Stakeholder mapping gets people working for you rather than against you step by step guide.

Get key people working for you, rather than against you with Stakeholder Mapping

Read time: 3 minutes


The reason many projects fail is because change is hard.

Big change can feel nigh on impossible sometimes.

There might be lots of rational reasons why your project should succeed.

But if it requires people to change the way they work, sooner or later, you’ll encounter resistance.

Resistance doesn’t mean failure, though. Not if you’re stubborn and persistent.

If someone in your organisation is “blocking” your progress and you’re unable to persuade them to change directly, you need another strategy.

You need to find someone else to persuade them on your behalf.

But how do you do that?

Well, I have a workshop for that! It’s called Stakeholder Mapping.

Once you master it and see the impact it has on the success of your projects, you’ll use it every time the going gets tough.

Let’s get into it.

Objective

To identify the most important people who have a bearing on the success of your project and get them working for you rather than against you.

Sidenote: I will use the word “stakeholder” a lot in this article, but what does that mean? I like to use this definition as it’s simple to understand:

“Anyone who can make or break your project”.

Process

Preparation

Draw the stakeholder map with two axes:

  • The axis along the horizontal (the X-axis) represents a person’s disposition toward your project; if someone is dead against your project at one extreme, to for it at the other.
  • The vertical Y-axis represents a person’s involvement from high at the top to none at the bottom.

Step 1 - Add the most important stakeholders to your map

Discuss each stakeholder in turn and determine their location on the Stakeholder Map by rating their relative disposition towards your project and the degree to which they are actively involved.

Use this Example Dispositions diagram to help you decide where each should sit.

An example of a diagram with the words'example dispositions'.

This example illustrates some typical stakeholder disposition towards a school change initiative.

Ideally, you want everyone in the top right-hand corner = actively involved and championing your project!

But this example shows a broad landscape of diverging dispositions that is more typical.

A diagram showing the key stages of influence change.

Step 2 - Add relationships between the stakeholders

Draw lines between the stakeholders where there is an influential relationship between the two parties.

The thickness of the lines represents the strength of the relationship where one influences the other (politically and/or emotionally).

A diagram of a relationship between a person and a group of people.

Relationships can be negative as well as positive.

The assumption can be that all relationships are positive ones. If you think it is relevant, you might want to illustrate a negative relationship by a broken line.

Step 3 - Identify who to move on the map and create a plan to do it

The size of the circle is an important dimension.

You want the most influential stakeholders on the right of your map and move them up to the top. So if they’re not, you must find a way to get them there.

To shift dispositions toward a more favourable situation, you might exploit the relationship between a strong supporter of your project and someone else who remains sceptical or even cynical.

Conclusion

It’s wise to have a way of visualising how your stakeholders feel about your project.

For example, are they actively supportive, unsure, sceptical, or even against the change?

Stakeholder mapping illustrates these dispositions – so that you can determine what action you need to take to shift unfavourable dispositions more positively.

Be aware, though, that the data in your stakeholder map represents your perceptions about other people – and they may not necessarily agree with you!

So do yourself a favour and keep this sensitive information confidential.

I hope you'll try Stakeholder Mapping. It’s one of the most powerful processes I’ve ever used.

That’s all for today.

See you soon.

P.S. This is just one of more than 60 workshop activities in the WorkshopBank Library. If you’re interested in learning why this is the most complete set of workshop tools on the market (and joining 11,000+ people who already have access), you can do that here.


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About the Author

Nick Martin helps leaders & consultants improve team results with resources, advice & coaching through WorkshopBank.com

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