Once upon a time in a land far, far away there was a generous, fun-loving King. He was beloved by all of his subjects of Yorktown. His court was like no other. There were jugglers and jokers, wise men and fools, flame throwers and acrobats. It was a carnival of fun.
In addition to his love of mirth, the king was extremely devoted to his people. Unlike most kings he was 'delighted' by improving the lives of his subjects. Unfortunately, the people in his land worked very hard to earn their living and wages. The king lived comfortably, but he was not wealthy. He did not care for great riches for himself, but yearned to improve the lives of his subjects as he was a man of great compassion. One day he shared his goal with the wise men of his court and challenged them to find a way to make his kingdom and subjects fabulously wealthy. The oldest and wisest was his friend Thomas. Thomas promised to find an opportunity for the king to help his people. He was a planner and a visionary. Soon he had conceived of the most wonderful, amazing plan to develop Yorktown into the commerce capital of the country. Thomas' vision included building multiple stalls for all types of livestock and small structures to hold wares. The market would be held each Saturday and people would come from far and near to buy and sell. The King would provide the financing. All of the subjects would contribute time and effort to complete the new market, but eventually they would all reap the benefits. The King was delighted. What a wonderful plan. Who better to execute the plan than his wise friend Thomas. The King gave Thomas his full endorsement and money to finance the vision. He asked Thomas to begin sharing and implementing the plan immediately.
As they were finishing their discussion, the King was called away to help the fool's family celebrate the birth of their son. So Thomas began his journey about the kingdom to deliver the message of future riches. While the plan had sounded excellent at the King's castle it was less well received by the villagers. They had so much work to do now , how could they work any harder? A few saw the vision and understood what it could mean. They came to the castle and began working alongside the flamethrowers, jugglers, acrobats and people of the court.
Meanwhile the birthday celebration continued as additional children were born in the local area. It was quite a party. After five days the King began missing the people of his court and one by one asked them to come join him. Thomas became concerned and asked for the King's support. The workers at the castle began drifting off. The ones that were left started building enormous stalls as they envisioned wild animals visiting their kingdom. Others built intricate, fanciful shelves that could only hold a few pounds of wares. Eventually the joker joined the King, then the flamethrower , and soon all of the people of the court were at the celebration. The King knew he was not needed. Thomas was wise and smart. His subjects were hard workers. The vision was excellent. But alas, soon the workers grew weary and realized they were few in number. They bickered amongst themselves that the King had envisioned an entire zoo, not a market. They each worked on their own design and one day realized that they were too few in number. They would never finish and they slowly picked up their tools and went home.
Stakeholder commitment is essential to the success of any project. While the King provided financial commitment, he did not understand that public support was also needed to build support for the project with his subjects. The King's prolonged absence was seen as lack of support for the effort.
A good project manager (Thomas) will be challenged to lead people through a complex effort without stakeholder support, no matter how wise or visionary. The end product of the project was not clearly communicated or understood. Adequate resources were not allocated to the project from the beginning causing a downward spiral in motivation and direction.
These stories are adapted examples written in my class, IS 6840 (formerly MSIS 488).
© Vicki L. Sauter. All rights Reserved.