Stakeholder map

Determine who needs what, when, and to what detail
The Stakeholder Map has two axes each from low to high: Influence on the horizontal and Interest on the vertical, which makes four quarters from low interest/low influence to high interest/high influence, with names of individuals inserted appropriately.
<p>A graphic illustration of a fictional Stakeholder Map.</p><p>The Stakeholder map has a vertical and a horizontal axis dividing the page into 4 quarters. The vertical axis is titled “Interest” and the top of the axis is labelled “High interest” and the bottom of the axis is labelled “Low interest”. The horizontal axis is titled “Influence” and the left of the axis is labelled “Low influence” and the right of the axis is labelled “High influence”.</p><p>In each quarter there are cards with people’s names on them.</p>


  1. High interest but low influence. This is your Regular face-to-face communication zone. These people need detailed information, but are not influential enough to warrant it at high frequency. Schedule regular face-to-face meetings, but look for opportunities to gather several of your stakeholders from this quadrant together for a workstream/project update meeting.
  2. High influence and high interest! People in this zone need to be individually managed. These are the people for whom you should take the time to ensure that they have everything they need. Think detailed information and updates delivered personally.
  3. High influence but low interest. This is the Frequent overview zone. These are people who should be kept informed because of their influence, but who aren’t likely to require or want regular one-on-one time. Try for regular, personalised, email updates, but keep it high-level so you don’t waste their time.
  4. Low influence and low interest. It’s easy to neglect this quadrant and run into trouble. Consider a semi-regular, high-level email update that includes a genuine offer to provide more information if necessary. Those interested will self-identify into the upper-left quadrant (regular face- to-face communication zone)!
  5. Stakeholders: People who have a “stake” or interest in your project.
  6. Influence axis: A measure of the influence a stakeholder has on your work or project.
  7. Interest axis: A measure of the interest a stakeholder has in your work or project.

What it is

A Stakeholder Map helps teams to communicate effectively with their stakeholder group on a project or a piece of work. It is a visual way of determining who needs what, how often, and in how much detail.

Communication with stakeholders can often end up being a scramble—whoever is shouting the loudest gets the most attention—and it is easy to miss political and collaborative opportunities as a result. Using a Stakeholder Map, the team ensures that their stakeholders are kept up to date with the right information in line with their needs, and in the most effective way possible.

When to use it

  • Use a Stakeholder Map when you are starting up a new team or project.
  • Use a Stakeholder Map when you’re having problems with your stakeholders (i.e., you know your current stakeholder management sucks) and you want to fix it.

How to use it

  1. Draw horizontal and vertical axes on a whiteboard or a sheet of paper.
  2. Label the horizontal axis from “Low Influence” (left) to “High influence” (right); then label the vertical axis from “Low interest” (bottom) to “High interest” (top).
  3. Using a post-it note or index card (so you can move it later), label it with your first stakeholder, then place the card at the appropriate point along the Influence axis. Now move the card up or down depending upon how interested they are in your work.
  4. Repeat for all your stakeholders.
  5. As you add more stakeholders to the map, sense check against the stakeholders already there and reposition your cards as necessary.
  6. Once you have done your first cut, review each quadrant: does anyone appear to be in the wrong place?
  7. Shape your comms plans, meeting schedules, and face-to-face time accordingly!

Rules for use

  • Stakeholders or teams can only appear once on the map.
  • Use one map per project or work stream.


  • Not everyone is a stakeholder. Add only those people who are actual stakeholders in your work. You aren’t trying to map everyone on Earth!

Tips & tricks

  • Not everyone has to feature individually on the map. Look for opportunities to include a group or a team as a single stakeholder.
  • Watch out for the surprisingly influential. There are often people who, despite no formal mandate or channel, have significant influence on the outcome of a project. Where this influence is coupled with high levels of interest, it should be managed very carefully.
  • Can’t think of your stakeholders? Some common questions to help identify them include:
    • Who is paying for the work?
    • Who will use the outputs of the work?
    • Who supports the team?
    • With whom are the team in regular contact?
    • Who has dependencies on the team?
  • Watch out for political sensitivities. Sometimes a map can be helpful to the team, but politically sensitive if shared more widely. Be sensible and try to avoid ruffling feathers.
  • Use post-it notes or a virtual board so it is easy to update your Stakeholder Map as the landscape around your project changes.
  • Having difficulty judging influence level? Ask yourself which is more true: They could easily impact our work (high influence) or, they would need the support of someone more influential to impact our work (low influence).
  • Having difficulty judging interest level? Ask yourself which is more true: They would be interested and ask detailed questions if we changed our approach (high interest), or, they’re unlikely to ask questions about our changed approach (low interest).

Common issues

  • Assuming same people = same map. It’s easy to assume that you can just copy and paste a Stakeholder Map from one project to another if the people are the same or similar, but this approach usually turns out badly. Always start from scratch! If you don’t, then you are likely to miss someone important or expend unnecessary effort keeping someone no longer vital informed.
  • Static map. Stakeholder Maps are commonly done at the start of a project or team, but if they aren’t updated as the landscape around the team or project changes, then they quickly become useless. Revisit your map regularly.
  • Informal influence. Influence doesn’t just occur in official channels. If your Chief Architect is a close family friend of your CFO, then reflect this in your map either by increasing the interest level of your CFO, or by increasing the influence level of your Architect, or both!
  • Informal interest. Don’t assume that a person’s role matches their interest and don’t get caught out assuming that everyone sticks to their job-descriptions. Many don’t.

Related methods

  • RACI: clarify who should be involved.