Section One - Stakeholder analysis
A story about finding stakeholders and a griefbot (9 minutes)
In this crash course we will first talk about analysing stakeholders of a certain technology. How do you identify, prioritise and understand your stakeholders? After that, we will look at platforms in section two, three and four. Finally, in section five, we will combine our insights in stakeholders and platforms. In section five we will do a stakeholder analysis of a platform.
Importance of stakeholders
In crash course one we learned that technology is determined by its users. A hammer, for example, is a very efficient tool for driving a nail in the wall, but it can also be used for hitting another person.
The way people use technology and the way other stakeholders relate to technology largely determines the impact of a technology. Therefore, if you think about the impact of technology, if you design or program or just want to use technology, then it is good to know who the stakeholders are. After all, when you overlook a stakeholder, it can have major consequences for the impact of a technology.
Stakeholder analysis in general
Most stakeholder analysis, methods or literature focusses on identifying and assessing stakeholders in a project or in an organisation. We could not find models, videos or literature that was specific for finding and analysing stakeholders of a certain technology. That is why we created our own model which is mainly about common sense and asking four questions:
- Who are the stakeholders? (Yeah, you did not see that one coming, did you?)
- How are the stakeholders affected?
- Do you really understand the stakeholders?
- Which stakeholders do you want to take into account?
Who are the stakeholders?
This is probably the most important question because if you miss a stakeholder, this can cause a lot of problems later on. There are a lot of stakeholders that are quite obvious for a certain technology. Let’s use a simple digital technology as an example: the digital camera. First, we make a list of people that are directly affected:
- People/organisations who buy a digital camera;
- Companies and stores that sell digital cameras;
- Companies that have to do the services and repairs on the digital cameras.
Then there are a lot of stakeholders that are indirectly affected (note: this list is far from complete):
- Companies that sell analog cameras;
- People that want to buy digital cameras but do not have the means;
- Companies that are selling digital photo albums;
- And so on.
And then you have a list of stakeholders that are indirectly-indirectly affected (and this list really, really is far from complete):
- People that do not want to be photographed;
- Portrait rights and privacy advocates;
- Photographers that were very good at taking analog photographs being pushed out of the market;
- Managers of tourist attractions where people taking photographs are obstructing the view;
- And so on.
And there are lots and lots more. Way to many to take them all into consideration. That is why it is important to also think about the next question.
How are my stakeholders affected?
In this phase, you try to find out how your stakeholders are affected. You write this down in a few words. It doesn’t have to be a complete analysis. You will find, that as you are doing this, you will sometimes then think of new stakeholders. The first two questions can best be answered in a multidisciplinary and diverse group. Conducting some kind of brainstorming session is highly recommended.
Watch this video on brainstorming (2 minutes):
And still, even after some near-perfect brainstorming, you will find out, that when your technology goes live, some stakeholders will emerge that you did not expect.
Do I really understand my stakeholders?
A common misconception in the steps above is that you think for your stakeholders. You think people will like or not like something, but do you really know?
Let’s look at an example. Suppose, you are a company that sells Robot Vacuum Cleaners. One group of the stakeholders you have identified are housemaids. You think they will not pleased with your technology because automatic vacuuming means that people have less need for domestic help and that this will negatively influence the earnings of the house maids. But after you spoke to some maids, you learned that most of them do not have enough time to finish all the chores. This leads to unhappy customers and a lot of stress. A robot vacuum cleaner will free up time to do the other chores and will lead to less stress and more satisfaction.
After you have identified your most important stakeholders, best thing is to consult them and not assume what they think. Consulting your main stakeholders will really help you to determine the impact of your technology.
Take into account?
Finally, you have to think about which stakeholders you want to take into account when designing, using or selling your technology. Let’s look at this example of a griefbot.
First read this article to understand what a griefbot is.
So, a griefbot is a chatbot that is based on the data trail of the deceased. This way you can still have a chat with someone that has died. The griefbot uses all data objects that have been created by the deceased. For example, WhatsApp conversations, LinkedIn pages or Facebook posts. By using advanced AI the griefbot learns the tone of voice of the deceased.
You can probably think of a lot of stakeholders with products like this. Suppose you also have identified fundamental Christians as a stakeholder (indirect-indirect). They will probably not like the idea of a griefbot. You can take this seriously. You can communicate with them, inform them, maybe even change your the design of the technology. But you can also choose not to take them in account.
In the Technology Impact Toolkit we created a cycle for the griefbot. If you are interested in the stakeholders we found or other characteristics of the griefbot, you can find them here.
Choosing which stakeholders to take into account and which stakeholder to ignore, is also an important choice.
We have created a really simple template (CC7_Stakeholders_Template.pptx) to help you register and categorise the stakeholders. Of course, you can also use the stakeholders' category in the Technology Impact Cycle Tool.
Take aways from section one:
- Finding and assessing stakeholders of a technology is mainly about using common sense and asking the right questions;
- Thinking about stakeholders is very important because the impact technology is determined by people;
- Who are my stakeholders (direct, indirect, indirect-indirect);
- How are the stakeholders affected?
- Are they consulted?
- Are they taken into account?
- Brainstorming and thinking about stakeholders in diverse teams is very effective;