Archive for August, 2008

Influencing Project Stakeholders; What we can learn from cigarette adverts

Posted by Peter on Aug 12 2008 | Articles

Smoking is cool

One of the key elements of project stakeholder management is the use of influence (“the ability to affect the actions, beliefs and attitudes of other people”) to ensure that people give their support to our projects.

Advertisements are an obvious example of how people can be influenced, and some of the most effective advertisements seem to be for the tobacco industry. Take a look at the huge hoarding above from the streets of Yogyakarta in Indonesia, with a close-up below.

Smoking is cool

So the image is of a healthy young man sitting at the top of a mountain, bird-of-prey subdued on his hunky shoulder, with a lion guarding him. Ciggy companies tag line “Pria Punya Selera” - with a meaning similar to “A Man’s Taste” in big letters. The only substantial writing at the bottom of the banner says “smoking causes cancer, impotence and birth defects” (or, roughly translated - “smoke these and die”). The ad is, of course, a huge success, with the company now having over 30% market share. The Indonesian government recently revealed plans to start limiting cigarette production to 240 billion sticks by 2010 in a tentative move to curb smoking in the world’s fifth-largest tobacco market, lifting the cap to 260 billion in 2015. That’s still a lot of baccy going up in smoke!

People are becoming more and more aware of the health issues associated with smoking, although they don’t seem to be stubbing out the habit as quickly as you might expect. Around 34% of Indonesia’s 237 million people are smokers, where taxes collected on cigarette production and sales are said to contribute about 10% of state revenues. It seems people are acting on the picture, trying to attain the cool outdoor lifestyle depicted above, and completely ignoring the (rather important) words.

Ciggy ads as far as the eye can see...
Gudang Garam’s arch-rival - LA Lights - stringing banners all over the place

Lesson learned:

  • Pictures and images are extremely important, with people even ignoring words, so we should use more pictures when communicating with our project stakeholders.

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Stakeholder Management and Travel Card System Failures

Posted by Peter on Aug 04 2008 | Case Studies

London Queue

Interesting to read about the ‘chaos’ affecting public transport systems in both New York and London recently, caused by faulty contact-less travel payment cards and readers.

Apparently, thousands of subway and bus riders in New York City were unable to use their cards, as up to 2,000 vending machines failed last week, making it impossible for them to use their credit and debit cards to buy tickets. Similar difficulties also affected travelers in London in late July. This is further to the article here on RFID tags used as travel payment card.

One traveler had an interesting comment when interviewed:

… she said she does not carry much cash because I fully expect these kinds of machines to always be working’.

That’s a good example of how stakeholder expectations nowadays can be very high. And it’s also a reminder that we do need to take great care with the technical implementation of our projects.

  • Stakeholder management alone won’t help if the system keeps breaking down!

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