Experts typically have a complex role – involving liaising with and attending to the needs of a wide variety of stakeholders. Due to the nature of their specialisms, they rarely have their own staff or people they can depend upon to address their requirements. They almost always have a significant number of stakeholders to attend to – requesting services (sometimes on behalf of other stakeholders), people to influence and collaborate with. When we ask participants to map all their stakeholders, it is common that they have a key stake in the success of as many as 80 or more relationships within the organisation (several hundred stakeholders are not uncommon).
Whose needs amongst them should take precedence over others? Will lower priority stakeholders cheerfully accept that their requirements are further down the queue? How much access to important stakeholders does an expert typically get? How clearly and explicitly defined are each stakeholder’s felt needs.
Since most experts lack the formal authority to oblige others to act, they need to master the art of influencing stakeholders. But, for want of any development in this complex – and often “grey” – area, experts routinely discover that they have failed to adequately engage one or more pivotal stakeholders – and this adversely impacts the (perceived) quality of their deliverables and/or the necessary support and funding for their proposals and initiatives.
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