Category: Change Management

Empathy Mapping

Recently at work I’ve been progressing at a full on pace with a programme and multiple projects, some of which I’m involved in, some of which I just need to be involved enough in to keep up with what’s going on.

Success (if that can ever be truly measured…) depends on a whole crate of plates being spun; a whole flock of ducks being lined up; way too many flags being flown up a multitude of expectant flagpoles, and an enormous field full of tents being pitched… the mind boggles.

And to get through the boggling, I have been doing lots of stakeholder analysis. Quite frankly, it’s not a job I enjoy. So far I have a list of over 130 named stakeholders and ten or so email circulation lists which I need in order to communicate effectively [anyone who has been following my #noemail series of posts will recognise the sarcasm and deep irony I’m holding in that last sentence].

Every time something shifts in the cosmos with a stakeholder I have a pang of anxiety that I probably need to update my Stakeholder Analysis tool. It’s important for me not to treat it as a diversion or procrastination, so I make sure I’m not in there more than once every few weeks, otherwise it gets overwhelming. The intent is for a check in only, once in a while. There’s an element of self management going on there though!


I say I don’t enjoy it, but I have to admit how useful it has been. I’m not just putting people in boxes like the diagram above, but also rating how my relationship is with that individual or group at the current time. This points to what action I need to take and is useful in highlighting trends and issues with particular communities of people.

I notice I’m more resistant to talking to some people I know less well and feel less confident with and so the exercise is a good prompt for me to pick up the phone, drop by someone’s office for a face to face or arrange a meeting. So something that recently helped was when a colleague pointed me toward the idea of Empathy Mapping.

Empathy Mapping takes the process of Stakeholder Analysis even further and more helpfully gets me into the mindset of the people I’m trying to work with or ‘get on board’ [the bus, or the boat, or the flock of seagulls or whatever…].

I haven’t Empathy Mapped all 130 people I’m working with, but where I don’t know someone too well, the process has opened up new thinking for me and helped me prepare for phone calls, communications and meetings. In essence this is prompting me to think about what someone else is Thinking, Feeling, Seeing, Hearing and Saying in relation to the work I’m doing. It’s a more humanistic approach the stakeholder analysis… and I like it.