Collaborating And Engaging WITH Your Stakeholders

In Business Change, Digital Transformation by IRM UK4 Comments

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When I talk about elicitation, facilitation, collaboration, and especially engagement the key word that comes up is WITH.  Elicit WITH your stakeholders.  Facilitate WITH your stakeholders.  Collaborate WITH your stakeholders.  And especially, engage WITH your stakeholders.

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Jamie Champagne, Business Analyst Speaker and Trainer, Champagne Collaborations
Jamie will be speaking at the Virtual Business Change & Transformation Conference Europe 17-19 May 2021 on the subject ‘Collaborating and Engaging Even When You’re Not In the Same Room‘.

Think about it.  How much are you talking TO someone rather than talking WITH someone?  In change-based work, all those skills with business analysis, project management, and process improvements, all require you to work with people to get things done. And most of the time, if you are in any kind of facilitator role, you realize that the decisions, the authority, the ownership is not your own.  It is your stakeholders.  You are facilitating THEIR success.  So why would we ever tell them what to do?

Sure, you present recommendations and suggestions, but ultimately many change-agents are in the facilitator role and that means it is all about making it easy for THEM.  When you are facilitating sessions, make it easy for them to share and communicate ideas.  Make it easy for them to see the options available.  Make it easy for them to see the impacts of decisions.  Work WITH them to build joint understanding. 

The most powerful tool often comes from making the stakeholders not only feel like ideas are their own, but that THEY have great ideas!  Too often in facilitation you can find yourself struggling to get the buy-in of the stakeholders.  It is often because YOU are doing too much of the work.  You make it easy for your stakeholders to leave it to you.  When you get your teams to collaborate together as a team, the team feels they come up with the great ideas.  The team feels they made the decision.  And that is where the buy-in comes into play.  They are more apt to run with their own idea than someone else’s.  And when it is a collaborative idea, that means that everyone built the idea together, the team stays committed longer and is more passionate to dive in and contribute. 

So again, think about your sessions you are running, especially now that many of us have gone virtual for interactions.  Are you conducting meetings where you are talking TO someone.  Consider if you are talking and then pausing to wait for response.  Assess yourself and think about how many times you have started a meeting, wanting answers and you think you already know those answers.  Are you open to the ideas that are coming?  Can you encourage the other attendees to ask the questions of each other?  How about as simple as giving everyone something to comment about?  Rather than it be a confrontation-type feeling of me versus you, so they respond to you, share a screen or a whiteboard or other visual image.  Have attendees comment about THAT item, THAT solution, THAT product.  Now you are back in the facilitator role.  Can you turn on annotation so they can give the work item the feedback?  Can you give them voting options or selections that they do in real time so the team SEES the feedback?  Creating a collective space for the session shows the joint ownership of the group.  They see what THEY are creating and working on.  You are simply enabling them!

So I ask you to think about the next meeting or working group session you are about to have.  Ask how you can be in that facilitator role and encourage the attendees to ask the questions of each other.  Ask how you can get everyone to participate with the other attendees.  Focus the engagement on the attendees WITH each other and you will find success WITH many groups!

Want to learn more?  Make sure to join Jamie at IRM UK’s Business Change and Transformation Conference this May where she’ll be engaging WITH you as she walks you through these techniques!

Jamie is beyond her “passionate BA” title and truly embodies business analysis and adding value to those around her every day. An accomplished speaker, author, and trainer, she enjoys sharing with others ways to improve their analysis skillsets, unique ways to look at the world, and how to be more accomplished with measurable results. You can find her speaking around the world, both in-person and online, on topics on business analysis, process improvement, project and change management, and data analysis and governance. She is an accomplished author with her book Seven Steps to Mastering Business Analysis, 2nd edition, and published courses on LinkedIn and Pluralsight. When she’s not collaborating with her business partners, you can find her collaborating with her friends and family on the Hawaiian waters on a surfboard. Follow Jamie: @jamie_champagne

Copyright Jamie Champagne, Business Analyst Speaker and Trainer, Champagne Collaborations


  1. I love the suggestion to encourage greater participation across all meeting participants. You never know when the quietest person on the call has the comment that “sparks” a breakthrough for the whole group.

  2. Completely agree, Jamie! As a facilitator, it’s important to realise and sense when to ‘step forward’ and interject, and when to ‘step back’ and let the conversation happen. We are there to create the conditions for the discussion… but we don’t *own* that discussion. As you quite rightly say, engagement is so important, and working ‘with’ people is so important!

    Great article!

    — Adrian

  3. Four little letters yet such a powerful message. The next gen workforce is willing to be led, yet they are ever more demanding to be part of the conversation. I love how the author was able to boil those thoughts and desires down to a one syllable word…

  4. Great article Jamie! There is so much power in the words we use. Switching to WITH brought me a big beneficial mindset shift a few years ago and I’m really conscious of how much I’m talking during workshops. There’s a lot you can discover when giving space and not being afraid of silence.

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