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On the Subject of Omar Muhammad and Abid Mustafa’s article on Managing Stakeholders: Going beyond conventional wisdom.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR 

16 December 2013 

Dear Editor,

The authors of this paper seem to lack access to any effective literature review mechanism.  The problems described are certainly real and occur regularly in organisations with an immature stakeholder engagement culture, but the solutions and many of the highlights in the article have been in the published literature for several years.

Probably the most succinct summary of the problems outlined in the article together with practical solutions can be found in Stakeholder Relationship Management: A Maturity Model for Organisational Implementation (2nd Edition), published by Gower Publishing Ltd, Aldershot (http://www.gowerpub.com/isbn/9780566088643).

One of the key lessons from this book and the many papers published by its author, Dr. Bourne, is that effective stakeholder engagement is never likely to succeed if it is implemented ad hoc at the individual project level.  Effective stakeholder relationship management requires the right organisational culture and the right support systems within the business.

Achieving maturity in stakeholder management takes time and commitment; the five stages of stakeholder relationship management maturity are defined in the SRMM model which is available as a free download from http://www.stakeholdermapping.com/srmm-maturity-model/

So in summary, whilst the problems described in the article are real, the solutions have been available for the better part of a decade; what’s missing is the willingness of executive management in most organisations to commit the resources necessary to achieve a degree of control in the critical area of stakeholder engagement.  As the authors state, if you lose the support of your key stakeholders, your project will fail.

Patrick Weaver, PMP, FAICD,

Melbourne, Australia