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A Cautionary Tale of a Rookie mistake in Stakeholder Management

Updated: Jul 29, 2023

The more experience I have as a project leader the more I understand the importance of stakeholder management. Understanding and successfully navigating the power dynamics and politics of the various stakeholders in a project is an essential skill in these days of complex international projects.

These days it is something I focus on throughout the project lifecycle (as stakeholders can come and go from projects as well as rise and wane in power and importance) but let me tell you the story of a real-life example from my first project as a project manager (leader).

My first assignment as a Project Leader (Manager) was for a pharmaceutical project in the North of England some years ago. As a part of that project we had to convert a disused building into a packaging facility, laboratory and on the top 2 floors offices for the plant management team. The lead architect who was part of our team decided to design an atrium on the front of the building. The plant manager was very upset and told the client's project manager from their capital projects group in no uncertain terms that it was not appropriate and a waste of money to put an atrium on a building in a pharmaceutical production facility. Even though it was not constructed only designed on paper, this embarrassed both the client's PM and his boss the Project Sponsor from the capital projects group. I was removed from the project and reassigned to my next role. I had failed to understand the power dynamics and importance of the Plant Manager as a key stakeholder and paid the price for it.

It is important to have a conscious and active stakeholder mapping (or register) and management plan:

Stakeholder Management Processes & Methods
Stakeholder Management Processes & Methods

I will write more in future blog posts about the process of identifying and managing stakeholders and their needs and expectations.

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