This article explains Influence Mapping in a practical way. After reading you will understand the basics of this powerful project management tool.
Who are exactly involved in making important decisions and which groups influence such a decision the most? Influence Maps are visual models showing the interests of different groups and the people who influence a project or decision the most. Managers have different interests than employees and customers influence organizations differently from suppliers.
Influence mapping, a closer look
As organizations deal with various public groups and stakeholders, Influence Mapping is also known as Stakeholder Influence Mapping. Apart from the stakeholders themselves, their positions and motives are important when making decisions as well as the nature, the direction of the decision and the degree of the stakeholders’ influence.
Using Influence Mapping, the strength of influence of the different stakeholders is made clear. The relationships between the different stakeholders as well their influence on each other are mapped. This will give an organization a clear understanding of the (power) balance between all the stakeholders. Influence mapping makes clear that influence is not always exerted by means of traditional hierarchical lines but that other stakeholders exert influence as well.
There are considerations for organizations when constructing Influence maps:
- The size of the group of stakeholders and their individual, overall influence.
- The relationships between stakeholders, in Influence Mapping represented by the presence of lines/arrows between them.
- The amount of influence stakeholders have over each other, in Influence Mapping this is represented by the heaviness of the colours of the lines drawn between them.
However, influence is not static, it changes over time just like the circumstances and decisions. In a major deal there are other stakeholders involved than in a decision with which software the company is going to work. Therefore it is important to create separate Influence maps for each situation, important decision or project, so that a clear overview is created of the stakeholders at that moment. Using this insight, the decision making process will be more effective and less time-consuming. Using Influence Mapping organizations many benefit from these sources of influence and make tactical use of these stakeholders or play them off against each other if necessary. The latter usually occurs when there are external stakeholders involved.
- Bourne, L., & Walker, D. H. (2005). Visualising and mapping stakeholder influence. Management Decision, 43(5), 649-660.
- Bourne, L., Shelley, A. & Walker, D. H. (2008). Influence, stakeholder mapping and visualization. Construction Management and Economics, 26(6), 645-658.
- Newcombe, R. (2003). From client to project stakeholders: a stakeholder mapping approach. Construction Management and Economics, 21(8), 841-848.
- Schiffer, E. (2007). Net-map toolbox: Influence mapping of social networks.
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