Assessing your Stakeholders
We all have them. They are all around us. We are talking about… stakeholders!
And if they will be impacted by your change initiative – for good or bad – then you need to take time to understand them!
While the work of identifying and assessing stakeholders can be done on an ongoing basis through the change, it is especially important to do it in the early stages when it can inform and influence how you implement your planned changes.
This is why a Stakeholder Assessment is an important tool for the RCA Seasons of Growth™ framework!
Why is this needed?
- You can identify allies, supporters and detractors at any early stage.
- You can learn about their interests – in change or in the status quo
- You can assess how you can respond to these varied interests
- You can design your change initiative to:
- address stakeholder needs,
- take advantage of opportunities and stakeholder support, and
- steer around potential obstacles
How do you do this?
1. Make a list of all the possible stakeholders in the planned changes
- Look for people (and organizations) in various categories, such as those who:
- will benefit from the planned changes
- could lose something if the status quo is disrupted
- may be supportive of the change initiatives
- could be opposed to the changes
- might be engaged in support of the changes
2. Prioritize the stakeholders to identify the 6-7 most important stakeholder.
- You may be able to group or cluster the long list of stakeholders in a smaller number of sub-groups.
- Make sure that these sub-groups have enough in common for your analysis to be valid!
3. Assess these priority stakeholders in terms of:
- Problems: What Problems do they face?
- Interests: What might they want from the change initiative?
- Potential: What might they contribute to the change?
- Linkages: Are there any links to other stakeholders – such as conflict, cooperation, or dependency?
4. Apply these insights as you plan and implement the changes.
- Feed these insights into other aspects of your mapping to better understand the context of the changes
- Which of the stakeholder groups can be mobilized to support the change? How will you approach them and appeal to your shared interests?
- How will you plan to communicate, engage and involve stakeholders as you move forward?
5. Review and update the stakeholder assessment from time to time.
- The process of assessing stakeholders is already a form of influencing them.
- So it is helpful to periodically return to the assessment, updating it in light of new information and new experience.
- And you can update and adjust your plans in light of this new information!
Who should be involved?
This activity can be done in many different ways.
- You can do it alone – though be cautious!
- You can certainly use insights from a solo reflection and analysis task to inform your approach.
- Remember that you will have biases and blindspots, so there will be limits to what you notice by yourself.
- It benefits from multiple perspectives
- A diverse group of people can more easily identify and appreciate the interests of various stakeholders.
- Invite people from different parts of the organization to inform this process. Or from different levels in the organization. Or from different offices, if you are a multi-location company.