We’ve already covered why consensus doesn’t equal project success [“Why consensus doesn’t always equal project success (and what you can do about it)"], but stakeholders who claim to have reached consensus when they really haven’t can also be a problem for project teams. Use our list to see if disagreement is lurking among your stakeholders.
1– Key stakeholders no longer attend strategic meetings. It’s far easier to feign agreement when you don’t actually sit in on essential planning sessions and other discussions. Even with a busy schedule and other groups competing for their attention, a stakeholder who’s comfortable with a project’s progress and direction will still make time to occasionally attend team meetings and offer face-to-face support.
2 – Final funding still hasn’t been approved. We all deal with garden-variety corporate delays, but if your key stakeholders have influence over budget matters and you still haven’t received the money you need, it could be a worrying sign. Your champion may disagree with the project’s direction, or could be withholding support in a bid to get their way on a key decision that’s still pending.
3– Negativity rules every discussion. A stakeholder who constantly questions the team’s ability to succeed almost certainly disagrees with some portion of the project plan. In the absence of support, they resort to criticism.
4– Strategic discussions continually circle back to the most basic elements of the project. When stakeholders aren’t satisfied with the more advanced portions of your project management team’s proposal, it’s common for them to return to those aspects everyone does agree on (without making progress on the more contentious issues, unfortunately).
5– Contingency planning is being discouraged. Examining the risk of glitches and making arrangements to address potential issues is a vital aspect of project management, but stakeholders may try to stymie these activities if they aren’t sure you’re on the right path in the first place.