Influence: getting them to melt in your hands

5 Steps to Influence Mapping

Influence: getting them to melt in your handsPart 2 of 4:

As Walmart’s move to sustainability illustrates, when you scratch below the surface of most institutional change, there’s usually a handful of relationships that play a disproportionately large role in bringing those changes about. That’s part of the reason it’s hard to truly separate institutional change from personal change.

Each of us depends on our ability to create change, and quite often that change is happening within an institutional context.

Imagine how effective you’d be in your organizational change efforts if, before you even lifted a finger, you could consult a magic map that looked into the future and laid out exactly how the key decisions that affect your goals were going to be made. This magical, mystical map would tell you who the key decision makers were, who influenced them, and who you knew who could help you get to those influencers.

Wouldn’t a map like that make your change efforts much easier?

Of course, but most of us haven’t quite mastered time travel so what we do instead is project our best guesses at what the flow of decision making and its influences will look like in the future.

This process by either “influence mapping” or “power mapping” and here’s a quick look at how this incredibly important tool for influencing change works. There are five steps:

  1. Articulate your desired outcome.
  2. Identify the decisions that lead to this outcome and the decision makers who make them.
  3. Map all the people who influence these decision makers on this particular issue. Include people who support your outcome, oppose it, as well as those who are neutral on it.
  4. Prioritize this list of influencers based on a composite of their importance and your ease of reaching them.
  5. Follow their social networks until you connect with people who you believe will be willing to advocate for your desired outcome.

The result of this exercise is an influence map that you can use in lots of different ways, though the end goal is always getting the people you know to network into positions of influence with decision makers in order to help you achieve your desired outcome.

Lots of related ideas at The Vital Edge.


Up next…(June 22) Part 3 of 4 - Influence: the Flip Side of Permeability

Part 1:   Change Happens Through People – Even at Walmart
Part 2:   5 Steps to Influence Mapping
Part 3:   Influence: the Flip Side of Permeability (June 22)
Part 4:   How to Strengthen Your Organization’s Influence Mapping (June 24)