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About stakeholder maps

22. November 2017

About stakeholder maps

A stakeholder map visualizes the ecosystem in which a product or service operates from a specific perspective. Here is a quick overview on how to create and analyze a stakeholder map.

What is a stakeholder?

A stakeholder is a person, organization or aspect that has a certain interest in or relationship to a specific topic or business. For example, the customer or an employee could be a stakeholder, but also government and service providers, or even something like a digital platform or device.

What is a stakeholder map?

Stakeholder maps help you understand the ecosystem of your product or service. Customers interact with many internal and external stakeholders during their journey: they use different products or services, various devices and platforms, communicate with diverse departments through different channels.

A stakeholder map is a visual representation of this ecosystem of stakeholders involved in a customer experience. It helps to understand who is involved, to reveal existing formal and informal relationships between stakeholders, to identify frictions between them, and to find new business opportunities by establishing new relationships, fostering existing ones, or creating alternatives.

For details on the difference of stakeholder maps, value network maps and ecosystem maps, have a look at this slide deck.

How can you use this in your organization?

Stakeholder maps can be used to understand who is involved in a project or organization, and how these people, organizations and aspects are connected.

Stakeholder maps provide four different types of value.

1. Zoom In and Focus:
You could use the tool to evaluate your competitors from your customer’s perspective. Or you could illustrate who the external stakeholders are that influence your business.

2. Zoom Out
Depending on how you use them, stakeholder maps can also help you to zoom out and see who might need to include, or what opportunities or risks you might have overlooked.

3. Designing Resilient Systems, products or services
With a stakeholder map you can easily identify relationships or partnerships that could be formed so that your organization leverages several parts of a system and does not rely just on one.

4. Communicate
Lastly, it can help you communicate to your team and other stakeholders complex information, problems or systems.

Characteristics of a stakeholder map

The Smaply stakeholder map editor

Stakeholders (including personas)

The main actors in your system can be freely arranged on this large circular map. Their position depends on what you want to visualize, but usually your customer should be in the centre — at least if you try to be a customer-centred organization.

Categorize in circles

Categorize your stakeholder by using three circles on your map. According to your project, this could be for example: essential/important/interesting or internal/external directly/external indirectly. Use whatever makes sense to structure your ecosystem. After placing your stakeholders on the map, check if they are currently on the position where you really want to have them, or if you need to to adjust your processes and service in order to move them to another field. E.g., is your customer really the most essential and central part of your service development, or do you need to shift your development focus to become more customer-centred?


Stakeholders have certain relationships with each other. In many cases, a transaction or value exchange takes place between them. Use the stakeholder map to illustrate these relations. This will help you to see what stakeholders are connected, and to discover lacks or synergies. For example, if the same transaction happens twice e.g., filling out a form with the same information. Or if some transaction is missing e.g., forwarding information with some department that would need it.

In the end it’s crucial to discuss the stakeholder map with your team and maybe even invite some of the stakeholders to see if your map really reflects the status quo.

Get your cheat sheet on stakeholder maps to put on your desk as a reminder.

Katharina takes care of marketing and communications at More than Metrics. With her background in business and psychology she loves both logical as well as empathic thinking.
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