Great Divides — Thoughts on Stake Holder Engagement Part I

Chad Wakefield
2 min readSep 7, 2021

In Shangri-La (the Showtime miniseries about Rick Rubin) Rubin and Seth Godin are talking about art in the audience. They say “great art divides the audience.” On one hand you are everybody’s favorite and they love you. On the other, the rest of them hate you I hate what you’re doing.

Projects I think follow this same philosophy.

A great project is going to divide the stakeholders.

A literal interpretation of Rubin and Godin suggests 50–50 with art.

Projects of any sort (art, tech, real estate) have much more nuances to divide that cleanly.

Even rudimentary analysis of any group of stakeholders might initially get a clean subset of that. But really you’re going to hit a color wheel that is beyond black and white. Gray is too easy; so won’t have that either.

Concept is the same though as their sound bite convo.

You cannot attempt to please everybody. Your project is not going to be everybody’s favorite.

You will have some raving fans and people that are really really opposed to what you’re doing.

Does that mean you forget about everybody else?

No.

It just means you have your first two groups of stakeholders identified. By default you have a portion of your work to analyze your stakeholders done.

It also gives you your first questions.

1. Are we just going to focus on these two camps?

2. Are we going to win the middle when those who love it bring others with them? Early adopters making it cool. The haters just fade away.

3. Do we follow an 80/20 approach for the project — idea here is 20% hate it and you choose to spend 80% of resources to combat that (or worse just drug into that fight).

4. Do we give them all weight? License? Standing? If so how much you going to give them and quickly do you move on from actions?

5. Do nothing. Let those buy in who would anyway and waste no time with anyone else.

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