Developing an influence strategy is a key factor in determining success or failure of a change initiative. Your innovative idea will change something. Determine the key constituents this change affects and mobilize strategies to mitigate threats and capitalize on opportunities. Porter’s Five Forces is an excellent method to achieve this.
Key factors in developing these strategies include,
- Identify the key areas and stakeholders your change may impact
- Analyze all sources of issues and concerns (there will be some conflicts with every concept).
- Analyze key stakeholders as promoters or detractors to your initiative, and develop strategies to improve stakeholder position.
- Use problem solving processes to build commitment
- Convert promoting stakeholders to advocates for your initiative
Identifying Key Areas & Stakeholders of Influence
After defining your project, determine the individuals who have influence within the impacted area of your initiative. In addition, influence may be positive or negative. Therefore, it is important to identify both areas when developing an influence strategy. A useful tool for this is to utilize a Stakeholder Influence Map.
A stakeholder influence map identifies stakeholders who will be impacted by or can impact the success of your initiative. This is developed by identifying every group or stakeholder, and evenly allocating 100 points all. The highest points indicates the most influence, or ability to impact the area. The lowest points indicates the least amount of influence. See the below examples,
This chart identifies people as the key constituents, with D. Kissick having the most influence and K. Helton with the least.
This chart identifies business functions as the key constituents, with Business Development having the most influence and Purchasing with the least.
This tool is an excellent start to beginning targeted discussions and prioritizing stakeholders. Next, determine roles and responsibilities to pull the full team together.
Identifying Sources of Resistance
Resistance may be many places and forms. It’s important to proactively identify and develop mitigation strategies for various forms of conflict, issues, and concerns.
An effective tool to identify and organize areas of conflict/resistance is the Fishbone Diagram, as the diagram is already organized to include many forms of resistance. See resource on the Fishbone Diagram.
As seen in the above fishbone diagram, resistance may come in common forms including: environment, tools, people, materials, methods, and measurements.
Analyzing Key Stakeholders
After identifying your key stakeholders, it is important to know if they would be promoters or detractors of your initiative. Part of knowing this is through attitude charting. There are many methods to complete this, and two are illustrated here: The Adopter Curve and a Stakeholder Analysis.
This adopter curve illustrates how how forward thinking each of your stakeholders are, but can be quite trivial to complete because we don’t always know the inner thought processes.
A stakeholder analysis begins by listing all of the people listed in your stakeholder influence map. The goal is to gather information to determine if this person is: strongly against, moderately against, neutral, moderately supportive, or strongly supportive. Next, identify where this person needs to be for your program to be successful. Then develop strategies to achieve the new goal. For stakeholders identified as strong supporters, make them advocates for your innovative proposal and influence others on your behalf. See below for an example Stakeholder Analysis,
In the above example, an ‘X’ signifies how this person supports your initiative. The circle/arrow indicate where this person needs to be (Develop a plan to close the gap). For supportive stakeholders, identify relationships between others such that these individuals become advocates in influencing others.
Building an Influence Strategy
A strong influence strategy clearly defines a stakeholders, works to their strengths, interests, and/or personality, and answers the WIIFM. WIIFM stands for “What’s In It For Me?” Gather data around your stakeholders and complete the below table for each person. Data can be obtained from current knowledge, published information, interviews with peers, interviews with subordinates, and interviews directly with the person. Utilize identifying decision support opportunities to identify opportunities within an area of the person you are trying to influence.
|Stakeholder Name||Issues & Concerns||Influence Strategy|
Complete the above table to engage and retain strong supporters, or even better, increase their influence within your program’ success. To deliver quick wins, improve a process by attacking the low-hanging fruit, or easy opportunities, through eliminating the 8 wastes.
Pitfalls to Embedding a Sustainable Innovation Influence Strategy
- Failure to recognize human factors and emotional aspects
- Assuming a technical solution is enough
- Improperly scoping the project/initiative
- Not sharing the win with the full team and stakeholders
- Failure to recognize political aspects of launching new initiatives
- Failure to not involve stakeholders in the decision making process and improperly identifying stakeholders and their field of influence.