Our stakeholder impact assessment builds on the stakeholder list we developed earlier in the process. If we have involved stakeholders throughout at this point we will likely have enough knowledge to do a deeper impact analysis. If not, now is the most appropriate time to prepare our initial stakeholder list and start connecting with stakeholders (For more on this, see Section 2: Laying our foundation for successful change/Stakeholders and change).
One of the best ways to test our assumptions of the impact of the change on each stakeholder is to discuss the impacts directly with them. As much as we may have knowledge about who our stakeholders are, looking at the impact the change will have gives us a much better appreciation of what the change really entails from their perspective. Avoiding a deep analysis of stakeholders will likely result in an unsuccessful change process.
How can we better understand our stakeholders?
Segmenting our stakeholders
No matter the complexity of the change, segmenting our stakeholders can help us better understand how to engage with key players effectively. Especially in cases where the change is urgent, doing this step now will go a long way in how we interact with them and will in all likelihood greatly influence the success of our change initiative.
With segmentation, essentially we are creating groupings of individuals and/or groups that share common characteristics (e.g., by functional area, by directorate/sector/branch, by interest area, by type of industry).
To help us segment our stakeholder groupings and determine the impact of the change, we can ask the following questions:
- Who does this change affect directly or indirectly? (*Note: this question may have already been asked when were first looked at our stakeholders, but it can be worth revisiting here)
- Who wants to achieve the same end?
- Who would have the most interest in these issues?
- Who are the influencers? Who could help facilitate the decision?
- Who is likely to have concerns about the change?
- How will they be affected? What are their potential interests and concerns?
- What is the larger issue we all care about?
- What is the central question/issue for the engagement process?
Analyzing our stakeholders
If we’ve got our stakeholders segmented, we can do an analysis to help us prioritize our engagement activities. We can start by asking ourselves questions about our stakeholders. We can ask the following:
- Is our stakeholder supportive/neutral/resistant?
- What are their support points? (i.e., which aspects of the change do they support)
- What are their resistance points? (i.e., which aspects of the change do they have concerns about)
- What is their level of influence over the process/outcome of the change?
- What is their level of interest in the change?
- What actions should we take in order to keep our change on a successful path?
We can put our answers in a table to keep our list organized.
|Supporter / neutral / has concerns
|Level of influence
|Level of interest
|Actions to engage stakeholder
Analyzing the impact of the change on our stakeholders
At this point we have done a fairly robust analysis of our stakeholders and are able to use this to better understand how they will be impacted. We also likely have discovered how looking at their situation in relation to the change might shed a new light on our previous understanding of who they are.
We can use a number of different approaches to analyzing the impact (e.g, Prosci’s stakeholder impact assessment, McKinsey’s 7S Framework). If we used the McKinsey 7S lens to analyze the organizational impact, we can complement this with our stakeholder impact analysis, as appropriate.
|Actions to take
Stakeholders needs, concerns, and impacts are likely to shift over time. It’s important that we revisit them throughout the process.
At this point we have a good understanding of our change and the impact on our organization and stakeholders and we can assess our risks.