“How to manage stakeholders” is one of the biggest challenges a Product Owner in an Agile environment faces when fulfilling her role. Especially as part of a scrum team, it is important to really engage both customers, and stakeholders to value. Communication and inspection during the sprint review and backlog management are vital to ensuring the engagement of the stakeholders and delivering value as desired by customers and stakeholders.

One of the tools for stakeholder management is the stakeholder’s map. In most Product Owner training (either for CSPO or PSPO), the importance of stakeholders map is highlighted as well. However, I have not seen many Product Owners actively using this stakeholders map, nor have I seen it being applied to strategically managing stakeholders. With this in mind, I advise Product Owners to visualize the stakeholders map and adjust the communication according to the quadrant they are in. In this article, I will elaborate on the stakeholders map and highlight how to effectively use the stakeholders analysis and explore the preferred communication style for each quadrant. Furthermore, I will provide a step by step instructions on how to set-up a stakeholders map.

The stakeholders map consists of two axes. The horizontal axis is the extent to which a stakeholder is engaged with the team, product or goal. The vertical axis is the amount of influence a stakeholder has on decisions to reach the goals.

Key Players

Key players are stakeholders who have a high level of engagement and also have a high influence to reach the team, company, or product goals. These stakeholders are easy to recognize, as they are willing to help you as a Product Owner to clarify any ideas you are thinking about.

As a Product Owner, you should try to have as many stakeholders in this quadrant. These stakeholders not only love your idea, but they also help you to market and discuss with other stakeholders on your behalf.

Preferred communication styles:

–         Involve these stakeholders to discuss “crazy” ideas

o  As these stakeholders are easy going, they will not judge you and help you to clarify and help you make your ideas more concrete.

–         Use direct communication like live meetings, coffee moments, brainstorm sessions, calling at the end of the day etc.

–         Let them be the first to know any upcoming changes or risks which may influence reaching your goals

–         Invite them personally for the sprint reviews



The stakeholders in this quadrant are typically stakeholders who do not have much time. They, however, have a big influence on the success of your idea. Managers, leadership team members, and leading teams are usually in this quadrant. These stakeholders like being involved as little as possible and are only interested in highlights and the decisions that have to be made. When correctly paid attention to and having them involved in a timely manner, they can become your sponsor to reaching your goals.

Preferred communication styles:

–         Involve these stakeholders when a plan needs to finalize

o  As these stakeholders don’t have much time, but have a big influence, it is important not to pass them in the decision-making process.

–         Use high-level communication and only update these stakeholders when plans might change

–         Use stakeholders update at the end of the sprint to update these stakeholders

o  Be aware, that any updates which are not yet known to these stakeholders might cause more communication effort to explain the situation.

–         Invite them personally and only for sprint reviews that involve change communicated earlier or concrete results to show (or to celebrate)



Stakeholders in this quadrant are highly engaged with your goal and the team. These stakeholders, however, do not have a large influence on the rest of the organization. These are your biggest fans and will follow you wherever you want to go. In an agile environment, these are typically agile coaches, team members etc.

Preferred communication styles:

–         Use more indirect than direct communication.

–         Use personalized communication to engage with these stakeholders

–         Let them be the first to know about the decision you have taken

o  As with any other fan, they do not want hearing things from other parties

o  These stakeholders do not like it when other people know things before they do

–         Invite them personally for the sprint reviews



These stakeholders have low engagement and have low influence on reaching your goals. Although the quadrant is called critics, they are not all critics. Some of these stakeholders just don’t have anything to add to you reaching your goals.

Preferred communication styles:

–         Update these stakeholders on high-level

–         Update them only on major achievements

–         Do not invite them actively for the sprint reviews

o  Maybe if you have a quarterly sprint review or demo it might be interesting to these stakeholders

–         Communicate as indirect as possible, using newsletters and short communications

NOTE: be aware not to neglect these stakeholders, as they might rise in influence and become blockers.

Once the theory about the stakeholders map is clear, it is time to start putting the theory into practice. A step by step instruction can be found via Mind Settlers

Let me know if this has helped you and what tips you have to enrich your stakeholders.