Project Management Institute

Remove your blinders



As more organizations turn to project management, they need to expand their definition of stakeholders. Who are the “social” stakeholders and what are their expectations? And how can organizations deliver value to the greater community?

Typically, we think of clients, management, suppliers and the project team as our stakeholders. Sometimes we include users and financial or regulatory bodies as well, but we need to take an even wider view. In their book Strategy: Process, Content, Context—An International Perspective, 3rd Edition [Thomson Learning, 2004], Bob De Wit and Ron Meyer describe a circle of stakeholders that extends beyond this typical view. We need to take responsibility for the way we deal with all of these stakeholders:

  • img   Industry Partners: Share knowledge and build long-term relationships rather than focus on the short-term contract obligations. Promote empowerment over control.
  • img   Competitors: Be ethical and fair—beyond what is required by law—even in dealings with rivals.
  • img   Economic Actors, such as tax authorities, central banks, employers' federations, unions, stock exchanges: Apply sound governance principles and aim to create sustainable value for the organization.
  • img   Socio-Cultural Actors, such as community groups, media, opinion leaders, religious organizations: Exercise sound corporate citizenship through respect and regular and honest communication, which includes consulting and listening.
  • img   Political/Regulatory Actors, such as governments, lobbyists, non-governmental organizations, regulatory bodies, international institutions: Again, communicate and ensure conformity to laws, regulations and local culture.
  • img   Technological Actors, including patent offices, universities, research institutes, standardization bodies: Be fair in respect to intellectual property rights and promote innovation and creativity.

The Long View

In today's environment, project-based organizations need to deliver sustainable, long-term value by seeking opportunities for all their stakeholders. The focus cannot solely be on short-term financial value and maintaining status quo for the few.

To achieve sustainable value, project-based organizations should seek to promote an end-to-end process that unifies and synergizes the organizational actors around the intended results—from the analysis of stakeholders' needs to the realization of value.

Organizations have a social responsibility toward users and customers to ensure their needs are satisfied. A sound portfolio management approach can help companies achieve this objective by facilitating the process to stop projects that cannot achieve the expected benefits. The focus will be on delivering stakeholder benefits through many harmonized projects rather than purely on single project deliverables.

As a project actor, whether you are the CEO or a project team member, take a wider view of your stakeholders and their needs and expectations. Make sure that your projects deliver not only products, but also capabilities that create sustainable value for the organization and, by consequence, for the wider community. PM

Michel Thiry, FAPM, PMP, PMI Fellow, is managing partner of Valense Ltd., and has more than 30 years of experience in project-based organizations worldwide.

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