AXELOS ProPath, the world's most powerful project, programme and portfolio best practice certifications

How stakeholder buy-in leads to project success

Nicholas Barnett
April 5, 2012

Developing a vision for a successful project

Project managers are very good at setting out the objectives and goals of their project in very precise terms and then turning that into a very detailed project plan with clear timelines. They ensure the entire project team understand their individual project responsibilities and what is expected of them.

But what if the project manager went further and involved their entire team and key stakeholders such as key members of the executive team in a visioning session where a shared picture of outstanding project success was developed and alignment with the company’s goals was discussed and clarified? The benefits and impact of the project would become clear and the pre-conditions for success would become far more apparent. The implications of the project not being delivered successfully would also become clear.

Such a visioning session would paint a clear picture of success and answer the question, why is success for this project so important? If the project team and key stakeholders have been engaged in this session they will be far more energised, and focussed on ensuring a successful project is delivered.

If the heart and emotions of the project team and key stakeholders can be engaged a deeper commitment to success will be gained. This will involve exploring the main benefits that will be derived from the project and why the project is so important for the achievement of the company’s goals. The reasons and benefits of the project need to be described in terms of a meaningful and worthwhile purpose or goals that go far deeper than simply saving money.

Five ways to establish buy-in

In addition to establishing a clear statement of a project’s objectives, project managers should use the principles set out above to develop, with their team, Guidance and Positioning Statements (GPS) for their project. Develop five brief but important guidance and positioning statements as follows:

  1. A Vision (or Aspiration): a description of the main benefits of the project if outstanding success is achieved.
  2. A Core Purpose: the meaningful or worthwhile purpose of achieving success of the project.
  3. The Core Values: those values that are absolutely essential for the project team and main stakeholders to adopt throughout the project.
  4. A Golden Goal: the single most important goal that, if achieved around halfway through the project will mean that it is on track to achieve outstanding success.
  5. A Tagline (or Mantra) that describes what is special or unique about what the project and what it will deliver or achieve.

These GPS should be so well embedded in to all the plans, decisions and messaging in relation to the project that they become a way of life for those involved. This will help engage and energise the project team. It will also mean that the project team are more likely to focus their discretionary efforts towards the success of the project.

GPS Your Organisation by Nicholas K Barnett

GPS for your Organisation: How to energise your employees and build sustainable high performance (see
By Nicholas Barnett
Hardback RRP $29.95; eBook RRP $19.95
Published by Major Street Publishing

Author avatar
Nicholas Barnett
Nicholas Barnett is the author of GPS for Your Organisation (Major Street Publishing) and has been a director, business leader and consultant for more than 30 years. He is chief executive officer of Insync Surveys, non-executive chairman of Ansvar Insurance and a non-executive director of Mission Australia. He was also a co-founder of Board Benchmarking and Gender Worx.
Read more