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The stakeholder workshop is a really great way to make key strategic decisions that will kick your project off on the right footing.

Before beginning, I’d like to clear up what I mean by stakeholder because there can be quite a variation in people’s understanding. To borrow words from Bob Marshall:

‘A stakeholder is any person that stands to (possibly) gain or lose something from a specific proposed or actual endeavour.’

So by this definition, our stakeholder workshop can also be said to be a gathering of people who have something to gain, or potentially lose, from the forthcoming project. This can be quite a broad spectrum of people depending on the context of the project. For example, this could be a project lead, representatives from marketing and sales, the CEO, and ideally end users. On the other hand, for some startups, this can be a much smaller collection of people.

The purpose of the stakeholder workshop is twofold. Firstly, it’s important to leverage everyone’s different expertise so as to help us make informed strategic decisions. Secondly, given it might be the only time that everyone is going to be in the same room, it’s an incredibly powerful way to create a shared understanding of the goals and vision for the project.

The nature of your project and the type of your organisation will to an extent shape the type of activities we run. But there are broad themes that we always work through in order to achieve the following outcomes:

  • A definition of the problem the project is solving
  • Initial ideas of how to solve the problem
  • A definition of who we’re solving the problem for
  • A quantifiable definition of success (for instance KPI’s)
  • An assessment of factors that could increase our chances of success
  • An assessment of factors that could cause the project to fail or impede the project significantly

The output of the workshop includes the following deliverables:

  • Documented value proposition and project goals
  • Defined target audience (user personas)
  • A set of quantifiable success metrics
  • An action plan for mitigating risks

By bringing everyone together we can leverage the expertise that you have in your team whilst building a shared vision for the forthcoming project. For me, it’s the most powerful and enjoyable way to kick off the project that I know of.

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