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Task – 1:

It’s your first day on the job. Where do you even start? The most important thing to keep in mind for any project is: “what problem are you trying to solve?” That’s not only a question for you, as a member of the system architecture team, but also for everyone who is involved in using the system, supporting the system, and paying for the system. Collectively, these are called stakeholders. A stakeholder is an entity that has needs that your solution is trying to satisfy. You will need to engage the stakeholders to receive support for the system from them, but you will first need to find out…”what problem are you trying to solve?”

Your first step is to brainstorm what sorts of problems your Park Area might have. Think of them and type them down. You don’t need to submit a formal document, just make sure what you submit is readable – the sort of document you’d turn into the team leader for review. Remember to include the worst possible situations that might happen – up to and including an asteroid strike. After you type out your list, see if a larger theme emerges – that is the problem you’re trying to solve. State that, too. This is, roughly speaking, your plot.

(You might be thinking right now, “what do I know about dinosaur theme parks?” That doesn’t matter. Consultants are thrown into new vertical industries all the time. Think through what you believe would happen in a dinosaur theme park – if you need to review what went wrong in Jurassic Park, for instance, that would be helpful. What would happen at a regular theme park? How about at a zoo? How about a hospital? How about Lowe’s or Home Depot? At their core all businesses are alike: all businesses have problems in need of solutions.)

Your second step is to invent a cast of characters for your Park Area. Specifically, you need to invent stakeholders – those who use the system, support the system, and pay for the system. In our scenario, dinosaurs are stakeholders, as are visitors, and many others that you will have a splendid time inventing. For this step turn in a list of names (you can make them up – here is a pretty neat tool for that: http://character.namegeneratorfun.com/) and what they do that makes them a stakeholder. (If you become overwhelmed with a large number of stakeholders it is okay to consolidate them into broader categories – you could pretend the broader category is providing a representative, for instance.)

The step after that will be to fill out a stakeholder map and commitment scale. You can learn about stakeholder maps here: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newPPM_07.htm

The X axis is “Interest”. The Mindtools site refers to the Y axis dynamic as “Power”. There is a VERY HANDY Gartner Field Trip article in the Weeks 1/2 assignment: “A Practical Guide to Stakeholder Management” http://www.gartner.com/document/2232116 that uses “Pull” instead of “Power”, and “Stance” instead of “Interest” and has the axes reversed. 

It’s better to use the words “Influence” and “Interest”, as those are more general. The intersections of Influence and Interest form four quadrants:

You are trying to determine how to engage the stakeholders to gain their support. You need to know where they are starting from. You will need to place your stakeholders into each quadrant. You can use a graphic organizer tool or even a spreadsheet tool. While there are general guidelines as to which types of business entities are put where (e.g. end users have high interest but low influence, and the folks who write the checks have high influence and low interest) you are free to be creative with the quadrant, as long as you can explain it if asked.

Once you have the stakeholders put into their quadrants, you need to determine their level of commitment, which will range from enthusiastic to hostile. For this step you are free to invent whatever level of commitment you want for each stakeholder, again, as long as you can explain it if asked. You are essentially creating a story and this step will give your stakeholders personalities.

Here is how one person described the scale:

  • Enthusiastic support: Will work hard to make it happen

  • Help it work: Will lend appropriate support to implement the solution

  • Compliant: Will do the minimum acceptable and will try to lower the standard

  • Hesitant: Holds some reservations; won’t volunteer

  • Indifferent: Won’t help; won’t hurt

  • Uncooperative: Will have to be prodded

  • Opposed: Will openly state opposition to the solution and act on that opposition

  • Hostile: Will block implementation of the solution at all costs

    What you will be turning in for Task 1, to the Task 1 Discussion Board and the Task 1 Files link:

1.  Brainstormed list of problems your Park Area might have, with a big picture problem (aka, “The Plot”) stated, too

2.  Invented cast of stakeholder characters for your Park Area, including name and duties

3.  Stakeholder map

4.  Stakeholder Commitment Scale chart

***Make sure you specify on any documents you turn in what your Park Area is. ***

What happens after you turn Task 1 in:

  • In order to have the peer feedback work in a timely fashion and be fair to your fellow students you will need to submit it to the Task 1 discussion board by the end of Week 2; you will receive feedback by the end of Week 4.

  • Failure to submit Task 1 to the Task 1 Discussion Board and Task 1 Files link by the end of Week 2 can result in a zero for the Task 1 assignment.

  • In turn, you will be responsible for peer reviewing other students’ Task 1 submissions.

  • You will also receive feedback from your professor that will allow you to refine Task 1, if necessary.

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