Multiple Stakeholders Quotable Magazine

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5 Tips to Survive a Project with Multiple Stakeholders

One of the biggest benefits of entrepreneurship is being your own boss. You are able to build a business around your goals and ideal lifestyle. You get to write the script on who you work with and how you work with them. It’s like being a private chef, creating a beautiful meal for your favorite client. Being the only one in the kitchen means you get to call the shots from start to finish. No one telling you when to start the pasta or stir the sauce. You have full control.

But what happens if your client has bigger needs or a larger goal? Perhaps they want a 4-course meal prepared for a larger audience? Suddenly you may find there are several cooks in the kitchen and things feel a little more complicated. You have to ensure the menu is perfectly selected so everything goes together for the end result, while also ensuring there is space for everyone to work in their zone of genius.

So when your favorite single-meal client suddenly needs a 4-course dinner prepared for a 25-person party, how can you effectively all work together so it doesn’t feel like there are too many cooks in the kitchen?

As an entrepreneur with a very specific service, my clients may also require the support of complementary services to reach their end goal. For example, as a brand photographer, my clients may be looking to create images for their new website. Many times they are working with a brand or website designer at the same time. Suddenly, I’ve gone from the private chef to a fully staffed kitchen, with all of us working independently, but collectively to create a beautiful product for the same client.

If you are used to working primarily by yourself you may find projects with multiple stakeholders overwhelming, and in some cases result in extra effort or time. So below are 5 tips on how you can survive a project with multiple stakeholders.

Develop a strategy that outlines the order in which things need to be delivered and then ensure all stakeholders align.

For example, if my brand photography client is also working on brand strategy, it makes sense to hold the shoot once that strategy is defined. This is because many concepts developed as part of a brand strategy (brand pillars, mission, audience personas, messaging) can inform the direction of the shoot. So it would be helpful to ensure your client and the brand strategist agree that this is the best path forward.

Communication is key.

This sounds very obvious but if the cook on the grill isn’t talking to the cook manning the pasta you’re bound to either get super well-done steak or super soggy pasta. Similarly, many web designers I work with will have key areas on the website where they want to use photos. It’s in my best interest to maintain communication with them to ensure I don’t miss a shot during my photography session with the client.

Recognize and appreciate each stakeholder’s zone of genius (ZOG).

As a brand photographer, I recognize and understand many concepts that go into making a strong and successful brand. But I’m not a brand strategist. I fully accept where my strengths are and where I can rely on other stakeholders to weigh in. Therefore I will stick with my ZOG as the photographer and allow others to do the same.

Always keep your client in mind.

Working with multiple stakeholders and personalities can sometimes get dicey and may even lead to a breakdown in communication. When the situation gets heated, remember that it’s time to put away the ego and make sure the client’s needs are being met. On the other end, when there is something that needs to be addressed, and you feel very strongly about it, the best thing you can do is refer back to tip 2 and communicate with everyone. Avoid throwing anyone under the bus and instead of only pointing out the problem or issues, offer solutions and ways to move forward.

Use tech to your advantage.

If there is a lot of information being shared via email, consider setting up a google drive folder or dropbox folder to keep everything accessible to all the stakeholders. For visual communication, Milanote is a great choice. While it’s not a completely free service, it can make sharing visual ideas a breeze. You may also find that others on the team will have alternative ways of sharing information and use different systems. In these situations, I recommend being open and flexible to using something different as you may end up learning something new!

Projects with multiple stakeholders don’t have to be difficult. It’s all about managing the process/strategy, keeping the lines of communication open, recognizing each individual’s ZOG, letting go of the ego, and leveraging tech to your advantage. So the next time you have a project or a client with multiple stakeholders involved, don’t let a full kitchen scare you. Instead, roll up your sleeve, leave the ego at the door and put on that amazing 4-course meal for your favorite client.

JESSIE WYMAN is the owner/photographer of Jessie Wyman Photography where she works with female business owners looking to leave the bootstraps behind and elevate their brand with beautiful (and on-brand) imagery. She lives just outside of Boston, Massachusetts with her husband George. You can find more about her at and

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