Understanding the Mendelow stakeholder matrix
The Mendelow stakeholder matrix was created in 1991 by Aubrey L. Mendelow as a relatively simple way to manage stakeholders during a project.
The ability to manage stakeholders is critical to the project’s success. However, any project manager will know how complicated it can be to juggle the various competing interests of stakeholders simultaneously.
Since these interests are often contradictory, they can cause conflict, disharmony, and a loss of productivity.
To balance the conflicting priorities of stakeholders, the Mendelow matrix analyzes their attitudes across two key variables:
- Power – defined as the ability of a stakeholder to coerce, induce, or persuade another group to take a specific course of action.
- Interest – or the likelihood that a stakeholder will be motivated to exert their power to have their needs met. Interest can sometimes be more difficult to quantify and is context specific.
The four categories of Mendelow’s matrix
The Mendelow matrix is divided into four categories with stakeholder interest (low to high) on the x-axis and stakeholder power (low to high) on the y-axis.
Let’s take a look at the four combinations below:
- Low priority (low power, low interest) – these are stakeholders with the lowest ability to impact a project and, in any case, are not interested in doing so. There is less of a need to inform or engage with this group but it should be monitored in case circumstances change. These stakeholders are usually local groups, suppliers, or members of the community.
- Keep informed (low power, high interest) – it is important to keep these stakeholders in the loop to ensure there are no concerns that could become major problems later. While this group has low power, a high level of interest means they may lobby a more powerful group to have their needs met. Employees often fall into this category.
- Keep satisfied (high power, low interest) – despite their low interest, these stakeholders need to be kept informed/satisfied for various reasons. They tend to be powerful organizations such as banks, government, law enforcement, insurance companies, and other regulatory bodies.
- Key players (high power, high interest) – these are stakeholders that need to be managed closely to ensure they are fully engaged with the project. They comprise directors, upper management, and investors who are actively involved in decision-making and have the power to terminate a project if dissatisfied.
Mendelow matrix best practices
With the various stakeholder groups identified, project managers can devise tailored plans to better manage communications while endeavoring to keep each satisfied.
Remember that stakeholders may shift between quadrants without warning – particularly if specific needs or conditions are not met.
A project that fails to meet strict environmental standards, for example, may see the government move from the “Keep satisfied” (high power, low interest) to the “Key player” (high power, high interest) if it intends to impose sanctions.
- The Mendelow stakeholder matrix is a framework used to analyze stakeholder attitudes and expectations and their potential impact on business decisions.
- The Mendelow stakeholder matrix analyzes attitudes across two key variables: power and interest. Power is the ability of a stakeholder to influence the actions of others, while interest is defined as the likelihood of using that power.
- Mendelow’s matrix illustrates varying degrees of power and interest in quadrants that represent different stakeholder groups. These groups are low priority, keep informed, keep satisfied, and key players.
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