Navigating the S’s: Engaging Stakeholders for Project Success


Stacy A. Goff, President, ProjectExperts

IPMA VP of Marketing & Events

asapm President

Colorado, USA


Project Stakeholder Management has now been added to the 5th Edition of PMBOK® Guide, and is in the new ISO PM Standard 21,500. But this is not a new topic; identification of and management to stakeholder expectations has been a best practice of competent and performing project managers for years.

The Challenge: Some know the challenge of driving the “Esses;” the series of curves on a racetrack. Just as this shows mastery for skilled drivers, skilled project managers appropriately navigate their S’s: Engaging Stakeholders early and often is a key differentiator for outstanding project managers. But just how do outstanding performers engage stakeholders? Are their actions intuitive? Can they be learned? How do we know if the actions we take are effective? And, whose job is it to achieve all this?

A Solution: Early stakeholder engagement is a critical success factor in all projects. There are excellent ways to achieve that engagement. This is a key insight, because without early engagement, stakeholders are not on board. Given that insight, the proper timing and processes for achieving later engagement can easily follow. Of course, the right roles must take responsibility for this initial stakeholder engagement, and the ongoing care of that engagement, all the way through Benefits Realization.

The Result: Just as navigating the “Esses” in racing differentiates winning drivers from others, the same applies in managing the S’s in the world of project managers. Engaged Stakeholders know the business results they seek, and evaluate all in-project actions needed to assure a winning project at the time of Benefit Realization.

The Challenge: Navigating the Esses

I recall, from my days of Sports Car racing, the importance of aggressively, yet smoothly, navigating “the Esses.” These were the sections of the racetrack with a series of somewhat gentle left and right turns–such that, if you looked at them from above, they looked like several repeated capital letter S’s, laid down in a row.


To read entire paper (click here)

Editor’s note:  Second Editions are previously published papers that have continued relevance in today’s project management world, or which were originally published in conference proceedings or in a language other than English. Original publication acknowledged; authors retain copyright.  This paper was originally presented at the 7th Annual UT Dallas Project Management Symposium in Richardson, Texas, USA in August 2013.  It is republished here with the permission of the author and UT Dallas.

About the Author

stacy-goffflag-usaStacy Goff

Stacy Goff, the PM Per4mance Coach, is Vice President of Marketing & Events for IPMA, the International Project Management Association, and President of asapm, the American Society for the Advancement of Project Management (IPMA-USA). In these roles, Goff presents keynotes and speaks at conferences around the World on topics related to the advancement of project and program management competence, and improved PM performance. During 2011 he presented to dozens of audiences on five continents.

When he is not serving not-for-profit organizations, Goff is owner and President of ProjectExperts, a Program and Project Management consulting, tools and learning company. A Project Management practitioner since 1970 and consultant since 1982, he helps improve enterprise, department, project team or individual pm competence, effectiveness and performance.

An insightful consultant and dynamic speaker, Mr. Goff offers workshops of interest to Executives, Managers, Program and Project Managers, and individual contributors. His Project Management tools and methods are used by government agencies, Enterprises, consultancies and individuals on six continents. By the year 2000, he had exposed over 45,000 people to the World of Project Management. And, he does not just teach project management, he lives it. Email: [email protected]