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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Recalcitrant stakeholders

Recently I was asked what could be done about stakeholders who refused to participate in information gathering.  They don't attend scheduled meetings or are resistant to getting together for interviews, even by phone. And they have important information about the product. Or they might suddenly appear when the product is ready to go into production with all their objections.
I offered four possibilities, as follows:

1.   1.  Make sure you have a compelling problem that will help the person when solved.  Define the product stakeholders and when asking for an appointment or a meeting start with the problem. If the problem is compelling and affects the person, they will want to provide information for solution. If not, they will not want to spend their time
2.   2/  Make sure they are affected (or impacted) by the problem or solution. If they don’t want to talk to you it may be because the person who told you to “go talk to them” gave you an erroneous name.  3. The person really doesn’t have information for you and is trying to avoid having a political situation where their boss says they have information they don’t have
3.   3.  If they are resistant to a face to face, define the information you want and let them know what information you are looking for. Sometimes people are hesitant to talk to you because they don’t think they have answers and don’t want to appear stupid.  Or they are afraid they will be asked a question they would prefer not answering, such as about how things are going in the process.  Giving them the information you want in advance may put them at ease and give them a chance to prepare a bit. It also might be beneficial if they don’t have that information. They can then tell you they don’t have it and maybe reference someone who does.
4.    4. Go back to the problem owner and ask for the information. If the problem owner refers to the person who is being resistant, tactfully relate that you cannot get with that person.  At that point one of three things will happen: 1) the problem owner will get that person to talk to you or give you the information, 2) the problem owner will refer you to someone else with the information, 3) the problem owner will get you the information him or herself. In any case, you get the information.