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Episode 305: Managing Stakeholders as Clients (Free)

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Mario Trentim and Cornelius Fichtner

This Interview with Mario Trentim was recorded at the PMI Global Congress 2014 in Phoenix, Arizona.

Most of us rely on soft skills, communication and leadership to manage stakeholders. But while they're helpful, interpersonal skills are far from being the sole way to implement stakeholder management. As a matter of fact, there are hard skills in stakeholder management - tools, techniques and methods that should be diligently applied to enhance stakeholder management and improve project success rates.

In this interview we learn how Mario Trentim stopped the trend of failing projects when he was a PMO manager by researching better ways to manage stakeholders. We discuss an effective stakeholder management cycle and framework as well as how to involve stakeholders in value creation.

Encouraged by the success of his findings Mario went ahead and wrote a book about it. It is titled Managing Stakeholders As Clients: Sponsorship, Partnership, Leadership, and Citizenship. He was invited to The PMI Global Congress to present these findings because he won the prestigious Kerzner award, which recognizes a project manager who most emulates the professional dedication and excellence of Dr. Harold Kerzner.

Episode Transcript

Below are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.

Podcast Introduction

Cornelius Fichtner: You are listening to The Project Management Podcast™ at and once again, we are coming to you live from the PMI Global Congress 2014 here in Phoenix, Arizona.

Podcast Interview

Cornelius Fichtner:Next to me is Mario Trentim. Hello!

Mario Trentim: Hello! It's my pleasure to be here.

Cornelius Fichtner: Yes, finally we meet. We have communicated. You've been on the program before. It's good to see you. It's good to see you.

Mario Trentim: Good to meet you, also.

Cornelius Fichtner: Yes! Congratulations to you because you are the recipient of the Kerzner Award 2014 for Excellence in Applied Project Management. I am not worthy! Congratulations!

Mario Trentim: Yeah, it was a great surprise. Yeah, I'm very happy. I'm very proud of that.

Cornelius Fichtner: I imagine so but unfortunately, there was a big risk that nobody knew about, the Sheraton caught on fire and because of that, well part of the Sheraton. And because of that you had to miss the award ceremony.

Mario Trentim: Yeah, that's true.

Cornelius Fichtner: That is so unfortunate.

Mario Trentim: Yeah, I was a little sad. But it really happens.

Cornelius Fichtner: I was there and I can tell you it was a beautiful ceremony that you will see.

Mario Trentim: I had recording.

Cornelius Fichtner: Oh you had the recording? Yeah, okay, wonderful.

So I learned that the award that you have been given wasn’t actually for your book because your book also has the same title as your presentation: "Managing Stakeholders as Clients". So tell us how did it come to be and this is actually important to understand why you're sitting here. How did it come to be that you received the award and begin at the beginning here?

Mario Trentim: Okay! The Harold Kerzner Award is a very prestigious award and he analyzes a different dimensions of you as a professional. So it had some media, your contribution to project management practice, your projects, the projects you manage. Also it is very nice because they have leadership contributions. They have to tell about your work life balancing. It is a very complete overview of you as a project manager and as a professional. And also I'm a big fan of Harold Kerzner, he is a star and it was a very good experience, a great surprise. I'm very happy.

Cornelius Fichtner: Okay! So first this whole thing started with your book, right, which was an academic project of yours to write the book. It had to do with research, right?

Mario Trentim: Yeah! It all started in 2011 when I started this academic research project. The idea was to try to understand and discover why projects fail. This was the starting point.

Then we developed this framework to manage stakeholders and started applying and improving. We want very good results and we are getting nice feedback from all around the world. People from [Wizard Wall] are sending me emails about the book from Europe, from Asia, from the US and it's very nice to know that people are applying this framework and it is working and it is helping them.

Cornelius Fichtner: Okay and the award you received for the application of the framework you developed to project management around the world.

Mario Trentim: Yeah, that's true.

Cornelius Fichtner: Excellent! Let me take a step back quickly because you are different in the sense that you did not have to write a paper for the congress. You got here, you came here as an award recipient and you presented about your framework about your book. How was it for you as a presenter working together with PMI? How was the experience of giving a presentation here?

Mario Trentim: It was a very nice experience. People from PMI, of course they are very attentive and helpful. I have to thank them. Not only PMI but PMI Educational Foundation who sponsors this award, Harold Kerzner Award. I developed my presentation based on lessons learned of this framework explaining a little about tools and techniques of how to manage stakeholders and also some true stories about projects, succesful projects and not so successful projects, right?

Cornelius Fichtner: Right! So let's go through the presentation and the presentation starts with a very important question. Why do projects fail? So tell us, why do they fail?

Mario Trentim: Yeah, that was the starting point. I couldn’t find it. This was the starting point. As an engineer, I have this engineer mind. I started by looking for root causes of failure and I believe that if I did find all the root causes and I couldn’t try to fix them. That was the idea.

But when we started doing that, what happens was that I found like 50 or 100 root causes of failure by scope, requirements, communication and so on. We couldn’t fix everything. So we had another approach which was try to find what is working, what's the difference between successful projects and failed projects and try to do what successful projects are doing. If you cannot have something that is working, it will be better than trying to fix what is not working. That's the idea.

Cornelius Fichtner: So what did you find that was working that you were then trying to enhance?

Mario Trentim: Yeah, we found that in the projects we researched, they were doing well when you have good stakeholder management. And good stakeholder management, it is like common sense for us. You know that is important. Everyone knows that it is important. Our listeners would agree with us. That is not common practice. You have tools and techniques for stakeholder management. We have a theory behind that. You have methods and people sometimes think that it's only social skills or soft skills and communication.

Of course this is very important, negotiation, communication and so on. But it is not only about that. You need real tools and you have steps to apply these properly and that's why we developed this best practice, this framework. In the beginning, it was only for me. I was trying to write something like a notebook that I would follow and have better results in my projects and it worked. That’s why we published it. PMI liked it, in 2011, 2012 when we submitted the book proposal. Since then, we have been applying it and improving. It changed a little but it's working very well with good results.

Cornelius Fichtner: Okay! And of course the one question I have to ask at this point is your book is about Managing Stakeholders as Clients. The PMBOK® Guide came out. They added a new chapter on Stakeholder Management. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Your book or the PMBOK® Guide?

Above are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete PDF transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.

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Cornelius Fichtner
Cornelius Fichtner
Cornelius Fichtner, PMP, CSM, is the host and the author at The Project Management Podcast. He has welcomed hundreds of guests and project management experts to the podcast and has helped over 60,0000 students prepare for their PMP® Exam. He has authored dozens of articles on and PM World 360. He speaks at conferences around the world about project management, agile methodology, PMOs, and Project Business. Follow him on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn.

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