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Decide who will respond to the problem

Some people are able to have more of an impact on users than others. Deciding who is best placed to respond to a problem and getting their agreement to act are the most influential factors on whether a user will experience any change and how effective that change is.

When to do it

Do this after you have mapped your users and stakeholders (see chapter: identify users and stakeholders).

How to do it

You should:

  • map users and stakeholders that have an interest in the problem

  • analyse degrees of separation between stakeholders and the user

  • consider the types of actions that could be taken by you and your stakeholders

  • estimate their impact on the user and the problem

  • consider the stakeholders ability and motivation to collaborate on solving the problem

  • choose the best approach and seek agreement with the owner of the work such as the senior responsible officer

  • plan how and when to persuade people to address the problem

Try this activity

This activity will help you identify who could respond to the problem (actors). It will give you a map of potential actors and analysis of whether they might collaborate.

Time, space and materials

  • 45 minutes

  • your user and stakeholder map (see the chapter: identify users and stakeholders)

  • any space with a wall, sticky notes, paper, pens and some tape or some large (flipchart-sized) paper for a face-to-face event

  • or for a remote event use a video conference and online whiteboard that will take the place of the wall and enable participants to add and move online ‘sticky notes’


  • draw or use tape to make a vertical line on the wall that is at least one metre long

  • at the bottom of the line, write ‘user’

  • at the middle of the line, write ‘you’

People to include

  • subject matter experts

  • the owner, such as the senior responsible owner

  • any number of people

  • a facilitator to provide the instructions


The purpose of this activity is to identify who is best placed to respond to the problem and assess how likely it is that they will do so.

  1. Add a sticky note for each of the users that you have identified to the bottom of the vertical line. Add a sticky note with your own name or team name to the middle of the line. This line shows closeness or proximity to the user. Some people or organisations have a direct relationship with the user. Others will influence the user indirectly. You are going to create a map showing ‘degrees of separation’.

  2. Choose stakeholders that could take action to change the user’s behaviour and contribute to solving the problem. For every stakeholder that you choose, add a sticky note to the line. Order the stakeholders to show degrees of separation from the user. People that work directly with the user should be in the first layer, and so on. You and your team might be in the first layer from the user, or there may be one or more layers between you and the user. You are aiming to create 4 to 7 layers. Add the sticky notes now, look where other people have placed their sticky notes, discuss and agree the positioning with each other. You have 10 minutes.

  3. Write down actions that each stakeholder could take. Keep the description short, like ‘make reporting easier’. Write your actions on sticky notes and stick them next to the stakeholder name. You have 10 minutes.

  4. Assign people to different parts of the map so that everyone has an equal number of stakeholders to work on. Everyone should now read all their stakeholder’s actions. Group together similar ones. If you need to make the action clearer, write a new sticky note. You have 2 minutes.

  5. Each person should tell everyone else what actions have been suggested. You have 1 minute each.

  6. Vote on the actions that will have the greatest impact on your problem. Everyone gets 5 votes. Put your votes in one place or share them around, it is up to you. Vote by marking the sticky note with a big dot. Everyone should think about how they are going to vote for one minute, then all vote at the same time.

  7. Take the prioritised actions and put them on another part of the wall in order of popularity. Create 2 columns next to the action: ability and motivation.

  8. Everyone now gets to score the actions. First, ability meaning can the stakeholder take the action. Second, motivation meaning does the stakeholder want to take the action. Score each category from 1 to 5. 1 is low. 5 is high. Write each score on a separate sticky note. Work alone and keep the score to yourself for now. We will put them up on the wall later. You have 2 minutes.

  9. Everyone should now put their scores on the wall. Select one person to add up the scores. Discuss the outcome.

  10. You now have a prioritised map of where action could be taken and analysis of how feasible it is that stakeholders will collaborate.


  • when considering actions, think about how the stakeholder could solve the problem, what they offer, and what existing things could be re-used

  • think about ways the government can try to change things, including policy and standards, commissioning, funding, and stewardship

  • think about ways to make existing things better by improving how people, processes and technology work together

  • consider how you can coordinate stakeholders in the same layer, so that you avoid creating or perpetuating silos

  • consider what would happen if you did nothing

  • when considering ability, think about capability, capacity, and dependencies

  • when considering motivation, think about how a stakeholder’s values, goals and ambitions align to yours

  • ask what action you or your team could take to increase the ability or motivation of stakeholders

Next steps

  • do the activity, Shape your delivery network, to help inform your decision on who should respond

  • seek strategic guidance from the owner of the work. It’s likely that they will determine who should take the work forward

Further reading

Find out more about this topic by searching the internet for:

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