Power Interest Grid

Deciding whose interests to serve first when you are working as a manger or leader within an organization can be a tricky choice. Of course you would love to make everyone happy, but sometimes that just isn’t possible. Instead, you have to choose who gets priority and how you are going to deal with them.

Power Interest Grid

There are stakeholders related to every project you work on, and identifying them early on should be one of your first steps. From there, you can use the handy Power Interest Grid to help decide how to deal with each of your relevant stakeholders.

For most organizations, it is pretty simple to figure out who the stakeholders are going to be. When you start working on a project within your division or department, it is a good idea to jot down a quick list of all those who will be someone related to the project you are undertaking. That list can include people like your boss, your team for the project, your customers and suppliers, shareholders in the company, and more. This list will vary wildly depending on the type of work you do and your position within the company, but you probably already have a good idea of who should be on it.

Stakeholders and the Power Interest Grid

So then, how to you prioritize and organize all of these different interests? Try putting the Stakeholder Power Interest Grid to work. The grid is simple in design, with ‘Power’ on the vertical axis and ‘Interest’ on the horizontal axis. Power and Interest in this case can be either classified as ‘Low’ or ‘High’, giving us four potential states for each stakeholder – Low/Low, Low/High/, High/Low, and High/High. Following is a closer look at each of these four positions on the grid, and what they mean for you as a manager.

Low Interest / Low Power

This is the group that you are going to be least concerned with at the present time. While you don’t want to ignore them completely, the fact that they have both low power and a low level of interest means that they are naturally at the bottom of your list.

Low Interest and Low Power

They aren’t going to want to be constantly updated about the status of your project, for example, because they don’t have that much interest in it. At the same time, it wouldn’t be smart for you to spend too much time communicating with them since they hold little power over you or the project itself. The best approach in this case can be called ‘monitoring’. Keep an eye on the members of this group, engage them when necessary, but don’t let them take up too much of your time.

Low Interest / High Power

Anyone with high power within your organization deserves your attention and time, even if they aren’t specifically interested in your project at the moment. This can be a tricky group to deal with, because you want to ensure they are ‘in the loop’ while not getting tired of hearing from you or annoyed by updates on something that just doesn’t concern them at the present time. Your goal here is to balance providing enough information to demonstrate the progress that is being made on the project in question, while at the same time not becoming a nuisance. There is no specific formula for this, unfortunately – it will be up to you to read the situation and act in the manner that you see fit.

High Interest / Low Power

This is a stakeholder that wants to be informed and involved in the project, but just doesn’t have the power to be a top priority. You certainly don’t want to ignore this group, because their high level of interest could make them of use to you at some point along the way. However, you shouldn’t be spending so much time catering to this group that the High Interest / High Power group becomes neglected in some way. Provide as much information as you can about the project to the people that fall into this category in order to satisfy their interest.

High Interest / High Power

This is obviously the group that is going to occupy the bulk of your time and attention. There is one person who is certain to fall into this category – your boss. In order to succeed within almost any organization, you need to impress and satisfy the people that are your superiors, especially those that are directly responsible for your work and the results of your projects. Make sure every stakeholder in this part of the grid is getting exactly what they need to remain happy with the progress that you and your team are making. If the people that fall into the High Interest / High Power category are not happy, it is unlikely that your project will be considered a success no matter what the stakeholders in the other parts of the grid might think.

Decide Strategy Based in the Power Interest Grid

Prioritizing properly is the mark of a good manager and a good leader. Not everyone is going to have the same level of power within a project or organization, and not everyone will have the same level of interest in what you are working on. For this reason, the Power Interest Grid is a valuable tool that just about any manager can use to help keep their thoughts and priorities organized properly. Don’t waste time serving those who have little power in a situation while those with all the power are left waiting.

To put this grid in to action for yourself, start by quickly making a list of the stakeholders that relate to your work. From there, draw the grid out and start to plot where each person or group lands along the grid. Some, like your boss, will be easy to place, while others will take more time and consideration.

Using the Power Interest Grid to Plan Communications

Once you have your grid completed to your satisfaction, consult it regularly to make sure your priorities are in order. Also, make sure to update the grid as needed when things change within the organization. Using the Power Interest Grid is yet another helpful tool leaders can leverage to continue their growth and be as productive and successful as possible.

Key Points

  • The Power/Interest Grid contains four quadrants: high power/high interest, high power/low interest, low power/high interest, and low power/low interest.
  • Each quadrant gives you an indication of the level of stakeholder management that you’ll have to employ and may also influence the type of communication style.
  • This model suggests different ways how to deal with these stakeholders.
  • High power, high interest stakeholders should be closely managed.
  • Stakeholders with high power and low interest should be kept satisfied.
  • Those with low interest and low power shall be only monitored with minimum effort.
  • A stakeholder with low power and high interest in a project should be keep informed.

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