For this type of review, remind yourself of the steps in the process of Stakeholder Influence Process and choose one step to focus your review on. It could be that you notice one step which is causing you problems in your progress, or could hold strong opportunities for rapid acceleration. If so, focus your review there by reminding yourself of the key points in the relevant chapter, but also considering the points made below specific to the step under review.
Here are the other steps in the Stakeholder Influence Process with additional ideas pertinent to the review process…
Step 1 – Focus
Assess your priorities and focus your Influencing Goal
After a period of implementation, you may start to realise that the goal you have chosen, or the way you have articulated it, is not as helpful as it could be. Just because last week you thought it was the right thing to shoot for, it doesn’t mean that it has to stay that way. If during the week you have discovered new intelligence in the political side of your organisation, it may be an extremely wise decision to amend your goal. For instance, if you have discovered that the most powerful person in the organisation is going to lose out heavily if you achieve your goal, it would be almost mad to continue pushing for it!
More likely, you could have discovered that a key stakeholder is working on something similar. If you re-position the wording and the direction of your goal to align more strongly with theirs, you are likely to be able to ride on the back of their influence, as well as help them to move forward with their goal, thereby creating coalitions and allies.
Step 2 – Identify
Work out which stakeholders can have the biggest impact
It is surprising how quickly your knowledge of the organisation will improve once you get going with the Stakeholder Influence Process. Once people have grasped the concepts of organisational power, they start to look out on a different world, noticing things which before would have been insignificant to them. If you are including other close associates in the learning progress too, the pooling of your intelligence will magnify this learning even more.
Consequently, there are often significant changes in the stakeholders named on the map during the first couple of cycles of the process. That’s okay and natural. Each time, you will be getting more effective and closer to hitting the right buttons to achieve your goal.
Step 3 – Analyse
Map the position of each stakeholder
Given that the actual purpose of the Stakeholder Influence Process is to shift sufficient power and impact into the Advocates box so that you achieve your goal, things should be changing here all the time. Expect to redraw the map many times during the pursuit of your goal. They tend to get very untidy quickly and that is not helpful when you are engaging others in your thinking and planning. But be warned, if you haven’t got it written down, you probably are not making effective use of the process. So relax your natural attention to neatness and scribble all over them. That you have to redraw them is a great way of reviewing where everyone has moved to in any case.
Step 4 – Plan
Decide your strategy for increasing buy-in
Without doubt, one of the most striking things which often occurs during the process is the realisation that you are pushing in the wrong direction. Sometimes you notice new opportunities for collaboration with other projects, or join forces with someone else. At other times, you may be struck by the realisation that you have misinterpreted some of the fundamental aspects of your project and its fit within the context of the organisation.
These insights can come during any step in the first iteration of the Stakeholder Influence Process, but it is more usual for them to be exposed during a review.
Step 5 – Engage
Adapt your approach to influence your stakeholders
Despite the guidance given elsewhere in this book, and the huge amount of skill you wield, engagement is always a learning or evolving process. It can always be better. If your progress seems to be stuck, chances are high that the problem (and the solution) could lie in the way you are engaging with your stakeholders. If you think this is the case, it is also likely that you will have hit a blind spot, so make sure to get some input from friends, Advocates and Critics. Because of your good relationship with them, you can easily encourage them to help you see things which you couldn’t see before.