What Makes A Good Stakeholder?

Stakeholders[1] are the reason we develop Product[2] in the first place. Stakeholders are those people that have needs, wants, and desires. (In an IT setting, these may be referred to as desirements, a processing task or type of output that is desired, but not absolutely necessary.) As a Scrum Team, we are trying to identify work that satisfies our Stakeholders. Stakeholders often (or maybe never) seem to really know what they want and even when they see something they want, they often change their minds. Figuring out what will truly satisfy a Stakeholders desire(s) takes a persistent effort of trial and error.

Stakeholders are vital to the Team’s success, as they review the Team’s Product and provide ongoing feedback. There are many people that are interested in the Product, but not all of them are Stakeholders – some are merely Interested Bystanders[3]. Clearly identifying the Stakeholders who hold the desirements is equivalent to identifying the market segment you are targeting.

So, what makes a good Stakeholder in Scrum? Those people who fit the above criteria and who can provide feedback that help the product evolve. Our big challenge is dealing with all of the other Stakeholders who don’t help or just become part of the noise. Good Teams need strong leadership, that can facilitate discussion and have a nose for good Catch Feedback[4] and Pull Feedback[5].

The classic definition of Stakeholders is that they are people with legitimate interests in the project. Stakeholders are people who should not be ignored; they are people who can have a negative impact on the Team if they are not attended to. Scrum Team Members are also stakeholders (with a lower case s) by the definition above but, the ones that we frequently struggle with are external to the Team.

Know who your Stakeholder is (and who it isn’t) and hone in what he or she really wants.

And, if you’d like help with building that Stakeholder relationship,
we’ve got coaching for that.

As Always. Stay Agile.

Notes and Sources

1-5 “Stakeholder.” “Product,” “Interested Bystander,” “Catch Feedback,” “Pull Feedback.” Accessed March 22, 2018. https://scrumdictionary.com.