Dear Neg­a­tive Stakeholder,

How are you?  It’s been way too long since we last chat­ted!  I know that you are prob­a­bly not happy that I am call­ing you “neg­a­tive.”  “What’s up with that?,” you are thinking.

I am a very pos­i­tive per­son, you might even think.  “I used to be a cheer­leader!” you may say.  “Or, I love the Dal­las Cow­boy cheer­lead­ers!” you may also counter.

If you are my husband.

So what’s up with that, Kiran? you are think­ing right now.  You don’t even know me and you are send­ing me this let­ter, all up in my face and throw­ing around words like “negative.”

Well here is the thing.  “Neg­a­tive” stake­hold­ers are not always bad.  As a mat­ter of fact, they can be quite, quite impor­tant for the suc­cess of any project.  As long as you can iden­tify them and under­stand the con­cerns that may be moti­vat­ing their um.  hmmm.  Lack of support.

And neg­a­tive stake­hold­ers can be good peo­ple.  Qual­ity indi­vid­u­als.  For exam­ple, there were plans to open up a hos­pi­tal near my house.  I was ok with this, as I am kind of acci­dent prone and thought this could work out in my favor.

But some peo­ple were NOT ok with it.  They did not want this hos­pi­tal any­where near our lit­tle town, thank you very much.  They pick­eted, sent let­ters of protest and went to town meet­ings to raise their concerns.

They were nice peo­ple.  Pos­i­tive peo­ple, actu­ally.  But they were “neg­a­tive stake­hold­ers” in this par­tic­u­lar situation.

So now, I just have to try to be a lit­tle less acci­dent prone because its twenty min­utes to the clos­est hospital.

Here are some other exam­ples of other neg­a­tive stake­hold­ers you keep com­pany with.

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Exam­ple 1:

Project:

Beef Indus­try — Eat More Meat Cam­paign.  Mar­ket­ing rehaul designed to edu­cate peo­ple on how red meat is just mis­un­der­stood.  So eat more meat.  Moo.

Neg­a­tive Stakeholder:

PETA

Exam­ple 2:

Project:

MTV launches new sea­son of Tila Tequila. Goal is to increase view­er­ship to the chan­nel by 10%.  An expen­sive adver­tis­ing project has been put into place to drive viewership.

Neg­a­tive Stakeholder:

Any­one with taste

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So the point is that great peo­ple, WONDERFUL peo­ple, can be neg­a­tive stake­hold­ers.  So don’t be offended.

When I start a project or kick­off an imple­men­ta­tion, it is really impor­tant to me that I know who you are. There may be twenty smil­ing faces in the kick­off meet­ing, but I can usu­ally fig­ure out who you are within the first hour or so.  Some­thing about your smile.  And per­haps the type of ques­tions you ask.

Like when you ask me how long before I leave.

There are rea­sons you may ques­tion the project.  Per­haps it is con­cern that a new ana­lyt­ics solu­tion can­not be trusted, because you just got com­fort­able learn­ing the last one, and why do I have to go and rain on your parade now?

You may feel that there is a pos­si­bil­ity that some of the auto­mated report­ing will some­how replace some of your co-workers.  I know that some­times this is a con­cern, but let me tell you, ana­lyt­ics does not replace peo­ple.  It empow­ers them.

You may be annoyed because this new project is going to cause you a lot more work.  You are already stretched thin with some recent lay­offs that occurred and replace­ment head­count has not been added.

I don’t know what your story is just yet, but I am going to find out.  You may have a lot of great points to con­sider for the suc­cess of this project.  It could be that I can actu­ally turn this around and make you a “pos­i­tive” stakeholder.

Or it could be that you will con­tinue to be a thorn in my side be a real joy to work with as you find ways to under­mine every­thing I do to push this project for­ward bring for­ward a new and fresh perspective.

Ulti­mately, I want this project to suc­ceed.  I want your com­pany to suc­ceed.  I want YOU to succeed.

Even though you may not have the same agenda for me.

Thanks for keep­ing me on my toes.  It helps my calves look nicer in heels.

Sin­cerely,

Kiran

6 comments
Reuben
Reuben

Bravo! :) As always love reading your blog posts.

Jason
Jason

Fantastic post. I find it really dangerous when companies identify people that offer their feedback as "negative", just because they don't agree with you on everything, doesn't mean that they aren't truly interested in the success of the products you are offering.

Ian
Ian

Having a negative stakeholder in the room can be very handy. It certainly helps deal with those "why didn't anyone think of this" outbursts up front!

Sabina Park
Sabina Park

Kiran, What a wonderful blog. I'm extremely interested in your company! I definately agree that Bravo! should be used more often Molto Bene! Sabina

Caty
Caty

This is probably the most entertaining Omniture blog post I have ever read. Bravo!

Kiran Ferrandino
Kiran Ferrandino

Caty, Thanks so much for the bravo! You even added an exclamation point (!). That made me feel a lot better, after a dismal Monday. I think the world would be a better place if we said bravo more often. (Maybe I should add it to my signature? . . . ) Caty. Bravo! (See, didn’t that make you feel good?) Kiran