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Align with your stakeholders’ goals

Imagine that you and a friend are on two motor boats. Hers is moving, and it’s a few thousand meters away from yours. You want to motor up to be next to her. You aim at her boat and run your engine.

Will you need to steer your boat again before you reach her?

Of course you will.

Especially because as you start out, you can’t even predict which way her boat is moving.

You need to stay in alignment. You need to ensure that your progress tracks to where your friend is moving so that you can intercept her—or at least get close.

Software development has an equivalent problem. Your stakeholders will keep moving, because their perception of their business problems and how best to solve them will change. This is because their environment will also be in motion, with pressures from within their firm on different aspects of the problem, changes in technology, your competitors’ product offerings, or organizational changes.

Your understanding of the stakeholders’ goals needs to keep up.

Meanwhile, your team is learning things too. As you progress in product development, you discover different ways to provide solutions to the stakeholders’ goals. You get a better understanding of the overall situation. The more you share your vision of how your product will operate with your stakeholders, the more useful feedback you will get. Interestingly, the more your vision is shared, the more you cause your stakeholders to also modify their thinking based on the possibilities they can now imagine.

Continuous stakeholder alignment might seem a bit overwhelming at first, but there are proven techniques to manage it for optimum results.

We cover these practices in depth in Chapter 5, Aligning with Stakeholder Goals.

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