Six Indicators Your Stakeholders Are Misaligned

April 19, 2024
Dana Vetan

If you’re a Product Manager or Corporate Innovator, you’ve landed a thrilling role that blends discovering groundbreaking ideas with bringing them to life. You are both an explorer and a ship captain, always scouting for the next big thing while guiding your crew through the high seas of the business world. The pace is fast, and staying ahead is key!

What's it like to be at the front and in the middle?

As innovators, you're always on the lookout for new trends and what your customers might want next, aiming to keep your company ahead of the curve. Your challenge? To keep spotting opportunities, faster than your competitors.

Yet, there's a twist: you also have to manage the intricate process of turning these great ideas into real products that customers love. This involves aligning your creative ideas with the practical steps of product development that your engineers, designers, and marketers can actually implement.

Your role requires managing several delicate balances:

  • Customer-centric Innovations vs. Stakeholder Interests: You need to envision future products while also aligning stakeholder expectations.
  • Customer Feedback vs. Speedy Execution: While it’s crucial to adapt your product based on customer input, you also face the pressure of tight deadlines to launch these products swiftly.
  • Long-term Goals vs. Immediate Objectives: Aiming high is necessary, but so is achieving the concrete goals that keep the business grounded and viable.

As you balance the tightrope of decision-making, it's crucial to assess if your stakeholders are supporting your journey or holding you back. But how can you tell?

Here’s what you need to look for.

1. Product Strategy detached from Business Goals
  • Does your product strategy seem detached from your business goals?
  • If you were to ask three key stakeholders whether the current product strategy supports the long-term goals, would their answers align?
  • Do your stakeholders have clarity on how the organization will measure product success?
2. Decision Freeze
  • Are conflicting goals among stakeholders halting your progress?
  • Are you caught in a cycle of endless meetings that seem to lead nowhere?
  • Are your stakeholders not aligned behind the target customer segment needs and/or the value proposition?
  • Depending on which stakeholder you consult, are you finding yourself swayed by a tech-first, sales-first, or design-first approach?
3. H.I.P.P.O. Influence

Does it seem like the highest paid person's opinion is always getting the final say, even over the team's ideas? Or over customer needs?

4. Ready-made Solutions

Are you often handed solutions instead of problems to solve?
Does Business often say, "We know what needs to be done and what the users need. You just need to build it"?

5. Feature Factory
  • Is your team just churning out features without connecting with what customers really need?
  • Do you often skip measuring the impact of your new features on business goals or customer satisfaction? Are you sure what's working?
  • Does your roadmap just list features instead of focusing on specific areas or expected outcomes?
6. Stuck on What’s Next?
  • Do you ever feel unsure about what to build next?
  • Is your backlog overflowing with ideas, but you're uncertain which ones will truly make an impact?
  • Are you stuck in the comfort zone of making incremental improvements without really changing the game?

Getting Back on Track with Problem Framing

When you spot decision-making roadblocks, it’s time to engage in Problem Framing. This approach involves gathering your team of decision-makers to clearly define the challenges at hand before jumping into solutions. It’s about ensuring that every decision propels you forward effectively and aligns key-stakeholders behind customer needs.


As Product Managers and Corporate Innovators, your role extends beyond just making decisions; you also need to master facilitating the decision-making process. This crucial skill is often missing from standard training and toolkits when entering this field. For some, this ability may come naturally, while others may acquire it through diverse work experiences, or through specific training like negotiation and communication workshops, or decision-making courses. Learning to effectively facilitate decision-making can significantly boost your ability to drive progress.

Recognizing signs of poor decision-making puts you on the right track. Once you understand the underlying causes of the issues, you can more effectively apply structured methods or tools to improve these processes. By identifying and addressing these gaps, you can transform your approach and guide your team towards the best possible decisions.