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Sweet Stakeholder Love — Powerful insights and tactics to deal with stakeholder issues: Book review

09/28/2021 By


In his second book review this month, Peter Smith, MD at Procurement Excellence, CIPS past president and business author, considers the latest book from Sigi Osagie: “Sweet Stakeholder Love — Powerful Insights and Tactics to Deal with Stakeholder Issues Better and Achieve More Success at Work.” 

Osagie’s 2014 book “Procurement Mojo” is one of my favorite procurement books of the last 20 years. This latest work looks to appeal to a somewhat wider business audience rather than just procurement, although much of the material is based on his experience in the procurement and supply chain world. Whether you like the title or not(!), it does tell you what the content is all about – how to win over stakeholders and turn them into supporters of your projects and activities rather than potential blockers or worse.

As always with Osagie’s work, the style is very personal and it often feels like you are listening to him talking to you. That makes the book very readable and enjoyable compared to many business books, although at times I felt a little more structure to the discussion could have been useful (and an index would be helpful too).

Getting inside the stakeholder’s head

But his advice as always is well worth taking. He explains how to “get inside the stakeholder’s head,” because we really need to understand their motivation if we want to get them on our side. He has a gift for saying things that you initially feel are pretty obvious, but when you think further, you realize that you haven’t always put them into practice yourself. For instance, this; “So it’s always helpful to remember that when a colleague or stakeholder comes across as being ‘difficult’ quite often there is more going on below the surface. You may not know what exactly but you get the picture.

Sort of obvious, and yet I wish I’d read that as a 20-something-year-old category manager in Mars, as I failed spectacularly to get a couple of key production managers onboard.

There are many useful tips and tricks too, based largely on the author’s own experience and personal stories. For instance, make sure you allow time in every job for building relationships – in fact, that should be part of every manager’s job description, he says. He wants procurement people to have more of a sales mindset, and incorporate aspects of CRM (customer relationship management) thinking into our stakeholder approach – another really interesting idea. So this is another book that is well worth reading – and only £11.97 or£7.99 in Kindle form!

It struck me that this book, read alongside Profit from Procurement , which I reviewed last week, would be complementary for many procurement professionals. Profit from Procurement will tell you how to do a cost- reduction program from a technical point of view; Sweet Stakeholder Love will really help with those softer influencing skills that are just as vital in terms of achieving success.

And if you are looking at a building stronger partner relationships, there are many tech solutions that can help you. To identify and compare products and their providers try Spend Matters’ TechMatch. 

I promised three reviews, so a very different recommendation to finish.  What do you do when you retire from your senior procurement role? A bit of consulting? Voluntary work? Well, if you are David Smith, ex CIPS President and Commercial Director in the UK government, you re-form your rock band from the early 1970s, write, rehearse and produce a new CD and go out on tour (Covid notwithstanding …).

Gypsy’s Kiss album, titled “74” is a collection of impressively strong, melodic rock songs. It isn’t “heavy metal” despite an Iron Maiden link (Steve Harris of Maiden was a member of the original Gypsy’s Kiss). Rather, it is classic heavy-ish rock with lots of sharp multi-guitar work, and a touch of “prog rock” keyboard from time to time — for lovers of the rockier side of Queen, the more melodic side of Led Zeppelin, or Thin Lizzy and Gary Moore.  And the album has made David Smith almost certainly the only CPO to feature in the Dutch rock music charts!