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Maximizing Stakeholder Collaboration for Product Success

November 5, 2023

🏆  "No great product is made in isolation."

Great Products are built by the Great Team in collaboration with the stakeholders.

Stakeholder Collaboration

Should you focus on pleasing stakeholders or maximizing value?

Effective stakeholder collaboration is a vital aspect of product management, ensuring the success and smooth execution of any product endeavour. Stakeholder collaboration should start with a mindset of delivering value to the customers and bringing impacts to the organization

While stakeholders’ collaboration can be quite challenging, we will explore the various facets of stakeholder collaboration, ranging from identifying stakeholders to engaging with them and managing their expectations in this article.

💡  What is a stakeholder?

Stakeholders are individuals, groups, or organizations that

  1. Have an interest in your product outcomes.
  2. Can influence the product related decisions
  3. Or may get impacted by a product’s outcomes, directly or indirectly.

Stakeholders can be internal (such as sponsors, executives, marketing, legal, sales, PMO and others) or external (such as customers, users, suppliers, regulatory bodies, and partners).

The number of stakeholders varies based on factors like organizational size or whether a product is in its early stages or already established.

Generally, there may be lots of people who may be concerned or connected to your product directly or indirectly. It's important to differentiate between stakeholders and the general audience, as stakeholders have a direct stake, influence, or interest in the product.

Also, all stakeholders are not equal. For example, the CEO of the company will have more influence and play a bigger role in product strategic decision-making than a customer support representative who may be involved more in the tactical day-to-day working of the product.

🚀 The Importance of Stakeholder Collaboration:

For Scrum teams, engaging the right stakeholders at the right time is key to building a product that delights customers and brings positive impacts to the organization.

Stakeholder collaboration helps establish shared understanding and alignment in three crucial areas:

  • 🌟 The Product Vision: The guiding star that defines why the product exists. It's not just a statement but a comprehensive vision encompassing the product's purpose, values, and desired future state.
  • 🌍 Outcomes: The positive changes the product will bring to customers. Stakeholders need to understand how the product will improve the lives of its users.
  • 💼 Business Impact: The potential business impacts the product is expected to generate for the organization. This goes beyond financials and includes areas like market positioning, growth, and competitive advantage.

👥  Accountability for Stakeholder Collaboration in Scrum:

In the context of Scrum, while the Product Product Owner aspire to lead the stakeholders, the whole Scrum team is responsible for stakeholder engagement. They collaborate to ensure clear communication, align stakeholder needs, understand their roles, and manage expectations.

🛤️  Steps for Stakeholder Collaboration:

🔍 Step 1: Identify Stakeholders:

  1. Gather your teams and explore:
    1. The people connected to your product.
    2. Who can help you?
    3. Who can influence product decisions?
  2. Consider organizational artifacts such as the Product Vision, Strategy, Business Canvas, and Value Proposition Canvas.
  3. Brainstorm about the people from C-level positions, marketing, IT, PMO, legal, procurement, sales, customer support, and other departments crucial for product success.
  4. Additionally, identify external stakeholders like authorities, government entities, partners, and third-party service providers.

📊 Step 2: Analyze the Stakeholders:

Not all stakeholders have equal influence or interest. Perform a stakeholder analysis using frameworks like the 2x2 framework of Influence and Interest. Categorize stakeholders based on their level of influence:

Analyze the Stakeholders using 2x2 framework
  • 🤝 High Influence, High Interest (Work Closely): These are your executive-level stakeholders who can support or veto critical decisions. They are often deeply invested in the product's success and should be involved in strategic discussions.
  • 💼 High Influence, Low Interest (Keep Satisfied): Stakeholders in this category come from governance, authority, regulatory compliance, and PMO. They require routine reporting and information. Keep them satisfied, and consult them strategically to gain their support but they don’t need to be heavily engaged..
  • 🕵️ Low Influence, High Interest (Show Consideration): Stakeholders from marketing, sales, customer services, or actual customers and users often fall into this category. They are highly interested in the product's outcomes as it directly affects them, but they may not hold significant decision-making power. Engage with them regularly, provide updates, and listen to their feedback to turn them into advocates.
  • 📢  Low Influence, Low Interest (Keep Informed/Monitor): These stakeholders, which could include suppliers, distributors, retailers, media, and bloggers, have limited influence over the product's direction and may not be highly interested in the product’s outcomes. Keep them informed by sharing the minimal required information, keep an eye on and be aware of their thoughts and movements.

🤗 Step 3: Engagement Approach

Engaging diverse stakeholders requires a variety of techniques, including regular communication, feedback sessions, workshops, surveys, sprint reviews, product backlog refinements, and involving stakeholders in decision-making processes. A stakeholder map is a useful tool for refining stakeholder engagement approaches.

Stakeholder Engagement Approach
  • 🎯 Focus on Key Stakeholders: Prioritize key stakeholders who have accountability for strategy, revenue, increasing market share, and brand value. Focusing on too many stakeholders may lead to suboptimal outcomes.
  • 🤝 Build Trust: Building trust takes time. Techniques like active listening, integrity, authenticity, empathizing, and involving stakeholders in decision-making can help establish trust.
  • ✉️ Communicate Effectively: Establish the right communication channels to share progress, challenges, and support needs. Be clear, and concise, and share relevant data to create shared understanding.
  • 📊 Establish Goals, Expectations, and Accountabilities: Ensure transparency about the Product Vision, Product Goal, and roadmap. Define and manage stakeholders' expectations and accountabilities through open and transparent communication.
  • 🤝 Stakeholder Community of Practice: Establish a community of Practice to involve key stakeholders in decision-making processes. This fosters collaboration, facilitates consensus-building, and ensures diverse perspectives are considered.
  • 🛠️ Collaborative Tools: Utilize collaboration tools and platforms that provide stakeholders with real-time access to product information, including roadmaps, product goals, and key artefacts. These tools enable stakeholders to stay informed, share feedback, and know progress, help foster transparency and collaboration.


🔚 Conclusion:

Stakeholder collaboration is vital for product success. By identifying stakeholders, analyzing their influence and interest, and employing effective engagement approaches, Scrum teams can build strong relationships, align goals, and maximize value for customers and organizations. Embracing stakeholder collaboration within the Scrum framework enables teams to create products that meet user needs, drive business impact, and foster a culture of collaboration and continuous improvement.

🤜🤛  Remember, the success of a great product lies in the collective efforts of a dedicated team and engaged stakeholders.

📢  To learn more about Stakeholder Collaboration, consider joining PSPO, PSPBM or PSPO-A class.

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