Using the Model
The model uses the three axes of Attitude, Power, and Interest, each running from negative to positive extremes, with a node at each extreme. This yields eight “spheres" (cubes in the original article) with the following names:
Trip Wire: Low Power, Low Interest, Negative Attitude
Time Bomb: High Power, Low Interest, Negative Attitude
Acquaintance: Low Power, Low Interest, Positive Attitude
Sleeping Giant: High Power, Low Interest, Positive Attitude
Irritant: Low Power, High Interest, Negative Attitude
Saboteur: High Power, High Interest, Negative Attitude
Friend: Low Power, High Interest, Positive Attitude
Savior: High Power, High Interest, Positive Attitude
Turning now from analysis to management, each of these “personalities" for your stakeholders can be approached with a separate, special strategy. For example, the Sleeping Giant is a possible source of tremendous support for your project. They have the power and attitude to help; they just need to be “awakened" to the possibilities of benefit that the project offers them. You can see how this analysis helps mold the ways in which you should communicate with the different sets of stakeholders identified here.
The book, Practical Project Risk Management: The ATOM Methodology, by David Hillson and Peter Simon, describes this model in good detail and has a suggested strategy for each of the stakeholder types.
The “Spheres of Influence" version of the model is my own, used to caricature the eight points in their model to help convey the idea more powerfully.
I suggest you use this model during your next stakeholder analysis. After you’ve fully identified the set of stakeholders, put them through this analysis to see where they fit – and develop a separate custom strategy for communications with each of these stakeholders.
Try a particular stakeholder to test the model. You can do this by thinning about risk (particularly the negative side of risk - or threat).
For example, you could imagine the regulatory agencies you need to deal with as a sample stakeholder. Where do they fit in this model and why? Now just repeat that thinking with other stakeholders once you have a handle on how to deal with them.
By using these Spheres of Influence, perhaps you can stop going around in circles with your project stakeholders!