Whether you have decided to be involved in Legislative and Executive Branch Advocacy, Policy Analysis, Government Procurement, Government Loan and Grant Programs, Crisis Management or agency rule making, Power Mapping is an important strategy.
(Agencies get their authority to issue regulations from laws (statutes) enacted by the Federal or state legislatures. Members of interested groups may be invited to meetings where they attempt to reach a consensus on the terms of the proposed rule. If the participants reach agreement, the agency may endorse their ideas and use them as the basis for the proposed rule).
Power Mapping: A step by step approach.
Step 1. Determine your target
A power map is a visual tool and should be drawn. The map starts with a person or institution you want to influence – this is your target. Power maps are worked out for the purpose of solving an advocacy or lobbying problem. The person or institution that can solve this problem is usually the target or center for the map. Often the targets are elected or appointed decision makers or committees.
Example: a casino is trying to build in the historic preservation area of your community. The city zoning commission is considering a special rewrite of the town’s ordinances to accommodate new construction. Your group opposes efforts to rewrite local laws to accommodate new construction in the historic area. The zoning commission has the final say over any changes to the ordinance. Two members are opposed, two members are in favor. One member of the commission is undecided. Your group has decided to influence the undecided commissioner to ensure that she votes against the zoning re-write. The group is developing a power map to determine how to best influence this commissioner.
Step 2. Map Influence of your Target(s)
Think of all the associations who have a relationship with this target. Think broadly. These can include work, political, family, religious, community service and neighborhood ties. Anyone who can exert influence on this individual should be mapped.
- Be creative – even if you decide you do not want to target, for example, the commissioners’ family, putting them up on the map might give you ideas on other avenues of influence.
- Be strategic – Elected officials are easy to map. Look at all the major donors and constituency groups she has interacted with in the past, present and future.
- Be Thorough – Spend some time thinking about the target from every different angle. Once you are satisfied, start thinking about what these people and institutions are connected to. A good power map will have major influences mapped out, outlining multiple degrees of separation.
Step 3: Determine Relational Power Lines
Take a step back and review the network you’ve created. Some of these people and institutions not only connect to the target, but also to one another. You might find that the target is a member of the local historical society but so is their spouse, a religious leader that they respect or even a child. The historical society connects many of the influences in the target’s life. These connectors are called “nodes of power” within a given network. These nodes don’t always connect directly to the target. If the Commissioner was not a member of the historical society, but their spouse, clergy or the mayor were all members, the historical society could still be a major influence on her. Power mapping sometimes reveals surprises. Also some of these networks may connect directly to you or your group.
Step 4: Target Priority Relationships
Now analyze some of the connections and make some decisions. One way to do this is to circle the few people that have the most relational power lines drawn to them (the historical society or mayor etc.). Consider attempting to involve these people through your group’s current relationships. If no one in the group has any influence over these nodes of power, it may be useful to do a power map around that institution or person to help you figure out how you can influence them. Another consideration might be a person or institution in the map that doesn’t necessarily have many different relational lines running to him/her/it, but nonetheless has a few critical ones and seems very influential. If you can identify a priority person/institution for which there isn’t a clear relationship, then you might want to encourage the group to find out more about this person/institution. As you get used to power mapping you can draw more complex maps. Many problems will have multiple decision makers. For example you may start to draw the target’s most influential relationships closest in proximity to the name in the physical map. You might use different colors to indicate whether the person or institution is friendly to your position, unfriendly, or unknown.
The power map itself is a first step in figuring out an advocacy organization’s strategies. After the map is completed, it is used to decide how and where to take action. It’s flexible in that it can provide direction for Legislative and Executive Branch Advocacy, Policy Analysis, Government Procurement, Government Loan and Grant Programs, Crisis Management or agency rule making.
Duane Morris Government Strategies is a bipartisan government relations firm. Duane Morris Government Strategies represent clients before the federal government and in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, New York, New Jersey and Ohio. Duane Morris Government Strategies professionals offer a full complement of government-affairs services, including legislative and executive branch advocacy, policy analysis, assistance with government procurement and funding programs, and crisis management.
Duane Morris Government Strategies professionals have held high-level political positions in both Republican and Democratic administrations, and have run and played active roles in federal, state, and local political campaigns. They have also worked for members of Congress, congressional and state committees, and presidential and gubernatorial transition teams. Also at Duane Morris Government Strategies disposal are hundreds of seasoned attorneys from the Duane Morris law firm who have handled complex legal issues in the public and private sectors across a multitude of industries.
Author Martin Milita, a Senior Director at Duane Morris Government Strategies, is equally comfortable on Wall Street, in Trenton NJ or in Washington, where he offers clients a singular blend of business savvy, political acumen, and policy know how.