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Stakeholder Analysis Toolkit

Stakeholder Analysis Toolkit

As a manager, you have to make sure your unit delivers its results for your customers. And you have to get along productively with your other stakeholders as well. You can only do this reliably when you know your customers and stakeholders deeply. This toolkit will help you.

For a given department or role, ask these questions. The answers will help everyone involved to better understand their stakeholders and their needs.

Who are the stakeholders?

For each role in the department, ask:

  1. Who are all of the role’s internal customers?
  2. Who are all of the role’s external customers?
  3. Who are the role’s stakeholders? (anyone not already listed, but who cares about or is affected by the work of this role)
  4. Who else should be considered?

What does each group want?

In a spreadsheet (one sheet per role), create one row for each group identified above. Write the group name in column A. Then in columns B-D, answer:

  • What does this group want and need from our role?
  • What does this group give to our role?
  • What does our role need from this group?

What are some existing complaints?

In column E of the spreadsheet, write any known complaints that the group has towards your role. (If there are significant complaints between the groups towards each other, but not directly including your role, note them elsewhere, or omit them for now.)

What are some systemic problems?

Where do stakeholders’ needs, preferences, desires, and complaints…

  • Overlap?
  • Contradict each other?
  • Create special difficulties for your role?

Write these out and discuss them with your leadership. See if you can engage the stakeholder groups in constructive dialog about any of these. 

What are some unsolvable tensions?

Of the systemic problems, which are “unsolvable”? 

For example, with regard to the health of research monkeys, one group of professionals is primarily focused on the emotional-social health and stability of the monkey colony, while another is primarily focused on the medical health of individual monkeys. 

When an aging alpha monkey might need medical care, it’s not uncommon for the medical-focused staff to emphasize the importance of removing at alpha from the colony for treatment, while the colony-focused staff may resist, over concerns that removal of the alpha would destabilize the colony and lead to a violent power struggle. 

Since optimizing for either concern will always sub-optimize the other concern, and since each group has a primary focus on their own perspective, these two groups can be expected to be in disagreement and even conflict on an ongoing or recurring basis. 

These sorts of conflict patterns are inherently unsolvable. If you are caught up in one, or are caught between two such groups, be aware that no solution is possible -- there is only a situation to be managed.