Funnily enough, despite being political, I didn’t immediately think of politics. No, selfishly, I thought of myself.
You see, managing stakeholders is a required superpower for anyone who is a trainer, technical writer, instructional designer, change manager, community engagement manager, social media manager, and a myriad of other occupations including politics.
For me, stakeholders appear in three flavours. They are either subject matter experts, authorised approvers or both.
Subject matter experts usually are excellent to work with once they see how their contribution is relevant.
If they are an authorised approver, then even better.
It’s the latter category, when the authorised approvers are removed from the content, that the situation becomes much as Annabel Crabb has described.
Then it becomes complicated. It’s like sending one document to twelve people at once and then attempting to incorporate their changes at once (that didn’t work out very well). Or having document approval withheld until a process change was carried out (that didn’t work out well either). It’s then that the soft skills of stakeholder management of facilitation, consultation and collaboration and making people’s contribution relevant especially come to the fore. The harder skills of persuasion and escalation may also be required but only as a last resort.
While there’s no guarantee of success using these soft skills, they do go a long way to solving the bunnies in a basket problem. Certainly there is less guarantee of success using the harder skills. Even in politics, minister. Even in politics.