The Skeptical Methodologist

Software, Rants and Management

Never forget the Stakeholder

We hear this drummed into our heads since birth by business gurus, yet it still seems to be ignored. I believe this is because it is sometimes hard to remember who the stakeholder is.

The stakeholder being the customer is the easiest case. In more subtle cases, the stakeholder is marketing, or management. In the most devious of cases, the stakeholder is you.

Case in point: source control and project management. Who makes the decisions on the use of these tools? Which ones to go with, how the policies are set up, and so on. Very rarely is it the actual user of the system! Prime example of ignoring stakeholders. Instead, the decision goes to some minority party with a very small stake, who is either wowed by some diagram or impressed with how lazy he can be in the use of the product. Thus, source control programs like Team Foundation Server are born: complex to merge, diff, branch, and other bread and butter tasks. But easy as hell to ‘manage’. You can lock down that sucker tight.

Why on earth do project managers get to choose modeling tools that are lucky if they generate working software? Why do corporate reps chose source control tools? Why does IT get to decide what browser you use?

Don’t let minority stakeholders make decisions at the expense of the majority. If you are a majority stakeholder, it is up to you to make sure your voice is heard – remind the minority that it is in fact you who will be using this tool and process the most. More importantly though, if you are a minority stakeholder, it is up to you to remember that random luck might occasionally give you the power to make decisions – you must make wise ones that identify the true majority stakeholders and not succumb to laziness or egoism on your part. Remember that speeding up the 99% majority by 5% has a higher return on investment than doubling your productivity as a 1% stake holder.

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May 24, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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