Have you ever noticed how much energy is put in getting stakeholders to work together when they actually won’t (and don’t), even when it is in their best interests?

A fine example of this is the change management procedure. Sometimes more energy is spend in analyzing and discussing changes then in actually creating the changes. The change could have been realized in less time then was spend on discussion and creating paperwork. 

Sometimes this is caused by the complexity of the product but more often it has to do with the misalignment of the stakeholders interests and a lack of trust. Somehow a project that has started with a common goal has become ugly. How come and how to prevent this from happening?

I think a lot of projects have an intrinsic win-win scenario. That’s why the parties decided to work together in the first place. It is very important to state each stakeholders interests in the project explicitly from the start. How can there be trust when the intentions and stakes are not clear? 

The initial project plan should use the win-win mentality as a basis for procedures and responsibilities. This is not naive, it is very effective. 

Sadly often the project manager feels the need for some ‘leverage’ and creates a plan which does not balance each others interest and responsibilities.
Of course what happens then is that the customer is pushed from a collaborative mode into a formal mode with a lack of trust.

Also each time something ‘bad’ happens effort should be put in aligning the stakeholders. This is also often not the case which makes collaboration harder and makes the project team less effective.