Want to make change happen with less effort and more impact? Do a stakeholder map. Here’s how:
Step 1. Map Who.
To start with, you’ll need an idea of the change you want to make happen. With this in mind, work out who your most important stakeholders are. Who are the ones who have something at stake and need to be involved in making the change happen? Put their names down on a piece of paper in ‘mind map’ style, along with yourself in the middle.
Put a star next to the ‘critical few’. These are the ones who really matter. The ones you know that if you don’t get them across the line, your plans are dead in the water.
Step 2. Map Your Connections
Draw lines between you and each person. Think about the quality of relationship (trust, openness of communication) you have with each of them. Give that relationship a rating between 1-10, with 10 being the highest.
Step 3. Map Their Relationships
Think about what you know about the relationship each of your stakeholders has with the others. Where you know there is a relationship, draw a line between those people. Based on your best estimate, give each of those relationships a rating on a scale of 1-10.
Step 4. Find The Leverage Points
When you find leverage points in a system, you can make changes happen much more easily. In the case of a stakeholder map, leverage points are certain people, or groups of people.
In our example, Andy is a strong leverage point. I’ve identified Kelvin and Jane as critical stakeholders. While I have a pretty good relationship with Jane, I don’t have a strong relationship with Kelvin. But I have a strong relationship with Andy, who also happens to have a pretty strong relationship with Kelvin. So, I’m thinking that I could leverage this dynamic to get Andy to influence Kelvin. And given the relatively strong relationships between Andy, Jane and Kelvin, there’s further opportunity to leverage that too.
Does this all sound a little Machiavellian? Perhaps. And we know that relationships are the currency of change. So when you map out the dynamics at play, you can use them to your advantage. Sounds smart to me.