Change within organizations is delivered through people. We can leverage assets and infrastructure to support the change, however, ultimately change is about the reception and execution of behaviors. This is why we need to think about our stakeholders differently. With limited resources and high diversity in the workforce, organizations need to focus their efforts on the measured payout of different stakeholders that will drive change.

In their book ‘Made to Stick’, Chip & Dan Heath share a study done by Donald Kinder, which suggests that “group interest is often a better predictor of political opinions than self-interest”. Kinder further goes on to suggest that when forming an opinion, people ask what’s in it for my group? This is a departure from how communications have been traditionally designed for change.

According to Chip & Dan Heath, focusing the conversation on, “What’s in it for me?”, distances us from tapping into more profound motivation. Keeping this in mind, we suggest that it is important for change leaders to identify stakeholders who can influence and impact groups.

The next logical question is, how do we segment our organization so that we can allocate effort on those who can influence group behavior?

Here is a simple solution: Value-Change grid. The Value-Change Reception grid is a 3×3 matrix that would aid stakeholder segmentation for change. The value portion is divided into three segments of increasing impact of change value to the organization (from bottom to top): performers, influencers, impactors. The Change Reception portion is divided into three segments of increasing level of change reception (from left to right): transitional, optimist, and enthusiast.

Performers: Stakeholders who are good at their functional role.

Influencers: Stakeholders who are active within their departments and contribute on various team initiatives (E.g. committee and workgroups)

Impactors: Stakeholders who are involved in cross-functional projects. These members have strong influence and actively contribute to the strategic direction and implementation. They are not governed by titles.

Transitional: Stakeholders who are unclear about their role and change. They require additional effort, motivation and nudging to move along the grid.

Optimist: Ready for change, but require more information to move along and participate.

Enthusiast: Been ready for change and actively contributing in the change efforts.

Once the grid is complete, it provides a visual representation on who are in the critical group that will help drive change and those who need to be closely managed during the change. The goal should be to have more people that can be leveraged and fewer who are managed during the change. Imagine a tug of war, the right sides are those on the grid that need to be leveraged and the ones on the left are those who need to  be coached, contained or closely managed.

Through segmentation, change leaders can identify opportunities earlier and draft stakeholder engagement plans accordingly. This approach can also be used after a change initiative is completed as a lesson learned exercise to help build change agility. Organizations can customize the definitions of the elements in the grid to be reflective of their environment.


Heath, C., & Heath, D. (2010). Made to stick: why some ideas take hold and others come unstuck. New York: Random House Books.

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