If you have a very big goal on your hands which could affect a very large number of people, you should probably start off identifying the stakeholders by groups rather than individuals.
The reason for this is that you will find it very difficult to find the best people to be influencing. When focusing at a group level, you can use Steps 3 (Analyse) and 4 (Plan) of this process to work out which group (or groups) are most critical to your success. Once you’ve done that, you can settle on a smaller Influencing Goal relating to each specific group. Then start identifying, analysing and mapping out the individuals. Let me give you a little example.
A Simple Example
A few years ago, I was working with a group of directors whose challenge was to influence their staff to get fully behind their change programme. On a flip chart, we compiled a list of impactful stakeholders such as suppliers, customers, employees and unions. When we then did the analysis and mapping (Step 3), they realised that the key to shifting the workforce was improving the relationship they had with the union stakeholder group – which to them was a revelation which had eluded them for months. So they settled on a strategy of focusing their efforts on shifting the position of the union (Step 4), which became a subsidiary Influencing Goal.
Three of the directors then huddled and considered who the individuals within the union were; analysed them and mapped their positions. In that process, they discovered a number of small but highly significant actions they could take. Six months later, the HR Director defined this as the moment when the big turnaround for their organisation began. It ultimately helped them to avoid industrial action and build an extremely positive relationship with the union.
As I’ve said before, this process is not difficult. What makes it difficult is the confusion created by not using the Stakeholder Influence Process or something similar to view things at a higher level.
Many other areas of the library can give you ideas on who the stakeholders with impact are; however, I’d like to add a small note of caution. Don’t get lost in the process of identifying stakeholders. Once you’ve got enough to be working with, get on with it. You can come back later and refine your list, add some more or throw some off. Unless you start taking action, you’re frankly missing the point of this exercise!