In strategic planning, stakeholder dynamics play a pivotal role, much like having a compass when charting unexplored territories. Individuals or groups deeply engaged in your organization’s goals, often wield substantial influence over its ultimate success. Overlap pioneered a strategic planning process that fused design with strategy development. Core to this practice is engaging people in the development of the plan. Who should be involved and how do you determine the best way to engage them? Enter stakeholder (or people) mapping.

(Check out our previous blog for an overview of People Mapping. You can find it here, or linked at the bottom of this blog).

The Significance of Stakeholder Mapping

We involve people in the development of the plan because it matters to them. When people involved with your organization, from staff to external groups, are asked to participate in a session that meaningfully develops a plan—guess what?—they’re more bought in. They understand the plan. They want to make it happen because they helped create it.

Involve People in Ways they Want
One of the reasons we do this kind of mapping is to make sure we’re involving people in the way they want. I have sat in day-long sessions where a well intentioned person makes a statement that (insert whichever end-user you like) is missing from this conversation today and none of what we’re doing matters. Which, let’s be honest, is cheap. Lots of people have no interest in meetings listening to people talk at them—or endless, boring discussions where they aren’t sure how to interact—or even worse—a workshop that is, yet again, asking people information about them under the guise of “engagement”.

People have been consulted to death—involve them instead! I do stakeholder mapping and engagement planning to understand the best way to structure a moment for real participation. Where the contribution isn’t a solicitation of their information—but rather—a celebration of their contribution. Bring your brain and help us think about what might be possible! What do you think we should try to achieve? Or what barriers do you see to us being successful with this vision?

We try to understand who’s connected to a strategy because we want to have them engaged in the development of the plan.

Three Methods

Three methods stand out as invaluable tools for navigating the intricate landscape of relationships and interests. The Power-Interest Grid, a fundamental and widely used approach, classifies people based on their influence and interest. Meanwhile, the Salience Model, a comprehensive framework, delves deeper by considering power, legitimacy, and urgency, ultimately identifying the most salient people. Lastly, the Influence-Interest Matrix offers a proactive stance by categorizing people into zones, ensuring tailored engagement and resource allocation. These methods collectively provide a strategic compass to effectively manage people in diverse scenarios, enhancing project outcomes and fostering productive relationships.

Method 1: Power-Interest Grid

One of the fundamental and widely used people mapping methods is the Power-Interest Grid. This simple yet effective tool helps you categorize people into four quadrants:

High Power, High Interest: These people have both significant influence over your project and a keen interest in its outcome. They require your full engagement and close monitoring.

High Power, Low Interest: While they wield considerable power, their interest in your project is minimal. Maintain their satisfaction, but you don’t need to involve them in every detail.

Low Power, High Interest: These people are highly interested but have limited influence. Keep them informed and engaged, as their interest can turn into influence over time.

Low Power, Low Interest: People in this quadrant have minimal influence and interest. Monitor them casually but avoid unnecessary resource allocation.

Method 2: Salience Model

The Salience Model, introduced by Mitchell, Agle, and Wood in 1997, goes beyond power and interest. It considers three attributes to categorize people:

Power: Similar to the Power-Interest Grid, this attribute assesses the person’s ability to influence your project.

Legitimacy: This assesses whether the person’s involvement aligns with accepted norms, values, or legal requirements. High legitimacy implies a person’s right to influence the project.

Urgency: Urgency refers to the time pressure a person can exert. People with high urgency require immediate attention.

Plotting people based on these three attributes helps you identify which are most salient—those with a combination of high power, legitimacy, and urgency.

Method 3: Influence-Interest Matrix

The Influence-Interest Matrix is another valuable people mapping technique. In this approach, people are categorized based on their influence and interest, similar to the Power-Interest Grid. However, it emphasizes the proactive management of people by placing them into different zones:

Keep Informed: People in this category have low influence and interest. They need to be kept informed but don’t require extensive engagement.

Manage Closely: High-influence, high-interest people fall into this zone. They require active engagement and close management to ensure their needs and concerns are addressed.

Monitor: People with high influence but low interest should be monitored. Engage them strategically, primarily when their influence could impact the project.

Minimal Effort: Low-influence, low-interest people require minimal effort. They can be monitored occasionally, but extensive resources aren’t needed.

Choosing the Right Method

Selecting the appropriate people mapping method depends on your project’s nature, complexity, and objectives. In some cases, a combination of these methods may be most effective. Regardless of the method chosen, remember that people mapping is not a one-time task but an ongoing process. As your project evolves, so may the dynamics of your people.

In the ever-evolving landscape of strategy development, people mapping guides you through the intricate web of interests and influences, helping you make informed decisions, manage expectations, and ultimately steer your project toward success.

Are you ready to give this a try?

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