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Stakeholder Engagement Essentials You Always Wanted To Know by Michelle Bartonico (Vibrant Publishers, 2023) is a book about working with others on projects.
It’s goal is to help you “learn strategies and techniques to balance the tenets of project management with the realities of human dynamics” – something I’m very keen to make sure happens in our practice as project professionals.
There are two things I think worth pointing out about this book:
The book leans heavily on PMI ways of working
First, although it is very much grounded in reality and practical skills, it also heavily leans on A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide). For example, there is a section early on that outlines the differences between the 6th and 7th editions of the Guide, which really isn’t relevant for anyone who is not familiar with PMI approaches or inclined to study for the
I feel the focus on what the PMBOK® Guide says makes the book better for people who work in organizations that draw their methods from the PMI ways of working.
(For the avoidance of doubt, I like the PMBOK® Guide, it’s a good read.)
If you work in an organization that uses a different methodology, you obviously can still learn from the book and apply the core skills, but it grates a little to read something that is so grounded in one particular way of working.
The author does make the point that the PMBOK® Guide is not the only body of knowledge or approach out there, but it comes up a lot.
So, the first think I’d conclude about this book is that it is best for people who are aware of and likely to be working in an environment where PMI is a common way of approaching work.
And that brings me to the second point.
It’s aimed at beginners
If you have some experience working in projects, then I would hazard a guess that this book is not for you. The publisher says it provides “foundational essentials” and that it is “part of the Self-Learning Management Series designed to help students, managers, career switchers, and entrepreneurs learn essential management lessons.”
We need books like this, that provide accessible, realistic entry points for people starting out in their careers. Stakeholder Engagement Essentials is clear, precise, and basically a playbook for doing the project management aspects of working with others.
Stakeholder Engagement Essentials covers:
- Stakeholder identification
- Mapping and analysis
- Creating a stakeholder engagement plan and looping project communications into that
- Working through challenging situations.
These are all core points, but I would suggest that if you have 5+ years of leading projects, then you can probably put together a power/influence grid and a stakeholder register without thinking about it too much.
If you are new to project management, new to leading project teams – even if you have a lot of other, related business experience in a different field – then this will be relevant to you. Stakeholder engagement on projects is specific and different to the way that you worked with other teams in an operational or line management role, so it is worth reviewing ‘the basics’ so you have a solid understanding of how to make them work.
Practical activities and fun cartoons
The book also includes activities at the end of each chapter, which are designed to help you put the learning into practice. You can think of the book as a workbook – something you can keep on the desk and come back to as and when you encounter new situations on your projects.
I thought the book was OK for the audience it is aimed at, and it’s great to see more authors focusing on this most important aspect of doing the work of project delivery.