Learn how to explore and capture knowledge about stakeholders in your change initiative
A Stakeholder Analysis (SA) provides quality knowledge about people and their interests in an initiative. The knowledge is used to manage their interests; and influence design choices for the Change Process (or supporting a change. In short, the aim is to ‘Know they Stakeholders’.
An initial SA commences before/during Project Initiation to quickly acquire significant knowledge that will influence the plans for change activity and development/implementation work.
Acquiring knowledge about stakeholders is a emergent process, best managed with regular update activities and recording tools. The process and product of a SA are typically the responsibility of a Change Manager or Senior Change Analyst.
This resource explains how to do a Stakeholder Analysis. (Another name for SA is Stakeholder Mapping.)
The technique in brief
- Gather knowledge about your stakeholders
- Collate and organise information into a ‘database’
- Analyse information; record your conclusions
- Use stakeholder knowledge when designing activities and artefacts
- Listen, observe, and read to discover what is important about your stakeholders, important to your stakeholders, and how they view the prospect of change.
- Conduct semi-structured interviews to get insights from individuals. Conduct interviews in the stakeholder’s context where possible so they feel at ease, and you can get insight about how their context influences beliefs and actions.
- Conduct semi-structured workshops with key groups to get insights from a collective of individuals. Group insights can often be different than those of any single individual.
- Read organisational charts, reports from other’s interviews with stakeholders, project documentation, etc. Read to source the information that already exists, and to get ideas for questions that still need to be asked.
- Allow for ad hoc conversations that can produce serendipitous results. Ensure you capture useful insights before you forget – often these conversations happen when and where you least expect.
- Meet with a diverse range of stakeholders including those in the project team.
- Ask questions about what has happened in the past, what is currently happening in the present, what they’d like to have happen in the future. Pay attention to what is not said. Observe things in the stakeholder’s behaviour or bearing.
- Important objectives in the gathering knowledge exercise are to
- build rapport and relationship with the individuals you meet, and
- source implicit and tacit knowledge not consciously or explicitly given by stakeholders. Only use a written survey in exceptional circumstances. An impersonal survey can often create distance or disengagement between those leading/managing change and those affected by change.
- The knowledge you gather may initially be recorded in note or transcript form – so it will need to be processed into a refined set of information – both quantatitive and qualitative. See next section.
- The ‘database’ doesn’t have to literally be a database like a MS Access database. A tabular form for organising large sets of data is best; often a spreadsheet is sufficient. Be sure to choose a spreadsheet application which allows easy filtering and sorting of data, i.e. MS Excel.
- Organise the spreadsheet:
- Each row represents a stakeholder or class of stakeholders.
- Each column represents an important aspect of the stakeholder. Values for the ‘important aspects’ are determined on a case-by-case basis.
- Important aspects of stakeholders may include, but are not limited to the following (in alphabetical order):
- Change history – positive/negative change has affected them in past in this organisation
- Change stage – current stage or level as defined by a framework of your choice
- Class/Category – label for the group as defined by organisation or change team
- Constraints – constraints that may affect their participation
- Disposition – tendencies or temperaments that influence default response to change
- Group’s Informal leader – who has authority given by the group for the group
- Group’s Formal Leader – who has authority given by the organisation for the group
- Importance (e.g. Significant; Somewhat; Little; Unknown) – used in Influence/Importance grid
- Influence Type (e.g. Situational; Positional; Personal)
- Influence (e.g. Significant; Somewhat; Little; Unknown) – used in Influence/Importance grid
- Interest (e.g. High; Low) – Use in a Power/Interest grid
- Location/Context – useful values about where the stakeholders is located, e.g. Bendigo; Head office; Regional
- Name – the individual’s name, or the group’s name, or a name you give to the group
- No in group – number of people in the group
- Opportunities – opportunities that may affect their participation; use in a SWOT analysis
- Organisational Context (e.g. Management; Executive; General)
- Organisational Representation – who represents this group to the organisation
- Perceived Benefits – own perception of what good will come from change
- Perceived Problem – own perception of what is driving change
- Perceived Risks – own perception of what ill may come from change
- Power (e.g. High; Low) – Used in a Power/Interest grid
- Preferred ways & means of engagement
- Stake Agency (e.g. Critical; Influential; Interested)
- Stake Type (e.g. Reputation; Financial; Time; Consumer; Producer)
- Strengths – strengths that may affect their participation; use in a SWOT analysis
- Threats – threats that may affect their participation; use in a SWOT analysis
- Unique characteristics (as defined by context or circumstances)
- Value (e.g. intrinsic; extrinsic; efficiency; effectiveness); use in Value matrix
- Weaknesses – weaknesses that may affect their participation; use in a SWOT analysis
- Beware collecting too much information – don’t collect everything on the list above! Beware collecting information for information’s sake – know why a type of information is relevant and useful.
- Provide restricted access to the database – some content maybe very sensitive in nature and should not be readily available to those outside the change team.
ALTERNATIVE: For a visual coherent perspective of a single stakeholder group, consider using our Stakeholder Group Profile Canvas on which analysis (see 3. below) and change impact information can also be captured.
- Sort or filter Stakeholder information based on key groupings. Look for patterns, e.g. synergies, gaps, critical
mass, outliers. (Knowing what patterns to look for or what patterns are relevant takes an experienced eye. If you don’t have this experience, consider consulting with a Business or Data Analyst.)
- Use analytical techniques (e.g. SWOT Analysis (from MindTools™) or 2×2 Grids, i.e. Importance vs. Interest, or Power/Influence vs. Interest) to make sense of particular sets of information.
- Record conclusions from the analysis, for example:
- Because X (what you know about a stakeholder group), then Y (how you will act on this knowledge, i.e. considerations, requirements, etc.)
- Consider representing conclusions about groups of people as Personas. This provides a useful tool for design activities.
- Use what you know to consciously design for a good fit between stakeholders’ ‘need’ and ‘response to that need’. Aim for an optimal stakeholder experience.
- Induct project team about SA process and key conclusions to increase their awareness and ability to apply the knowledge.
- Ensure stakeholder knowledge is applied in design work for the change process (artefacts and activities) as well as the development/implementation work of the project.
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