The Power of Stakeholder Workshops
(vs. Interviews) to Accelerate and Optimize
by Tammy Sachs, CEO and Founder
Since my early advertising days, client engagements typically “kick off” with 20 or more stakeholder interviews. With a hefty price tag, agency or management consulting execs interview the client CMO, CEO, CFO, heads of business units, etc. to clarify business and marketing goals. The rationale: to ensure each perspective informs the go to market strategy. The reality of this exercise often varies greatly from its intended outcome:
- Each stakeholder has very different – often conflicting – definitions of success
- As such, their roadmaps vary as to what the product is, how it is positioned, who it’s for
This auspicious start creates the perfect storm. Taking this input, the agency begins an accelerated product or creative development process to meet a launch date which someone etched in stone. All of this is done with the best of intentions.
Another element of this process is to base the core “reason to believe” the product or brand will succeed based on “assumptions” gathered from the team. That path often looks like this:
People who create a product are so close to it. They speak the same language, have a shared understanding about the “killer” differentiator, who the audience is and why it will blow competition out of the water.
A client of ours recently called to say “Well they’ve created these three product enhancements and even did usability testing to ensure they’re intuitive. Now they want to figure out if the go to market strategy is to drive acquisition, retention or maybe a stand-alone product. Also, we and the agency have two different sets of personas……Can you help us?”
First, we got the agency, marketing, product, design, research, and UX folks in a room. We asked everyone to define success, review their personas, and evaluate the product prototype –which all of us thought had incredible potential. As we walked through the workshop, people came around to a surprisingly shared perspective about the value of the product and what research needed to address to answer. In a matter of hours, the room was on the same page. Bottom line, people naturally seek alignment. It is communication that is the challenge!
Fast forward – the agreed upon research was done. It affirmed the value of each product to different audiences and enabled the team to agree upon a set of personas to use for marketing and messaging.
The lesson here is if you want to build consensus and iron out points of departure, get in a room! Have all the key people vested in success align on the what, the why, and the who and then do research to ensure your assumptions are solid. If not, pivot toward success. Everyone wins (and contrary to what research is often accused of) you get to market faster and better.
The stakeholder workshop path looks like this:
Have you ever engaged in a stakeholder workshop? What did your team discover? Tell me your thoughts below!