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Stakeholder Analysis and Mapping: Part 2 of 4 Steps of Stakeholder Engagement

April 10, 2023


Stakeholder Engagement Steps: Part 2 Stakeholder Analysis and Mapping
By Lavaneesh GautamProfessional Scrum Trainer

In the previous article (Stakeholder Exploration: Part 1 of 4 Steps of the Stakeholder Engagement), we discussed:

  • “Stakeholder”- who are they?
  • “Stakeholder Engagement” What does it mean?
  • Pre-requisite For Stakeholder Engagement
  • Stakeholder Exploration techniques

In this article, we will discuss, Part 2 of Stakeholder Engagement i.e. Stakeholder Analysis and Mapping.

Stakeholder Analysis

The definition we discussed in the previous article.

Stakeholder: ‘anyone who is directly/indirectly affects the decision making OR directly or indirectly related or affected by decisions taken’.

This definition is quite broad and hence the list of stakeholders could be quite big. Not all of them are going to be equally important. Their interest and stake in the product will be different. Moreover, their stake in the product may change over time as well.

Hence, understanding their pains, needs, interest, and goals could be important before you engage them.

Remember that not all stakeholders are equally important at a moment. We do need to understand these stakeholders as well. We need to learn about and from them.

Some tools can help in understanding Stakeholder and their needs better.

Empathy Mapping

Source: by 

Dave Gray

Empathy Mapping is a great tool to get a deeper understanding of people’s needs, motivations and experiences. I love it mainly because it covers both aspects of expectations as well as reality.

It’s also useful to build trust between product team(s) and stakeholders. When trust is missing or low, sometimes developers feel that stakeholders want to sabotage the team. However, the reality is different.

The Empathy Mapping exercise helps developers to put themselves in the stakeholders’ shoes in order to see and understand their needs, motivations, and actions better.

To learn more about empathy mapping, read this article from the creator of Empathy Mapping, 

Dave Gray himself.

Here is the link to the article on how to use Empathy Mapping Canvas.

Stakeholder Persona Canvas

Sometimes, I have found that Empathy Mapping can be a time-consuming and resource-intensive process.

I have developed a lightweight tool, Stakeholder Persona Canvas.

What Are ‘Personas’

‘Personas’ are key assumptions related to people. Though Personas are widely used for users/customers, I love this technique to understand stakeholders as well. I found it particularly interesting as many people are already familiar with creating or using personas.

The Stakeholder Persona Canvas includes four parts:

  • General Information
  • Goals and Purpose
  • Challenges and pain points
  • Information Stakeholder Need or Provide

Very similar to Empathy Mapping, it can help us stakeholders better. To learn more about Stakeholder Persona Canvas, please read this article.

Pro Tips for Stakeholder Analysis:
  • Don’t do it alone. Take multiple viewpoints by involving your team members. Tools like Empathy Mapping or Stakeholder Persona Canvas are based on assumptions and sometimes can be biased. Co-creation workshops enable collaboration and generate better ideas. Moreover, team members can better understand stakeholders’ needs, pains and goals.
  • Refine as you learn. These are assumptions only and we might not have all the information when you first use these techniques. Don’t aim for perfection at the start. Start with your best guess and refine the information as you learn more.

Stakeholder Mapping

Stakeholder Mapping is about grouping stakeholders based on how you want to engage them. For this, first, we need to understand Stakeholders. Stakeholder Exploration and Stakeholder Analysis are the pre-requisites for this.

Matrix of Influence

Source: Book Product Mastery by Geoff Watts

Image Created By Lavaneesh Gautam. Adapted from Book ‘Product Mastery’ By Geoff Watts

Geoff has explained this simple yet very powerful technique in his book, Product Mastery.

This matrix has four different groups:

  • High Influence High Interest e.g. Sponsor of Your Product
  • High Influence Low Interest e.g. Governance such as Audit
  • Low Influence High Interest e.g. Users
  • Low Influence Low Interest e.g. People who want to know how things are going

You will require a different engagement style for each group.

  • High Influence High Interest: This is the most important group and you need to collaborate with them. They will help you in building a sound product strategy and also be actively involved in taking key decisions about the future of the product.
  • High Influence Low Interest: This group is generally not interested in the details of the Product but wants to know if everything is going alright. Internal or External governance such as Finance, Legal, PMO, Risk, and Audit may fall into the category. The engagement style that suits well this group is to consult them frequently (probably less frequently than groups with High Interest) if something changed that you need to know.
  • Low Influence High Interest: This group is very keen to know what we will deliver but have little or no influence. However, generally, this group hold ground-level information. Users may fall into this. You would like to Involve them in taking decisions. For example, involve them in the middle of the Sprint in running some experiments or doing usability testing.
  • Low Influence Low Interest: Many people are just interested in knowing what is happening. They don’t have influence in decision-making for the Product. These could be middle managers such as line managers of team members. They probably may not be interested in what details are going on in the product, and also don’t hold the influence to change the product decisions. The engagement style that will suit this group is just Inform.

I love to use Influence Matrix in a co-creation type workshop with team members and key individuals.

Step 1

Create a 2*2 matrix. One Axis for Power or Influence of the stakeholders. Another axis for their Interest or stake in the Product.

Step 2

Create cards or sticky notes for each identified and analysed stakeholder. Start with the one who you feel has more stake in your product.

Step 3

Pick one stakeholder at a time, and place the card into respective groups after discussing it with the rest of the other people.

Keep in mind — I complement Step 3, with a ‘Stakeholder Poker’, similar to the planning poker exercise to generate ideas and quality discussions.

Stakeholder Radar

Image From Professional Scrum Product Owner- Advanced Couse by

If you have been using the above Influence Matrix, I would love to introduce you to the next-level technique — Stakeholder Radar.

It’s a creation of Professional Scrum Trainer Chris Lukassen.

This technique is an extension of the Influence Matrix. Once you have identified the engagement style using Influence Matrix, you can also add their respective positioning with the Product.

In the above image, Direct-Engaged-Involved-Aware could also be replaced by four engagement styles from the Influence Matrix Collaborate-Involve-Consult-Inform.

Not all stakeholders are supportive of your ideas and decisions. Some are supportive, some are critics, some don’t care much, and some are opposed.

So respective positions could be:

  • Friendly
  • Critics
  • Opposed
  • Indifferent
Pro Tip for Stakeholder Mapping

People’s interests, influence and positioning change over time. Hence you need regular reviews and refinement of the stakeholder map.

Regular review could also give you a trigger for whether is there a stakeholder whose positioning you would like to change. For example, convert Indifferent stakeholders into Friendly ones.

Lastly, Keep in Mind…

  • Not all stakeholders are equally important at a given moment.
  • We do need to understand stakeholders’ needs motivations, pain and gains. Empathy Mapping and Stakeholder Persona Canvas can help.
  • Focus on what information they will need from us and what information we need from them.
  • Understand the influence and interest of stakeholders. Influence Matrix can help.
  • Understand stakeholders’ positioning and identify actions or tactics if you want to change their positioning from Opposed or Indifferent to Friendly and Critics.
  • Context changes over time. Needs, goals, pain points, motivations, influence, interest and positioning change over time. Review and Refine Stakeholder analysis and mapping.
  • Multiple viewpoints are always helpful. Involve your team members or other key individuals.

Thanks for reading, and I will see you in the next article of this series i.e. Stakeholder Communication Strategy: Part 3 of 4 Steps of Stakeholder Engagement

To learn more about Stakeholder Engagement, please join PSPO or PSPO-A classes.

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