We all have business ideas we want others to buy into—whether it’s a new project, a new product or a new way of doing business. But how do we get others to buy into our ideas, to work with us? Simon Dowling provides the answer in his new book, Work With Me—How To Get People To Buy Into Your Ideas.
In the chapter, “Who: Think Wide, Act Narrow”, the Melbourne-based writer, who has a hit comedy TV show, Thank God You’re Here, to his credit, says social mapping can help you identify the people who matter most to getting your idea off the ground. Edited excerpts:
If you’re going to navigate the social landscape successfully, then it can be helpful to create a social map. Social mapping is a simple technique you can use to zero in on the people who matter most to getting your idea off the ground. These are your stakeholders, a term that describes anyone who is likely to impact or be impacted by a decision.
Unlike the traditional organizational chart, a social map doesn’t show reporting lines and hierarchy. Nor is a social map a generic map of relationships across the organization. Rather, it’s a map that you create in the context of thinking about a specific idea or proposal for which you’re looking to generate buy-in.
Social mapping allows you to identify all of the stakeholders relevant to turning your idea into a reality; assess each stakeholder’s role, their attitude towards your idea and how they fit into the social landscape.
One of the important steps to creating a social map is identifying your stakeholders. Consider the following four categories of stakeholders:
This is the person who makes the ultimate decision that determines whether or not your idea actually gets off the ground. It’s rare that there would be more than one person in this category. Unless the decision is being made by some kind of committee or panel, coming up with multiple people and names here suggests there’s some confusion about who actually makes the crucial decisions.
These are the people whose views may—or should—influence the decision maker, directly or indirectly. This has nothing to do with rank and could even include people outside the organisation, such as technical experts and advisers.
These people are instrumental in determining how an idea or project will be implemented. That might be the managers of teams responsible for bringing an idea to life, or it could be a whole group of operational people whose cooperation will be vital to the success of the initiative—people such as technical designers, account managers, engineers and frontline staff.
This last category refers to all those stakeholders who might expect a role, or expect to be informed or involved in some way, even though they don’t have any formal involvement. Think of it like a mystery box that could spring open at any time (which is why you’re trying to anticipate them now, before they surprise you). If you haven’t already identified them in the other categories, consider stakeholders such as senior executives, employee unions, the in-house legal team, key customers or suppliers who may be affected by the project, and so on.