When we talk about change and projects, we sometimes will create a stakeholder map. Map is a bit of stretch as it’s usually a box with power on one axis (or line) and interest on the other. The box is cut into four boxes – moniter, keep informed, manage closely, and keep satisfied (starting bottom left and going counterclockwise). The idea is to identify (map) people who have some sort of interest in or can influence your project – both positively and negatively. We are seeking a successful outcome for our project so we need to identify those who can influence this.
This makes sense. It’s good project management.
And yet we often think only of the short term. We think about our project, the change we seek to make, and not much beyond that. Or we think it will all be wonderful after the change is implemented. And sometimes it is. But rarely for everyone. We use our stakeholder maps for us, for our purpose and we think about them only from our perspective. And they only tend to include the people with the power to influence the project. It is more of a power & influence map, not a stakeholder map. A true stakeholder map would include all those affected or impacted by the project.
Perhaps if we had both maps we’d better be able to answer questions about impact – including harm. Perhaps, too, we could truly ask ‘And then what?’ Not in the sense of what we need to do, but rather what might happen. And not just now or during the life of the project, but also 7 months from now, 7 years, 7 decades. And also we might get beyond thinking of ourselves, but also of others – other people, other processes, other systems, and so on.
Consequences or the impact of the change we seek is often small in short term, especially wihin the system or team or organisation we are creating it in. When we add stakeholders and time, the consequences and impact grows exponentially. In both good and harmful ways.
it’s time to ask so different questions.