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Practical Stakeholder Mapping

change management stakeholder mapping

Never underestimate the importance of dedicating a work stream of your project entirely to communications.

We’re not talking broadcast email comms here: where you’ve told people what’s happening and expect them not only to be opened, read, absorbed, and acted upon but also agreed with, inspired and motivated to do so.

It is not enough to tell people what’s happening.

In the project planning stage, you’ll need a formal stakeholder mapping session.

This can take up to a day for complex projects 2-4 hours for simpler ones.

Here’s my process to help if it’s not something you have approached before or have and want to see how other consultants run theirs.


What is a stakeholder mapping exercise?

It’s a way of identifying and prioritising all the people you need to communicate with who are involved in and affected by your project or programme.


Can I do this remotely and online and does it work as well as in person?

The tools are certainly available for everyone who needs to, to participate in an interactive way online to run a stakeholder mapping exercise.

It would benefit the program and your project if you were to ensure that everyone could attend in person.

If it delays the project getting the whole team together, or globally, do run it online. Interactive whiteboarding tools have templates already baked in to use, or you can upload any details you wish.


Get to the right people in the room

You are going to be identifying all the people that are affected by a project and prioritise the way in which you will communicate with them.

You may even get as far as identifying people who are for and against your project, to enable you to prioritise your communications.

For this very reason, choose who you want to be in the room knowing this. Do you really want someone in the room you or others will identify as a detractor? That is questionable.

However, it’s absolutely critical that however you identify people within this project, you have to be okay with knowing how they have been identified at any point.

You will want people in the room who are part of the project team, have the knowledge to be able to contribute, and who you feel is important to be included in this communication activity.

One of the most effective ways of being able to map at stakeholders is that a common matrix which I share with you here.

The following methodology segments stakeholders into how we communicate with them for the purposes of this project.

You will want to identify the stakeholders who have high and low power and influence over your project.

In the top left quadrant, you have stakeholders who have a high power and influence with a low interest, and you will need to INVOLVE these stakeholders.

In the bottom left quadrant, you will have stakeholders who have a low power and influence on your project and low interest. You will need to INFORM then about the project.

In the top right quadrant, you will have stakeholders that have a high power and influence on your program and a high interest. These are the stakeholders you need to engage with most frequently and PARTNER with to engage in communications.

In the bottom right quadrant, you will have to take out of those who have a low power and influence but a high interest in the project and project programme. You will need to CONSULT with this group of people and keep them regularly informed.


Classification of communication methods

As an organisation you will be best to determine what are the communication methods that suit each of the quadrants. Common communication activities are:

INFORM – regular updates

Activities can include:

  • Media Relations
  • Displays
  • Newsletters
  • Website
  • Magazine
  • Email Bulletins
  • Publications
  • Conference Speeches
  • Presentations


CONSULT – engage and respond to

Activities include:

  • Managers Meetings
  • Conferences
  • Q+A’s
  • Internet Surveys
  • Workshops
  • Interviews
  • Consultation Documents


INVOLVE – We can work together where common ground exists

Activities include:

  • Focus Groups
  • Team Meetings
  • Workshops
  • Project Teams
  • Seminars
  • Debates
  • Joint working groups


PARTNER – need to work together

Activities include:

  • Problem Solving Teams
  • Funded Ventures
  • Campaign Planning
  • Joint Working Groups
  • High-level consultation


As an activation session

As a team you will need to identify and post your individual and stakeholder groups to the matrix.

  • A method that gets the most from your team is to:
    As individuals all write on post its your individual and group stakeholders.
  • Post them off the matrix.
  • A facilitator groups and dedupes common stakeholders.
  • Whist you are grouping individuals listen as more stakeholders may occur to the team.
  • If there are further ideas, encourage a second posting.
  • The Facilitator takes you through where they sit on the matrix.

It is also useful to identify on each post it:

  • Whether they are on board with the programme strategy, if yet communicated
  • If they are not on board with the programme strategy, if you have knowledge of this.

Identifying key partners that are not on board, may require separate and distinct communications to understand why they are not on board and to address their concerns.


Post activation session

You now have a map of stakeholders, some clear activities ways in which to communicate with them to help inform your communications planning.

Good luck with your mapping.