Don’t Let Your Stakeholders Frustrate You

Tech leaders are often frustrated when they don’t get the budget they need or key stakeholders don’t support their strategy and goals. They believe that IT’s stakeholders don’t seem to see the value of what they’re trying to achieve. That’s because many tech organizations still focus on delivering functionality and mistakenly believe that function and features equate to value. But technology is not the value proposition. Stakeholders derive value from the experience that technology enables, not the product or service itself. The lightsaber in Star Wars is not the value proposition, but it is the experience of wielding its power (with “the force”) that enables value.

The Force Is With You

You can’t push a value proposition to a stakeholder — you must take an outside-in customer-centric approach. There is no single stakeholder value proposition — each stakeholder’s perception of value is different. A stakeholder expects technology to address their “jobs to be done” (their goals and objectives) and to fix their pains and drive business gains. Your stakeholders will perceive value from your value proposition if your value proposition fits with what they expect. When you don’t meet those expectations, they perceive the technology experience badly — you don’t enable value.

The Human Component Of Value: Perception

Design teams that adapt human-centered design techniques to develop products and services align their solutions to personas and journeys to ensure that solutions meet stakeholders’ expectations. But humans are individuals, and personas don’t always meet individual expectations. This can become problematic where tech leaders must sway their most important and influential stakeholders — typically, those that impact the outcomes of technology strategy, decide funding, or impact the success or failure of change initiatives. As a leader, you want “the force” of those stakeholders to be with you. You want them on the light side of “the force,” not as detractors on the dark side.

Understand And Change Perception To Get Your Stakeholders On Your Side

Tech leaders can build better stakeholder relationships and strengthen how they achieve their strategy and goals by recognizing that the perceived value of all that IT does varies, involves trade-offs and even has an emotional element. And this differs from stakeholder to stakeholder. For example, Apple users willingly pay a premium for Apple products, as they value the status and experiential dimension. Others are happy with a comparably specified but cheaper alternative product. Or as one CIO realized when their CEO was pushing for a Databricks solution, it was not because they wanted the capabilities it offered but because they associated the technology with being seen as innovative.

Check out my latest report coauthored with Maxie Schmidt-Subramanian, Value Perception — The Key To Aligning Tech’s Business Value, to see seven recommended steps to maximize value for your stakeholders. The report guides you on where and how to start; what techniques to adapt into your stakeholder engagement activities; and how to continually improve value alignment, effectiveness, and consistency. You will no longer be frustrated with your stakeholders. “The force” will be with you to align the business value of technology.

(Photo by Cade Roberts on Unsplash)