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Stakeholder Maps

What is it?

Stakeholder maps are visual diagrams that depict the relationship of stakeholders to the solution and to one another. There are many forms of stakeholder map, depending on the issues being examined and the creators preferences. The most common form of a stakeholder map is a simple four-box chart similar to a SWOT Analysis diagram. However there are a number of other options used as well.

Why do it?

Stakeholder maps help identify particular stakeholders or stakeholder groups who have specific characteristics; or who need or may benefit from specific contact or management strategies. They also help guide stakeholder analysis and management discussions among the project team. However, the key benefit of Stakeholder Maps is not the maps themselves, but the analysis and discussion among the project team that goes into making them.

How do I do it?

The following are some examples of different types of Stakeholder Maps.

Power - Interest Map

A Power-Interest Map is usually drawn as a simple 2x2 grid that represents power on the vertical axis (low rising to high) and interest along the horizontal axis (low on the left to high on the right). The project team assigns stakeholders to different squares of the grid depending on their level of power and corresponding interest.

Power in this case refers to a stakeholders ability to exert power over the project and usually takes the form of decision-making power, budgetary power, or resource power. However, the project team can define the exact parameters in whatever way they feel best.

Interest in this case refers to a stakeholders interest in the project results, although a project team may want to create multiple power-interest maps for specific areas of the project or solution.

Assessing stakeholders along these two axis can help the project team in formulating a Stakeholder Management plan [1], and the Business Analyst in identifying critical stakeholders to elicit from, and validate and verify requirement with.

You can create a power - interest map very easily in Excel, or using the standard PowerPoint "Basic Block List" Smart Art as I have done below.

4-sector Power-Interest map

An alternate version of this power - interest map is sometimes done as a 3x3 grid, instead of 2x2. With this option instead of only binary high and low options along each axis, the grid uses three levels of Little, Some, and High for it's levels. The version of a 3x3 power-interest map looks like this: [2]

6-sector Power-Interest map

Power - Support Map

This is just like the Power-Interest Map above, except the project team assesses stakeholders along their level of power versus their level of support for the project. The goal is to map stakeholders into strong and weak supporters, and strong and weak opponents. Or if you want to include a Neutral category, you can use the 3x3 grid format. [3]

Hub and Spoke

This type of Stakeholder Map was proposed by Glenn Hughes [4] and takes the form of a Hub and Spoke layout. In the center of the map is the project or project goal. Around the central project are additional circles that are connected to the central project circle. The type of the line, the size of the stakeholder circle, and the color of the circle all have specific meanings. Hughes' original post used the definitions below and the example he provided is below that.

Hub and Spoke sample from Huesworks

However, in order to make this a bit more generally usable, I would suggest making the following changes to the schema.

This results in a diagram that could look something like this:

Bubble Map

This diagram can be easily created using the drawing tools in PowerPoint, Visio, or Excel using the basic shape drawing functions.

What Should the Results be?

The results of creating a stakeholder map should be a better understanding of stakeholders in relation to the project and each other. The process of creating the map should result in knowledge of the stakeholders that will guide further stakeholder analysis and the stakeholder management effort.




  1. Article: Stakeholder Analysis - Winning Support for Your Projects. Rachel Thompson. On the web site.
  2. Reference: Stakeholder Analysis Toolkit. Manchester Metropolitan University.
  3. Article: Some Practical Tools for Stakeholder Management. Esther Ham. From the web site. 2011.
  4. Blog Post: How to Make a Stakeholder Map. Glenn Hughes. On the Huesworks blog. 2009.

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© 2013 by David Olson