Stakeholder Assumption Workshop

Skill theme: 
Stakeholder Engagement
Stakeholder Engagement

As you conduct Stakeholder Interview and build out Actionable Research Question, you will identify tension in interpretations about the project and its goals, or the nuance of a research question. Unresolved, these tensions only amplify over the course of a project, hampering its success. Address them early and collectively.

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The challenge

Different backgrounds and perspectives necessitate different goals and points of view on fundamental aims for the project. You need to create a shared basis for going forward, helping each party understand the bread of perspectives and hypotheses on the table, and with reasonable clarity on what you’re trying to accomplish.

A lack of alignment and understanding now—and especially a lack of understanding about what we all understand differently—is the sand in the gears that will slowly break a project down. Additionally stakeholders have knowledge of their own functional needs and logistics for involvement that are important inputs to shape a project for success.

The approach

Consider who has a stake in the project, and who will actively contribute or depend on its outcomes. These are key team members who must be involved in the process somehow, and whose input now may save a project from future-floundering.

Therefore, run a workshop with the larger team that will achieve clarity and alignment around goals for the project, expectations, and potential dependencies and concerns. Set a clear frame for the workshop: list the types of discussions you intend to have up front, so stakeholders can come prepared. Begin the workshop by reviewing the existing plan for the project and any immovable constraints or driving forces. Create open conversations with stakeholder about their personal motivation for being a part of the project, how they imagine they will use the results of the project (what success looks like), their fears of failure or expected issues (e.g., pre-mortem, "what if it were to fail, and we look back and asked, why?"), and how they want to be involved throughout the course of the project.

As assumptions, untested hypotheses, or potential new constraints are raised, record them publicly. Review this list and prioritize those concerns as part of the workshop. Where you cannot resolve them on the spot, set clear expectations for what must happen next, who will be involved, and when it will happen.

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Use the resulting clarity and alignment to refine Actionable Research Question and begin to build Study Plan. An assumptions workshop will also build the alignment necessary to kick off Research-Driven Design Project or Design Sprint. Later in the process, include any stakeholders here in resulting Sensemaking Workshop.

Last updated:
Apr 26, 2020 19:21


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