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Outcome Mapping Practitioner Guide

Alignment, Interest, Influence Matrix

A stakeholder analysis technique that can be used for identifying and classifying boundary partners. Mostly used for strategic planning, it can also be used for monitoring changes in stakeholders.

Author: Simon Hearn

Published: Monday 15 September 2014

The Alignment, Interest, Influence Matrix (AIIM) is a simple stakeholder mapping tool which was developed by the Research and Policy in Development (RAPID) programme at ODI. RAPID uses the AIIM to help get from a long list of stakeholders to a more refined understand of the their potential engagement in an initiative. It is particularly useful to think beyond the classic 'boundary partners' and consider stakeholders who may be in opposition to the initiative or who may be uninterested or otherwise unable to engage with the initiative.

There are three dimensions to the tool:

  • Alignment: To what extent does the stakeholder agree with the initiative's goals and approach?
  • Interest: To what extent is the stakeholder already engaged in the issues or the field of the initiative? (e.g. are they committing resources, speaking out, setting objectives?) 
  • Influence: To what degree can they sway the debate? Are they in a position of authority and can they use it to put pressure on decision-making?

High alignment / high interest are classic boundary partners.

High alignment / low interest would be characterised by a stakeholder that broadly shares the same objective but is unable or unwilling to commit resources to it—such as a local organisation with a very limited budget, or an organisation for whom the issue is just appearing on the agenda (so has not budget apportioned to it). 

Low alignment / high interest would be a stakeholder that is funding work in the same area as the project, but with an opposing objective — such as a lobby group for a particular vested interest.

The RAPID team at ODI uses AIIM extensively in workshops with researchers and their collaborators, not only at the beginnings of projects and programs.   It can be done at any stage: in the initial stages of a project to understand the scope of possible engagement, or part way through to consolidate a team’s thinking about who is involved and how they can sequence their communication and engagement activities as results begin to emerge.  The tool is best developed in a group; the point is not just to produce a map, but to use the mapping process to focus discussions around who might be interested in the results of your work and the different ways you could engage with them.  It generally helps identify a broader list of stakeholders than are identified at the outset of research projects, and gaps which might otherwise be ‘blind spots’ in terms of new or emerging audiences, or potential enablers or blockers of change.

An AIIM can be constructed both for projects that lead to clear and precise policy recommendations, as well as for those that do not but which offer important insights on a range of different options that need consideration by policymakers. The steps are:

  1. Identify the project’s overall objective: is it to produce precise recommendations on an issue or to provide evidence about the range of options policymakers need to consider?
  2. With reference to that objective, list all the stakeholders you can think of (listing them on post-it notes is helpful).
  3. Draw the axes of the map on a large sheet of paper and place the post-its on the map: their absolute position is less important than their positions relative to each other. Their placement on the map should be informed by some form of evidence as to why you have chosen that position.
  4. Don’t be limited to a single post-it per organisation: if different teams or people have different degrees of alignment or influence, separate them out.
  5. If the project is working in more than one country, or at both national and international levels, it is best to do an AIIM for each.

Constructing the map in a group will ensure you consider the full range of people and organisations that need to be included.  Consider whether any stakeholders can be grouped and what their requirements are: it will help target your communications and engagement strategy. 

This nugget was applied in: Many projects: Accountability in Tanzania, Mwananchi Africa Governance and Transparency Programme, among others.

Related Practitioner Guide sections:

Associated resources:

Latin America & Carribean Sub-Saharan Africa North Africa & Middle East South Asia South East Asia & Pacific Far-East Asia Eastern Europe & CIS (ex USSR) Western Europe North America & Canada Australasia