Stakeholder Management - Pushing Their Own Wheelbarrow (A follow-on to the Dummy Spit Model)

By James Cattermole and Josh Keegan

In a previous model, both authors alluded to another model often found in the world of Stakeholder Management:

“Having conducted a number of workshops, both the authors have noted that there is always a participant that is pushing their own agenda regarding something that they would like to attach to your project.  It is worthwhile listening to what they are attempting to attach to your project and quickly make a decision if it is “in” or “out” of the scope of your project.  Making this decision early in the workshop prevents scope creep and the workshop and project from being derailed.  It also leads to another model the authors have found in workshops called “Pushing their own wheelbarrow”, but we will explore that one another time.”

Once again, based upon empirical evidence, both authors have decided to explore one of the other hidden frustrations of holding and conducting workshops (or even any project) in any organisation.  In addition, the authors have come to realise that using the term model would be a gross misrepresentation of the term model.

Pushing Their Own Wheelbarrow

Meeting/Workshop 1 – Similar to The Dummy Spit Model, it is during the first workshop amongst key stakeholders, process owners and senior managers that unbeknown to the workshop presenters, someone has come to the workshop with their own hidden agenda (which we will now refer to simply as The Wheelbarrow). 

The Wheelbarrow and The Pusher

The Wheelbarrow and The Pusher


The Wheelbarrow

Upon closer examination, The Wheelbarrow can consist of almost anything, sometimes directly related to the content of your workshop – or sometimes not. It can be changes within or to systems, the organisation or even with the way people are currently working.  Generally, The Wheelbarrow is related to the personal agenda of the person who raises their issues during the workshop you are trying to conduct (which we will now refer to as The Pusher).    

The Pusher

Closer examination of The Pusher can sometimes reveal that this person has been highly motivated about the contents of their wheelbarrow for some time and either cannot obtain buy-in from executive management to fund their endeavours or is unable to find money within their own budget to attempt to fund the changes they are after.  Most frequently, the authors have found the contents of the wheelbarrow are so small that implementing the changes won’t yield any measureable benefits and worse still, implementing the changes will cost more than the measureable benefits.

Presenter Options

The following options exist for presenters when confronted with The Wheelbarrow situation:

1.      Smile and nod.  Seems rude but gives you time to assess if what they are asking is in or out-of-scope of the parameters of your project.  Once you have assessed what is being asked, simply address The Pusher directly and state if it is or isn’t within the scope of what you are doing.  Silence is okay but never let it go beyond one minute*.  If you need to further assess if it is within the parameters of your project, let The Pusher know that you will have to look into it a bit further and get back to them.

2.      As with most workshops you will have a parked ideas list, you can also put the Pushers idea in this list to give you additional time to analyse their proposal.  Make sure a decision is made as soon as possible (ASAP) after the workshop and the result is communicated quickly.  You must take the wheel off the wheelbarrow before it gets up speed and becomes a distraction.

3.      Say nothing. The associated risk with saying nothing in your workshop, unfortunately, leaves The Pusher with the impression that they need to push harder at your next workshop (refer to point 2 below – Future Workshop Options).

A word of caution: It is easy to become distracted with analysing The Wheelbarrow, materials it is made of, if the barrow is rusty, if the front wheel wobbles out of control etc.  It is advisable not to spend too much time on analysis as this may blow-out your project timeline by attempting to be a mechanic trying to fix someone else’s wheelbarrow.

Future Workshop Options

1.      If the Whelbarrow idea is to become part of the project scope it is treated the same as any other part of the project

2.      If the Wheelbarrow idea has been determined as out of scope you need to be prepared to prevent any further momentum at future workshops.  Quickly remind the Pusher of the Wheelbarrow each time they raise their agenda, “I’m sorry that is out of scope” and continue on without further discussion.

3.      Consider removing The Pusher from your workshop invitation list.  If this is an option that appeals to you, it is advisable to consider The Pusher more closely prior to clicking “Delete” on your invitation.  We suggest you ask the following questions (a little stakeholder analysis), prior to making the final decision to remove them:

a.      Is The Pusher a process owner?

b.      Does The Pusher have budget control over your project?

c.      What is the political influence of The Pusher on your project or even, your manager?

d.      Will you need The Pusher on another project? (You certainly don’t want to short-change yourself.)

A WORD OF CAUTION:  When dealing with someone who is Pushing Their Own Wheelbarrow, both authors would like to highlight that The Pusher may also be someone who is very blinkered and focussed on work that is meaningful only to themselves and no one else in the organisation.  Both authors have identified and categorised people with this type of personality as “Propeller Heads”, and have developed useful strategies for dealing with them when encountered either inside or outside of the workshop situation.  Again, we will explore that one another time.

*The One Minute Rule.



About the authors:

James Cattermole has over 15 years’ experience in the business fields of safety, finance, business analysis and process improvement. His previous experience includes a number of years as an electrician as both a team leader and supervisor bringing a unique perspective to the world of business.

Josh Keegan is the Owner/Director of Keegan Consulting Group working with a team of skilled professionals to drive outcomes and results for any organisation within any project. 

Josh is an industry professional and is able to leverage over 15 years of experience to remove painful and costly process to save organisations both time and money through Business Process Management and LEAN methodology. Josh is able to tackle any situation, however specialises in people or system generated issues.


Both authors can be hired as international keynote speakers for your organisation, bringing their unique view and experience to your corporate event.

Click here to contact James and Josh about speaking engagements.