Know Thy Stakeholders

When the new PMBOK(R) Guide comes out soon – the 5th Edition, that is – it will include a brand-new Knowledge Area.

For fans of Project Management (and who isn’t one?) there are currently 9 Knowledge Areas, Sleepy, Sneezy, Grumpy, no…wait.  Wrong list.  Let me check.  How about this one: Dancer, Blitzen, Rudolf… nope.  Still not quite right.

Ah.  We remember now.  The nine Knowledge Areas (in the 4th Edition) are (in no particular order): Integration, Scope, Time, Cost, Quality, HR, Communications, Risk, and Procurement.

And, introducing, for the first time ever, in the 5th Edition: Stakeholder Management.

So PMI (rightly) has decided to focus uniquely on Stakeholder Management rather than distribute it in the other knowledge areas, mainly Communications and Integration.

What does this have to do with sustainability?

Turns out: alot.

As a PM we need to know our stakeholders.  As we’ve asserted in over 300 posts here and of course in our book, as well as recent talks in Malaysia and South Florida (note: both have palm trees), projects produce outcomes.  Those outcomes outlive the project.  Sometimes by centuries.  Imagine, for example, a single-serve coffeemaker that produces a great cup of coffee, but in the steady-state also produces non-recyclable cups.  Say… about 12 billion of them.  That, dear PM friends, is an outcome that outlasts our project.

Should we care about it?

Well, that may depend on your own personal views.

But be careful.

It’s not only about YOU.

It’s about the coffee drinkers, the customers, the STAKEHOLDERS who may just care.   And in this article we picked up from the Associated Press, the statistics show that these stakeholders care deeply, and increasingly about ecological issues.

For example:

4 out of 5 Americans (yep, Americans) said that climate change will be a serious problem for the US if nothing is done about it.  This is an increase from 73% from just 3 years ago.

57% say that the US government should do “a great deal” about the problem.

One of the biggest changes is this:

Of those who trust scientists “only a little” or “not at all” (in other words, skeptics), 61% admit that temperatures have been rising during the past 100 years.  That is a jump from 47% just three years ago.

So these stakeholders, for example, your sponsors, team members, bosses, engineers, marketeers, internal customers, and end customers, are increasingly aware and concerned about ecological sustainability.

Take a lesson from PMI, and whatever your feelings about sustainability, know thy stakeholders.  It’s not even a lesson.  It’s a whole dang Knowledge Area!