Negative stakeholders will be negatively affected by the project's success, while positive stakeholder will be favorably (positively) affected by the project's success.
Now, you may wonder, why are there negative stakeholders? Shouldn't all stakeholders be positive stakeholders? The answer is always this 8 letter word: politics.
Some stakeholders, especially in very large companies, tend to have some personal agendas that are often at odds with the project itself, which will essentially make them "negative" stakeholders.
Now, let me give you an example of a negative stakeholder. Let's say that the company wants to develop a healthcare system. One of the stakeholders is a very close friend to the CEO of a company selling ready-to-use healthcare systems, so he doesn't want the project to succeed, because he wants the company to buy the product from his friend.
Naturally, a negative stakeholder does not take a passive aggressive state. He will be very active in the project and he'll make it seem like he's trying to make it a success, but in reality he's always trying to sabotage it. Here are some examples of the things a negative stakeholder would do:
- Create a lot of change requests so that the project will never finish.
- Set up very steep quality requirements (this is a favorite by many negative stakeholders, because it'll make them look good and caring for the project and the well-being of the company).
- Creating bureaucratic hurdles.
- Insisting that the project is in bad shape (while it really is not) and requesting corrective measures to be undertaken.
You will always have negative stakeholders on every project you will manage, and the more powerful these stakeholders are, the less likely your project will succeed, so beware!