Stakeholder mapping is a tool that is used to:
- Understand the support and opposition to a planned change such as implementing a continuous improvement program
- Determine who to communicate what to and how often as part of implementing continuous improvement
- Determine the composition of a continuous improvement project team or a steering committee.
The stakeholder map is a simple table consisting of a rating of the level of support or opposition of identified stakeholder groups and individuals ranked by their level of power and influence over the project method or outcome.
The output is a table:
Assemble a team of people who have an interest in the project succeeding. The team does not need to be restricted to the team leading or facilitating the change.
To get the best result, the map should be built through challenge rather than meek consensus.
To achieve an appropriate level of challenge and debate, break the team into at least two groups (groups should be no larger than five people).
Ask each group to determine who are the stakeholders and the level of power they have over the project.
Ask the teams to use three different colours of Post-It notes writing stakeholder names on different colours defined as being high, medium and low levels of power.
Ask the teams to debate individually the differences in opinion that arise from the aggregated view and come to an agreement. (Hint: clarifying what people have actually meant by what they wrote will eliminate more than fifty percent of disagreement)
For those items where agreement cannot be reached, take note of them and move on.
Ask the teams to present to each other the stakeholder groups and power classification including noted elements of disagreement. Ask the team not presenting to ask questions only of clarification whilst a team is presenting. At the end of the presentation ask the teams to challenge the conclusions of the presenting team.
A challenge can be made when there is disagreement but must be accompanied with an alternative view and rationale for the view.
Repeat the process until agreement is reached. All teams may not need to present as agreement may be self-evident. Note any remaining disagreement.
Note: Stakeholders all have power, whether it is the formal power invested in a position of authority or it is social power of being able to persuade others to support or oppose the change.
Repeat the process with the identified stakeholders to determine the level of support or opposition to the project.
Hint: Spend most time on those stakeholders identified previously as having more power.
Note: Some people will actively support the change, putting their necks on the line and working long hours to help it succeed. Others will work the other way, vociferously seeking to scupper your efforts.
These active people are where much focus often happens. However, there is often a silent majority who are more difficult to classify. These may be in gatekeeper positions, where rather than taking positive action, they can subtly support or oppose the change by allowing things to happen or quietly blocking and hindering progress.
Use the output to at least determine what is appropriate and necessary and appropriate to:
- Move the powerful stakeholders from opposition to support or to neutralise their influence
- Maintain the support of those powerful stakeholders supporting the implementation of continuous improvement
- Get early warning of any stakeholders changing position in power or level of support
- Use the output to help determine the communication strategy for the project.