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Stakeholder Management at it’s best: What problem do you want to solve?

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Recently, I did a test for a ScrumMaster position, and one question was how I could support the product manager when it comes to the common stakeholder question: Hey, but we need it now, faster, and cheaper. So my answer was quite obvious: Let’s talk!

I see this as one of the main tasks of the coach or scrum master: to help the product owner here and ultimately help the stakeholders create a good product that is also used. Here, too, whoever asks –> leads. „What problem do you want to solve?“ Unfortunately, we are often bombarded with so-called requirements without ever questioning whether they make sense or not. But this is precisely what makes a good ScrumMaster / Agile Coach if he supports this.


In the Hands-On-Agile community, Todd Lankford wrote a brilliant article about this topic with some wonderful and helpful answers:
How Savvy Product Leaders Handle 5 Common Stakeholder Asks Without Betting on Hope

Main points:


Here are 5 common asks and savvy leader response, plus my bonus go-to stakeholder response.

Ask 1: “When will it be done?”

      • Savvy Response: “I don’t know, but let’s start experimenting to find out.”

Ask 2: “How much will it cost and what will be my return?”

      • Savvy Response: “I don’t know. Let’s involve the customer to maximize outcomes while minimizing output.”

Ask 3: “Can you fit in these extra bells and whistles before release?”

      • Savvy Response: “Not yet. We need to start simple and evolve only as much as is useful to our customers.”

Ask 4: Can you do it faster and cheaper?”

      • Savvy Response: “Here is what we can do: 1 Order by impact, 2 Learn from each step, and 3) continuously improve.”

Ask 5: Have you started my work?”

      • Savvy Response: “No, not yet. We finish one thing before starting another. This delivers everything sooner.”

Bonus: My go-to response to any stakeholder ask

      • Go-to Response: “Would you like to join us and help steer our direction?”


Roman Pichler also has some excellent advice on how to work on the relationship with stakeholders:

5 Tips for saying no to stakeholder: 

  • Don’t feel bad about saying no
  • Empathise with the stakeholder
  • Reframe the conversation
  • Don’t rush the decision
  • Try to find common ground, but don’t split the difference





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