far?
Let’s take a step farther and make it more real-life.
So, what does it really mean?
If you are still reading this, congratulations! However, I already feel that question lingering in the air: “So what? How can this help me?” Well, two questions, actually.
Truth be told, understanding the importance of whom to include into your project comes only once you’ve left someone important out, and then you need to redo your job. Believe me, I know. I’ve done it. This is precisely why I wouldn’t like you to waste your time as well.
Simply put, you need to know your project team. You need to know who will be performing the necessary work, who will be paying for it, but also who may be positively impacted by your work (a client who gets an amazing application automating a bunch of work) or who may be suffering from consequences of your work and will be opposing it (a person who loses their job as a result of that very automation).
Only when you confirm all this and when you include all of the stakeholders into your planning will you be certain that you have an alignment and that you may freely move forward.
Not involving a key person into the plan may retract your planning to the very beginning. I’ve been there too and it’s not fun. I wasted a substantial amount of time until I understood that concept.
But wait – you may object – how can I know whom to put on my list if I don’t know anyone because I am new in the company?
Ask the first person to your left or right (or in this unprecedented situation, anyone on the company chat client). Ask the person who told you to do the work. Ask the person who sent you the email. They might not know, but they may tell you whom to ask. Repeat the same process with the people you meet on your journey.
The true meaning of the concept and how it resolves your problem
From a technical perspective, this concept may be clear: get everyone involved, consult everyone, and move forward.
However, there is a deeper meaning behind getting people involved, besides only saving time.
- First, you need courage to admit that you don’t know something and force yourself to ask. Having courage is a key value of a leader and exercising it by asking questions develops you as a person and prepares you for future challenges.
- Once you accept the fact that you don’t know something, you start to learn. Learning is a life-long endeavor and a never-ending story. Nowadays, I go around admitting to people that I haven’t gotten a single clue about certain topics. I never pretend and because of this, people are always willing to share and teach.
- You work on your authenticity. You show others that you are honest and that the only thing that’s in your interest is success of the whole team, and not playing ego-driven games.
Who would have thought that just a simple list of people has such enormous impact in so many ways?
Hopefully, you will understand the significance of creating the Stakeholder Map and keeping it up to date throughout your (project) work.
It has surely helped me tremendously. Eventually, I stopped wasting my time by confirming who should be involved and asking my team members for their inputs.
Reality Check – How does Stakeholder Map look like?
To make all of this more tangible, I am sharing with you a simple example of how your Stakeholder Map could look like. Remember, it’s not about how fancy or colorful something looks, but rather about the importance of understanding the concepts behind.
Where can I find more of this?
Our Vision is to accelerate professional and personal development of young professionals and, by doing that, make a small part of the world a better place.
We talk about this as well as about other concepts and transfer them into real-life scenarios in The SPARK Method course.
Can’t get enough of Stakeholder Map? Here are more resources!
Take a look at our WEBCAST where I talked about this essential element.
In addition, you can hear what an experienced Program Manager has to say on this topic in our INTERVIEW.