Today, we will discuss stakeholder mapping.

A map is a visual representation that shows patterns and connections. Remember back to your school days; you were either told to draw the map on paper or find the right places.

In project management, we need to map stakeholders to group them for proper analysis. Afterward, the project team can begin the journey of engagement or management. 

Without stakeholder mapping, you cannot categorize, and you may not analyze your stakeholders well.  

Stakeholder Mapping

Stakeholder mapping categorizes stakeholders based on their influence, interest, power, urgency, legitimacy, and more.

You can use the following techniques in stakeholders mapping:

  • Power/Influence/Interest Grid
  • Salience Model
  • Direction of Influence
  • Stakeholder Cube

Power/Influence/Interest Grid

This is the most popular method. It helps you categorize a vast number of stakeholders.

Developing a strategy for a large body of stakeholders may be difficult, so you group them according to their requirements/expectations, power, interest, or influence. You can then plan your engagement strategy to manage these groups. 

Let’s quickly define the parameters.


This is the authority stakeholders have over the project. You can also define it as an ability to influence the work. 

The project management team would see how this power can support the project.


This attribute is closely related to power. Here, the stakeholders can affect project outcomes. 


This is the stakeholders’ level of concern about the project or their desire to be involved. Understanding stakeholder needs and their level of interest is critical to creating a management plan.

Now, you understand these attributes, let’s discuss the power/interest grid model.

Power and Interest Grid

Here you plot power on the vertical axis, and the level of interest is on the horizontal axis. 

power interest grid in stakeholder mapping

There can be four possibilities:

  1. High power, high interest: These are stakeholders marked B and E in the diagram above.
  2. High power, low interest: These are marked F in the diagram above.
  3. Low power, high interest: G falls in this category.
  4. Low power, low interest: This comprises stakeholders A, C, and D.

The position held by stakeholders determines the management strategy. 

You cannot give the same attention to all stakeholders. The power and interest grid map them so you can classify and manage them according to their requirements.

The diagram below gives the recommended actions for all four possibilities.

power interest grid stakeholder mapping

Power and Influence Grid

Here, you group stakeholders according to their power and influence over the project. This model is not as popular as the power and interest grid because of the resemblance of Power and Influence.

Influence and Impact Grid

For this method, you classify stakeholders based on their influence and impact on the project.

You can group the stakeholders as follows: high-influence or low-influence, high-impact or low-impact.

Salience Model

This stakeholder mapping model uses three parameters to group stakeholders. The parameters are power, urgency, and legitimacy.

Power: the stakeholder’s ability to influence the outcome of deliverable, project, or organization.

Urgency: the stakeholder’s expectation for quick responses to their needs or requests.

Legitimacy: the stakeholder’s right to be involved. This is also the relationship of the stakeholder to the firm.

Salience is defined as the degree to which project managers give priority to the stakeholders. The more attributes (power, urgency, and legitimacy) a stakeholder is perceived to have, the higher their salience (from a manager’s perspective).

salience model for stakeholder mapping 1

This gives us seven possibilities, namely:

image 1

Implications of Behavior

Latent stakeholders have the power of imposition, but they may not get the attention they expect because they lack legitimacy. 

Demanding stakeholders have urgent claims but without power or legitimacy. However, they can influence other stakeholders. They should be managed carefully. 

Examples include serial complainers and unjustified grudges.

Discretionary stakeholders have an established relationship with the managers but no power or urgency, like charity beneficiaries and NGOs. You will fulfill their needs because of legitimacy, but they are not normally given priority.

Dangerous stakeholders have both power and a sense of urgency. They can be violent and cause trouble for your project if not properly managed, though they do not have legitimacy. Examples include local vandals in remote areas.

Dominant stakeholders have power and legitimacy but do not have a sense of urgency. An example would be local authorities during a construction project.

Dependent stakeholders possess legitimacy and urgency but lack the authority or power to enforce or coerce. Manage them carefully. They can gain power by grouping with powerful stakeholders. Examples include local residents in a community construction project.

Core or Definitive stakeholders exhibit all three attributes. They have the authority, rights, and needs; they should be given the highest priority.

Direction of Influence

As shown in the figure below, we can group stakeholders according to their direction of influence in four different ways.

direction of influence in stakeholder mapping

Upward Stakeholders: These are high-level executives. As shown in the diagram above, the project sponsor is a typical example. Other examples are the management of the performing organizations, STEERCO (project steering committees), and customer organizations. 

Downward Stakeholders: They are below the project manager in terms of authority. An example would be project team members.

Sideward Stakeholders: These stakeholders are at the same level as the project manager. A good, informal relationship can get things done with them. They can also help garner support for the project.

Outward Relationships: These are external relationships of the performing organization. Examples include vendors, suppliers, end-users (for an external product), regulators, and civil defense groups.

Stakeholder Cube

Again, we look at a three-dimensional stakeholder representation other than the salient model. 

The stakeholder cube considers: 

Attitude: This is the disposition of the stakeholder for or against the project. Are they a backer or blocker?

Power: This is the authority to influence the project outcome.

Interest: This is the expectation or involvement in the project. Here, you will distinguish interest from attitude. Granted, a stakeholder may be interested in the project, but what is their motive? Positive interest creates a project backer, while negative interest can lead to a blocker.

Some stakeholders may be interested in the project in order to block its success. 

The stakeholder cube captures eight possibilities, as shown in the figure below.

stakeholder cube in stakeholder mapping

The diagram above is elucidated in the table below. Note that plus sign (+) indicates high while minus sign (-) indicates low.

image 2

The influential passive blockers are time bombs. They have power, and you don’t want them to use it against your project. You need to understand these stakeholders to defuse them before the bomb goes off.

Influential active blockers are saboteurs. Your goal should be to disengage from the project.

Insignificant passive blockers are like a tripwire.

Insignificant active backers are friends of the project

Influential active backers are beyond friends; they are saviors, have the power to rescue or salvage a situation.

Insignificant passive backers are acquaintances; they are aware of the project, are not against it but have not shown much commitment. They are lighter than friends of the project.

Influential passive backers are like sleeping giants; they are assets only if they gain interest in the project. For some reason, they do not want to be seen as committed, perhaps because of their public status.

Insignificant active blockers are an irritant; their interest is not for project success.

The stakeholder cube is a very interesting way of mapping and is a tool to be deployed when strategizing how to manage stakeholders.

The last aspect of stakeholder mapping is prioritization. This is a key aspect, as you have projects sometimes with a very large number of people to consider. For example, your company is building a new business model that will impact 600 administrative-level employees. 

You cannot capture all 600 persons in the stakeholder register. You can quickly use the power and impact grid to categorize and manage them. For low-impact/high-interest stakeholders, you simply keep them informed.


Stakeholder mapping is an important process that aids you in stakeholder analysis. Though you have many choices, the power/interest model is the most popular. Once you map stakeholders, you group them and develop strategies to manage your stakeholders.

What stakeholder mapping technique have you used? Please share in the comments section.