3 Simple Ways Stakeholder Interviews Can Set You up for Long-Term Success

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Jessica Tornek is the President of Momentum by Hypothesis. Contact her at jtornek@hypothesisgroup.com.

It’s daunting to look at a timeline for a research project. You have a deadline; you need answers. But, the first phase that can contextualize a project with your internal team is important, really important. I’m talking about stakeholder interviews. There are three key reasons to let an experienced, objective third-party conduct these interviews. Here’s why they’re so important:

1) Establishing goals and vision

Establishing goals and vision is a strong indicator of project success. Imagine your project is a broad-reaching effort to understand your customer and why your business just isn’t breaking through at the right moments. You may have hypotheses as to why that is. It’s in the teams’ best interest to figure that out as soon as possible. But, it’s also important that the team understands what you’re trying to achieve and how you can help. If you don’t get this bird’s eye view from key players, you risk going down an entirely wrong path with your research.

2) Discussing metrics for success

Discussing metrics for success is critical in measuring how the team can achieve those lofty goals. It’s amazing how the gauge for success may vary from group to group. This makes the conversation around defining success even more important. It can inform a better research question and a much better output. What would success look like to different business units or to cross-functional teams? Can that be clearly articulated?

3) Gaining the broad perspective

Gaining the broad perspective from a variety of team members gets to the real business issues faster. When given the opportunity to talk to an objective third party, your stakeholders offer incredible insight and candor from their unique experience and place in the organization. Sometimes the issue is not knowing what you don’t know. This can be dangerous, but mitigated by the collective knowledge of your team.

A cautionary tale, if you don’t take the time in the beginning to understand the foundational motivation of your key team members, the importance of your work may be minimized. Once a stakeholder takes the mental space to commit time to a pointed, productive discussion about the business challenge, you have won a small victory for buy-in later. That will come in handy when you want to engage them at the end of the project to gain alignment, build strategy and move into next steps.

Will you get consensus from these interviews? Probably not. But, that is the beauty of the process. It allows key team members to feel ownership at the beginning stages of the exploration. So, by the time you get to the heart of the project, the team understands where it all started.  

Momentum by Hypothesis understands that you aren’t just asking a research question, it’s a business question. Taking time to sit down with your internal team is one way we ensure that we help to get to the bigger picture. We look forward to partnering with you and making these interviews the first step to moving your business forward.