Introducing Logan Alec Cohen and a lesson in managing stakeholders

My wife and I are very analytical which means we did a lot of research prior to Logan’s birth. Maybe a bit too much. There is plenty of research and documentation available on how to have a child and keep it alive for the first month. However that child is not your child.

This is true in the same way not all pregnant women get the same food cravings. So one parent’s experience will result with a baby which will nurse with ease while another will prefer formula.  Of course navigating all this as a first time parent is next to impossible which is where subject matter experts come into the picture in the form of doctors, nurses, and specialist.  Unfortunately not all of them agree. I never thought keeping my son alive would resemble a software project. I ended up treating the all the medical experts as stakeholders in a project called “Logan Alec Cohen’s first few weeks of life.”

For instance, a pediatrician’s top priority is for the child to hit specific weight targets. So he will recommend introducing bottles, formula, and increased number of feedings. A lactation specialist will be concerned that the child will be harder to nurse with the introduction of the bottle and lack of sleep for the mom will result with less milk production. Of course to add to the confusion they both want to overrule the other.

On one hand it is easy to say one is a Doctor and one is a specialized nurse. So the Doctor’ recommendation has higher priority. However we also experienced two pediatricians from the same practice giving different advice. Where one pediatrician that responded to a call over the weekend wants to prioritize formula and our primary wants it used only as a supplement. If I put on a project manager hat I would setup a meeting between the disagreeing experts and build consensus. However due to their availability that is not possible. So simply prioritizing stakeholders is not always easy..

A typical method of prioritizing stakeholders is by role, influence, and interest/availability. That last bit is key. Availability gives you a point in time prioritization for evaluating feedback. The doctor on call during the weekend get prioritization because they are available at that time. A way we have learned to address volatility of opinions is to ask each expert to write down their opinion with justification. We then keep a folder with all the opinions and give it to the expert we are consulting at that time.


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