Develop a Stakeholder Map for This Semester's Sponsored Project

Jon Ericson, Bentley University, Information Design & Corporate Communication
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Students create a single Stakeholder Map (using for the whole team based on information from this semester's project sponsor and based on insights from interviews that they have conducted.

Used this activity? Share your experiences and modifications

Learning Goals

- Concepts: Complex systems
- Content: Stakeholder mapping
- This particular course-specific activity did not rely on data from environmental disciplines
- The main higher-order thinking skill I believe the exercise develops is systems thinking

Context for Use

Educational Level: Graduate (M.S.)
Class Size: 17
Institution Type: University
Type of Activity: Classroom Activity; Project
How much Time is Needed: 2+ hrs
Technical Skills Needed: Familiarity with an online whiteboard tool such as
Disciplinary Skills Needed: Familiarity with stakeholder mapping; a basic understanding of complex systems theory; interviewing skills
How is the activity situated in the course?: The activity takes place early in the semester as it provides a good foundation for helping students to develop an awareness of all of the relevant stakeholders in the project
Adaptation to Other Settings: Easy, especially after students have completed the common exercise

Description and Teaching Materials


Using Mural, create a single Stakeholder Map mural for the whole team based on information from this semester's project sponsor and insights from the interviews that you have conducted thus far.


  1. Begin with individual brainstorming (set a timer). Who are the relevant stakeholders? How do they interact with one another? If you don't know something (e.g., how they interact), add a "?" post-it.
  2. Then, work together to develop a map for the whole team.

Teaching Notes and Tips

I found that one of the teams did not follow the instructions to work individually to produce their own maps before working together to produce a single team map. Instead, they nominated one individual to record all of the team's ideas about the various stakeholders, and also used a stakeholder map template from Mural ( that had a predefined structure with blank areas in which stakeholders could be added. I believe this was problematic for the exercise because I believe that having students create maps individually generally helps the teams avoid a certain amount of "groupthink," and that using a template with a predefined structure encourages participants to make their mental model of the problem conform to the constraints of the template. In the future, I think it will be important to clarify that it's critically important that everyone work individually first, and also clarify that they should use a blank mural or whiteboard rather than a mind map template that imposes a predefined structure on their ideation.


A modified version of the rubric used for the common exercise will be used to assess the degree to which student teams identified relevant stakeholders and the interactions between those stakeholders.

References and Resources