There are almost infinite possibilities for developing a matrix, depending on which evaluations and insights are of interest. Why is the influence-interest matrix so important and helpful in stakeholder engagement? It combines two important assessments for your project into an overall picture that actually helps you in practice.
X-Axis: Stakeholder influence
I think it is immediately obvious that an overview of the influential stakeholders is important. As a project manager, I want to know who can influence my project and to what extent. But be careful, there are not only the decision-makers in the project and in the organization who are powerful because of their position. Almost as important are those who are informally powerful, who are very well networked or who are in important positions and can create a good atmosphere. And don't forget the gatekeepers, such as data protection, quality management, the legal department or the works council. These are people who have to approve parts of your project and who can cause major delays by saying "no".
Y-Axis: Interest in the project
Why the interest in the project, couldn't I just take the dimension "affected by the project"? You can do that, and sometimes it's appropriate. But you don't get the idea that not only those affected by the project can be interested in the project. It's the same for everyone who "only" believes that they are affected. But it can also be another department that wants to watch you fail. In this matrix you look directly at all stakeholders who have an interest, regardless of their motivation. Interest is always energy, which practically means that those who are very interested are also more willing to take action. And you need to know who can actually take effect.
Segmentation of Stakeholders
Once you have assessed each stakeholder and entered them in the matrix, you not only have an overall view, but you can also better assess who needs which attention from you. Roughly four segments can be identified:
- Spectators - stakeholders with little influence and little interest in the project: It is up to you to observe whether something is changing or brewing. Better we use our resources for someone else.
- Influential observers - stakeholders with little interest but high influence: We need more attention here, because we don't want them to take action against us. So we will try to keep them happy and confident.
- Active players - stakeholders with little influence but high interest: The high level of interest motivates them to make themselves noticed. We need to keep them well informed and engaged. Not that they infect other stakeholders with dissatisfaction.
- Key players - these are the stakeholders with a high level of influence and interest: We have to look after them well and integrate them strongly into the project. We lead our project with them because we convince them and they support it.
This segmentation of the stakeholders not only helps to have a clear view of the goals for communication, but also to look for the right communication channels or media. Of course you can establish a project website or a newsletter. But that's not the way to move anyone. These media can transport information, but not much more. The more influential and interested a stakeholder is, the more individual the channels have to be. In the middle area I can prepare individual mails, but also organize events. On the way to the top right, there should be small meetings and workshops. I will hold personal discussions with the key players, depending on what suits the individual stakeholder.