In a business strategy context, a stakeholder analysis is defined as the process of mapping the ecosystem of an organisation and potential changes that relate to each of them. The information derived from mapping each stakeholder is then used to plan an action with the least resistance. Stakeholder analysis is key in stakeholder management as it’s effectively a balancing act of competing interests between all stakeholders. Even so, the analysis does not disqualify the option of overriding the interests of one group versus another, but it definitely tries to ensure that all affected and affecting an action plan of change will be taken into consideration.
Competently managing an organisation’s stakeholders can help leaders ensure that key company projects triumph while otherwise could have collapsed during implementation. In fact, a proper analysis breaks down the types of stakeholders into Primary stakeholders (most affected by changes), Secondary stakeholders (most indirectly affected), and Tertiary stakeholders ( who are impacted the least). However, most importantly, a consultant should be able to screen and identify the Key stakeholders. These are individuals in key positions that carry a significant influence within the organisation that can belong to any of the other three groups.
Any current or aspiring leader, CEO, founder or strategist should become aware of his/hers surroundings and learn to mentally map the company’s stakeholders in real time. In essence, this is what leadership is made at; by understanding group dynamics and managing expectations while driving strategic growth. Leaders’ actions matter because they strongly affect other people. The more people are affected, the more likely it is that they will be pushing back over significant organisational changes. Stakeholders can be strong supporters or blockers of change. So, identifying stakeholders and winning them over is fundamental for sustainable growth.
See here the list of most important things to keep in mind:
- Use intuition and EQ to identify group dynamics.
- Determine who are the most relevant stakeholders.
- Map primary, secondary and tertiary stakeholders.
- Objectively pinpoint the most relevant key stakeholders.
- Find balanced wins for all of them prior to announcing any plan.
- Consult with each one of them independently prior to any focus group.
- Find alignment with the strongest stakeholder that the project depends on.
- Help address any issues early on in the organisational and planning stages.
- Present pros and cons of implementing or not implementing change to all.
Ideally, a stakeholders analysis must be accomplished with the help of a specialist. Someone who is a trained professional in both psychological profiling as well as organisational dynamics. Stakeholders analysis involves sensitive information, therefore, the specialist/consultant must be aware of the possibility of uncovering unproductive interests and hidden agendas when examining stakeholders. Ideally, they should have sufficient levels of trust with leadership to carefully reveal these issues and deal with potentially damaging information. Mapping reactions and ideas throughout the project is wise and prudent particularly when there is trouble on the horizon. However, stakeholder analysis should be constantly revised to saveguard the implementation of the corporate strategy.