Is it time to rethink that power/interest stakeholder model?

That power/interest model has served us well, but I think its time to move on. What I don't like about this traditional model of stakeholder analysis is that those who are perceived to be without power end up being seen as less important. I question the ethics of this, but also caution that its pretty dangerous ! Understanding who has the power is no longer so clear cut.

Stakeholder engagement is a big thing in project communication - which is one of my main areas of interest.  It is widely acknowledged that a successful project needs well managed and effective stakeholder relationships, but sitting down with a blank sheet of paper and attempting to understand the stakeholder landscape is a daunting task.  Turning that piece of paper into a tangible and sustainable relationship that benefits the project, and the organization, is harder still.

Many projects and programmes adopt the power-interest matrix in an attempt to codify and order the process for identifying stakeholders; yet this approach privileges a certain type of stakeholder at the expense of many others who are needed to make the project successful.

I got together with Lou Horton who is a change manager in central government to come up with a new approach.  We argue that for change projects, its not the combination of power and influence that should determine a stakeholder’s worth,  but rather that person’s role in the organisation. Engaging stakeholders in this way provides increased opportunities for sustainable change and benefits realisation.  I talk about this in my book Communicating Projects and Lou and I expand on the idea in PM World Journal.

Be great to hear views on this - does the power/ interest model work for you or do you agree that it is time for some fresh thinking?

comments powered by Disqus

About the author

Ann Pilkington

Ann is a co-founder of PR Academy, a leading provider of public relations and communication education.  Her special areas of interest are internal communication and project communication.

Ann leads PR Academy’s CIPR internal comms certificate.


Study this topic...

Become a highly effective, strategic internal communication practitioner with these internal communications courses.
Access resources for students and professionals
Read the latest research reports and how-to guides
Join a community of academics, students and professionals