Rosemary King educates us on the importance of involving stakeholders (especially those in senior positions) in the research phases of your products.
Collaboration is important. As a product manager you enjoy being in control, but at times this control can be detrimental to a product. Rosemary cites a number of examples where collaboration with stakeholders is important: they may have specialist knowledge you don’t have; you need to keep them on the same page in terms of project goals; you need to ensure multiple points of view are taken into account, and much more.
Who are They?
In this case stakeholders are people who can delay, change or cancel your project. As product manager, it’s your job to get them in the room and to understand why research is important. If senior stakeholders don’t understand or haven’t been involved in the research, all you have is your opinion against that of the HIPPO (Highest Paid Person’s Opinion) and chances are that you will lose.
When do you Need Them?
Including stakeholders is important – especially early in the project, but ultimately you need to get some work done as well. They should be included in setting goals, to keep everyone on the same page; They should attend some user interviews to get first-hand experience of the issues facing real users; They can also attend standups and retrospectives to keep up to date with the project.
It’s the Group
You should be communicating with stakeholders as a group, rather than one on one. This way all viewpoints are heard, rather than being heard all through you, so feedback won’t lose perspective.
How do you get stakeholders involved? Rosemary’s advice includes ensuring that they understand what the meetings are for and that they understand what you expect their contribution to be; She suggests you create roadmaps for the research and mark down when you expect people to be involved, and that you sure that meetings are scheduled and don’t move; You should follow up with action points from the meetings; and if nothing else works to get the stakeholders in the room, get the HIPPO on board to help.