Most projects are multiplayer processes in which a variety of stakeholders are involved. These can be both internal stakeholders, such as a board of directors, the real estate department and various end users, and external stakeholders, such as special interest groups, local communities and the general public. Since stakeholders have, by definition, a stake in the project, their needs should be explicitly addressed in the briefing process. This starts by mapping all the relevant stakeholders and identifying which ones are most influential (usually decision makers and budget holders) and which ones are the most important in the sense that they are affected by the project (usually the buildings users). The next step is to enter into a dialogue with these stakeholders (or their representatives), to get to know their interests, manage their expectations, build up a relationship and give them the opportunity to express their ideas and concerns. The benefit of stakeholder involvement is that it can help to create a more comprehensive brief.For instance, when redesigning a childrens ward in a hospital, it will be worthwhile to talk to the wards headthe formal stakeholderbut it will also be useful to engage with the other stakeholders, such as nursing staff, the patients, the parents and the cleaning and maintenance staff.All these parties will have relevant input for the brief, helping to make sure that no relevant requirements are missed. An additional benefit of the involvement of these stakeholders is that they will feel part of the project, which is likely to increase their acceptance of and commitment to it. The difficulty of stakeholder involvement lies in the potential for conflicting demands. The wards head may have entirely different ideas than the staff or the patients. Unfortunately, there is no magic solution for dealing with such situations. The art of briefing is to synthesize and balance different interests and to look for win-win solutions that satisfy multiple stakeholders. But it is rarely possible to please all stakeholders, at least not to the same extent. This makes stakeholder engagement all the more important, because it prevents insular thinking and gives the projects leadership the opportunity to fine-tune and explain their decisions.Recommendations-Draw up a stakeholder map showing the projects stakeholders and their main interests and concerns (see example opposite page).-Prioritize stakeholders. Pay most attention to those stakeholders who have a large stake in the project (e.g. users) and/or have the power to block or advance the project (e.g. the CFO).-Conduct interviews with the most important and most influential stakeholders to get to know their needs and build up a relation with them.-Encourage and allow stakeholders to participate throughout the process, but define clear boundaries within which this participation will take place.-Approach all stakeholders with fairness. Seriously consider their needs and demands, before taking any definite decisions.