Post 660 -by Gautam Shah
A Design is generated for many types of ‘people’. Some are ‘clients’, because they appoint and pay to the designer, and/or finance+manage the project. A user of the designed entity (building, interior design, products etc.) may be a real consumer or a hypothetical profile framed by the planning-marketing consultant or team. It is possible that Design can have many levels of consumers like occupiers, regular and casual visitors and lay-people (uninvolved in design but ‘onlookers’, ‘pride feelers’ or citizens). All these, designers, financiers, project conveners, managers, consumers, occupiers, visitors and onlookers, are stakeholders.
A stakeholder is a person, group or organization, having interest, concerns or grievances for the objectives, policies, plans of actions or effort. These persons are inside or outside the organization, but show a characteristic proximity, intimacy, knowledgeability, and have degree of physical affectations and urgency.
Stakeholders Interests : Stakeholders’ interests are positive or negative but may show contradicting interests. Secondary stakeholders are sometimes indirectly affected, more distanced and may not acutely represent the urgency. Internal stakeholders, at organizational level are like staff, suppliers, consultants, financiers, investors, etc. The stakeholders’ interests could be economics, social, work conditions, safety and security, environmental concerns, public resources and enforcement of Government and other obligatory regulations. At other level the stakeholders could have political interest, propagation of ideology, support or negation of specific materials, processes or technologies.
Managing Stakeholders : Stakeholders represent bridges of social connections, which if properly cultivated help public acceptance of designers’ works. The acceptances include new clients, approvals, grants, loans. The social bridges can act as buffers, to tide over the shortfall, on quality expectations, delivery schedules, budget overruns and professional competition. Stakeholders increase the business credibility of the organization, and personal social reliability.
How to deal with Stakeholders : It is easier to deal with stakeholders as a group than in isolation. Recognize stakeholders for their geographic and class of affectation. The real affectations could be economic, social, safety, encroachment or compromise of rights and opportunities for participation in the process. A stakeholder or the group may want public exposure, a media story or political gratification. Stakeholders are societal inluencers and demand certain respect, and this can be offered through participation or engagements. Both of these can be achieved by keeping them informed in design conception, planning, decision making, implementation, and evaluation processes.