On the Subject of the March Letter to the Editor from Lynda Bourne on Stakeholder Management


12 March 2014

Dear Editor,

A couple of observations on Dr. Bourne’s letter in March in response to my comments in the February newsletter:

  • Dr. Bourne states “Whilst decision makers are undoubtedly important stakeholders (generally referred to as ‘key stakeholders’) Mr. Davidson’s (sic) proposition that they are the only stakeholders that matter, and they will automatically support ‘their project’ ignores reality”. What I actually said was “focus on decision-makers first and foremost”. If the decision-makers are not engaged and in agreement on key decisions throughout the change lifecycle, success will be elusive regardless of how well the other stakeholders are doing. Of course all the folks who actually have to acquire new skills and change behaviours have to be engaged and supported. Her call center example illustrates that requirement beautifully.
  • Dr. Bourne urges readers “to recognise that the old fashioned ‘command and control’ style of management passed its ‘use-by-date’ sometime in the last century”, the implication being that’s what I espouse. I do not support or endorse a ‘command and control’ style at all. Major changes typically need to blast through organizational silos to be successful. As well, more often than not, change involves external players – partners, vendors, customer, etc. I agree with Dr. Bourne that a ‘command and control ‘structure is usually a bad fit. Collaboration is the key. In fact, I recommend a ‘round table’ structure.
  • Dr. Bourne also seems to suggest that if a practice doesn’t improve an organization’s overall maturity level, then it’s of limited worth. Implementing a business or technology change successfully is always of value. Building maturity in a discipline is also of value. I focus on change, one at a time. I expect Dr. Bourne places greater emphasis on a particular kind of business change, building change management maturity. The two are complimentary.

I think Dr. Bourne and I are much closer in our views than either of our letters might indicate. Perhaps readers can benefit most by taking the best of both points of view and applying judiciously to each circumstance.

Good luck.

Drew Davison

Davison Consulting

Kirkfield, Ontario, Canada

[email protected]