How to successfully manage numerous stakeholders

We break down how to diplomatically navigate organisational changes that include multiple stakeholders, for a successful and inclusive creative project.

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Change is challenging, but by including internal and external stakeholders in processes of transition, you can foster a greater sense of ownership, connection and excitement. This democratic approach not only offers invaluable insights, and a clearer direction for change, it also mitigates risk. With stakeholders who feel they’ve co-created an outcome being much more likely to support it.

Firstly, who are your stakeholders?

Stakeholders can range from board members, shareholders and employees to supporters, users and customers. With everyone’s perspectives offering different, but deeply valuable, information. Speaking to a wider external audience helps ensure you’re creating outcomes that are ‘fit for purpose’. And including stakeholders from within your organisation helps foster a culture of inclusivity and collaboration.

How we help our partners engage multiple stakeholders…  

We’ve worked with many member organisations, cooperatives and companies with numerous key stakeholders, many of whom work globally - introducing a rich mix of cultures (and timezones) into projects. We’ve helped guide these partners and their stakeholders through rebrands, the creation of complex digital tools and made in-depth research reports accessible. So we understand firsthand that the more people that are involved, the more complex decisions can become! 

We have put together some of our most invaluable learnings. Offering insights into how we have helped create inclusive, thorough and accessible opportunities for effective stakeholder participation. 

  • We prescribe a mandatory ‘Discovery Phase’ for every project, where we work closely with partners to help them identify all key stakeholders, both internal and external. Seeing how best to categorise them (i.e. audience x, audience y, investor x, author x, etc.). And getting to know exactly why each group is important, and what they can help us understand about the project brief.
  • Once we’re clear on who our partner’s stakeholders are, we work together to determine when each group should be involved, and vitally, at what stage of the project. You likely don’t need to consult everyone at every juncture (and in fact, this could lead to fatigue). So we carefully structure a plan to determine when to bring people into the process. 
  • To complete this stakeholder engagement plan, we have to check the availability for each stakeholder group. Can they spare an hour on a call or are they time poor and a short survey is the most they could realistically manage? We will support you with a short text primer, setting the tone, expectations and purpose of the project to help communicate with stakeholders and gauge willingness to participate. 

How to engage your stakeholders

Once we’ve worked out who your stakeholders are, at what stages they will be involved, and how much time they have to spare on your project, we will work with you to decide how best to engage them. Here are some of the different tools and methods we use to get the best out of all project participants:

  • Focus Groups: We meet with a smaller group of stakeholders or individuals who represent a target audience. Gathering qualitative data through discussions, observations, and the reactions of the group.
  • Brand Workshops: If your project has a brand focus - this collaborative session is essential. During this workshop, we will engage with stakeholders via activities and discussions which clarify brand values, positioning, messaging, and visual identity. Helping us reach consensus on the brand platform - the fundamental structure that establishes the core identity of your organisation.
  • Stakeholder Insight Interviews: These are more tailored and in depth than a focus group. We will meet one-on-one or small group interviews with individuals who have a very specific role within the stakeholder group, with a more tightly scripted set of interview questions.
  • Creative Review Surveys: As well as in person meetings and interviews, we create online surveys to gather feedback on creative. These are a great tool when specific feedback is needed from a wider group of stakeholders, or those that are more time poor or in different timezones. Crucially, we also analyse survey outcomes, including interpreting feedback from stakeholders who may not be fluent in creative projects. 
  • Loom Presentations: We create video presentations using the Loom platform. Recording our screen, along with audio narration, to communicate ideas, share information, or deliver presentations remotely. This is a convenient way to convey complex concepts or instructions to a wider audience without the need for everyone to attend the same meeting.

Once your stakeholders have generously shared their perspectives and insights, it’s time to make sense of it all!

Interpreting stakeholder feedback

Looking through workshop and survey responses can feel overwhelming, especially when you’ve had dozens if not hundreds of respondents. But once we’ve analysed the data, common threads will always emerge, and a clearer direction for the project is revealed.

By carefully crafting survey questions to encourage clear responses that can be easily analysed, using collaborative tools such as Google Forms, Typeform and Miro, and skilfully interpreting responses from stakeholders who may be unfamiliar with creative processes - we can synthesise feedback into useful and actionable insights.   

Insights that can often provide valuable clarity on project challenges and solutions - influencing the creative brief and scope of work for the project. 

Don’t forget to keep stakeholders in the loop

We must be clear with stakeholders on how the process is expected to go, and update them at each milestone. Whether that’s a Gantt chart that outlines feedback timeframes and expectations (we use ClickUp to flexibly manage all project timelines) or project progress presentations that can range from shareable online slideshows to in-person discussions to video narrations of creative via Loom to screen at company wide meetings, or just simple follow up emails. We can work within your organisational culture to help make sure stakeholders know how their important contributions have shaped the direction of the project.

In conclusion

In summary, nimble stakeholder identification and engagement is integral to a smooth and successful creative project. Ensuring vision alignment, broader support for outcomes, better risk-management and more inclusive decision-making. Fostering a more transparent company culture, and stronger organisational reputation.

"The outstanding team at Yoke did a remarkable job on our brand refresh project! Their blend of professionalism and approachability made the entire journey smooth sailing. Navigating the complexities of Oikocredit's diverse stakeholder landscape with finesse, they ensured that every voice was not only heard but truly understood. The end result speaks volumes, reflecting their dedication and expertise."

Jasmin Panjeta, Communications Manager at Oikocredit