Proximity and saliency model for stakeholder analysis

One of the most important parts of being a change agent is identifying and managing your stakeholders. We talked about identifying stakeholders in a previous blog. You can see the possible stakeholders in the image below. There are many more depending on your environment. 

possible stakeholders

When you know who your stakeholders are you can analyze and manage them. In a previous blog we looked at the power/interest grid, RAACI and a stakeholder table. Today we will look at the proximity model and the saliency model. Both models are very visual, which also makes them great for communication as well.

Proximity model

Proximity model for stakeholder management

There are four quadrants where you can plot your stakeholders: opposers, bystanders, supporters and undecideds. Opposers and supporters are both active roles. These people will influence your project with their opinion. The bystanders may have a positive, neutral or negative opinion about your project but do not care enough or have enough power to exert influence over your project. The undecideds are just that. They do not yet know how they feel about your project. Having a lot of undecideds at the beginning is not a bad thing, but having them at the end is very strange. If you do not know where someone fits put them to the side for know and try to get extra information. 

There are four circles where you can plot your stakeholders: directly involved, routinely involved, regular contact and relatively remote. When you look at the picture you can see how connected you are to your stakeholders. If a lot of people are in the circle or relatively remote you need to see whether that is what you want. If it is you can adapt your communication strategy to that. If not you need to influence your stakeholders to come closer. 

By plotting your stakeholders in both the quadrants and the circles you can see where everyone stands with regards to your project. This way you can strategize about who you want to move from one quadrant to the next, who you want to move a circle closer or further away and what communication and approach is needed to achieve this. 

Saliency model

Saliency model for stakeholder management

This model is a venn diagram with three circles:

  • Power: The stakeholder has the mandate to influence your budget, planning, progress or assignment. They may be your manager, board of directors, teammanagement or another department with the power to influence either of these things. 
  •  Legitimacy: How appropriate is the stakeholder’s involvement in the project? A lot of people will have opinions about your project, but not everybody's opinion is as important. If someone is not a decision maker, supplier, future user or customer you need to wonder about the legitimacy of involvement of this stakeholder.
  •  Urgency: How quickly should the stakeholder’s needs be addressed? This can depend on their influence in the rest of the organization or on your project and project members.

As you can see in the picture you can plot your stakeholders in the venn diagram. This delivers seven types of stakeholders:

  1. Discretionary category: Legitimate stakeholders but do not have urgency or power. You can decide how to deal with this group in communication and involvement. There is not much pressure here. 
  2. Dormant category: Has high power but no legitimacy or urgency. These people may serve as sponsors, but since there is no legitimacy you do not need to spend very much time on them. 
  3. Demanding category: Has neither power nor do they have legitimacy but want their concerns or needs to be addressed urgently. This a group you need to be aware of. They can become very disruptive. 
  4. Dominant category: Has both formal power and legitimacy but not urgency. You need to manage this group actively in order to avoid surprises. 
  5. Dangerous category: Have both power and urgency but no legitimacy. This may mean that they are influenced by the end product, but have not been freed up to help in the project. If you spring the end result on them your project may very well fail. 
  6. Dependent Category: Has urgency and legitimacy, but no power. They will want a say and may use more powerful stakeholders to do so. 
  7. Definitive category: Have all three factors and hence highest salience. Key members of the team. 

At times people will add an eight category for non stakeholders. With each group you need to think about communication and involvement of the group in the project in order to stay effective.

Stakeholder management

You can decide on how to manage your stakeholders by using the RACI model. One important part of stakeholder management is to keep your analysis up to date. Usually you will make a stakeholder analysis at the beginning of the project. During the project stakeholder positions will move. So it is a good idea to keep updating your analysis periodically. 


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