How to avoid the most common mistake in change management

If no one is using the new process, system or if people don’t want to be part of the (de-)merger, then you have achieved the project goal without realising its ROI. Excellent change management ensures that the solution that your project is implementing is adapted and used.

One of the most common mistakes in change management is poor or non-existing stakeholder mapping. A complete and prioritised stakeholder map is the key input for mapping the change impact, the issues and drawing up an engagement or communications plan.


Today I will be sharing a practical way to approach this mammoth task. I promise you, you will thank me when you got a good grip as to whom to invite to your structured brainstorming session where you map your stakeholder’s issues. A complete and prioritised stakeholder map makes it also much easier to plan your engagement and communication.


So, what is the best way to skin this cat?

Let’s break down mapping your stakeholders into a simple hands-on process:

#1 Grab a template for example in excel and start listing your stakeholders in the following 4 buckets. In this step it is important not to be selective.

Project Team: Ask yourself who is involved in this project? This involves project and programme manager, change manager, specialists, trainer, super users and more.

Internal: Who has invested interest in this project internally and could be impacted? These are typically users, operations, HR, finance, sales, marketing or procurement employees.

Leadership: Who has invested interest in this project and is likely to have high influence? Here you list all your sponsors, the C-level, line leaders etc.

External: Who externally has invested interest in this project, such as the customers, industry and lobby, competition and so forth.

#2 Invite a handful of stakeholders per bucket to a meeting and run a structured brainstorming session to identify all missing stakeholders hiding in your blind spot. A session like this is also a great way to win change ambassadors and uncover the real gold.

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#3 Prioritise your stakeholder list by assigning an importance score from 1-4. This allows you to easily filter and sort your list.

1 equals the key important stakeholders – these have the highest interest in your project success and have the most influence. These need to be given special attention when understanding the issues and communicating the change.

2 equals the ones their needs need to be met – these stakeholders have a very high influence but a lower amount of interest. Usually this is a group with high change impact, e.g. users. They are key for good adaption of the change. Your aim will be to move them to level 1 by raising their interest.

3 equals the ones you want to show consideration for, as they have a high interest but a lesser amount of influence on the change. You will want to keep these guys consistently informed as their interest in the project makes them good ambassadors.

Lastly 4 are the ones that have the least amount of importance as they rank low on interest and influence. They will receive updates through general information channels.

There you have it, an easy 3-steps process to overcome procrastinating mapping your project stakeholders,

This content is drawn from our half-day change management kick-off workshop. If you would like to engage us to work through mapping your stakeholders, their issues and how to engage them or for a detailed copy of the stakeholder mapping template click here.


Sam is one of the authors of The 6 Cents of Change. He's a father, a CEO, an Engineer, a trainer and a problem-solver. His work impacted Apache, Santos, MMA, and more. In his other life, he loves CrossFit and cricket. 

To learn more about us and the solutions we provide, subscribe to The 6 Cents of Change, follow us on LinkedIn or connect with us here or +61 (08) 610 20 343.

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