A Note on Mapping

Abstract

Leaders and managers are subject to competing outside pressures and forces that can enable or block their ability to make progress. Rarely in the public or nonprofit sector does title or position convey the power necessary to fulfill the requirements of the job. Elected officials, budget officials, long-seated bureaucrats, donors, interest groups, the press, community groups, and even internal staff and contracting partners can often have has much to say about what a leader can do as the leader. Particularly when so many checks and balances are in place, power and influence over policy, budgets, and often operations, lies beyond a leader's direct control. Without a systematic means for identifying, measuring and assessing these sources of influence and pressures, a leader cannot carry out basic responsibilities, effectively manage change or respond to crises. This note provides students a guide for identifying these forces as a basic part of their management and leadership repertoire.

This note was originally written by J. Patrick Dobel, and has been edited and revised for publication with the assistance of Angela Day. This framework draws upon, integrates, and expands upon literature and teaching concepts first introduced by Dan H. Fenn Jr. and others in the filed of public management and political science such as John Bryson, John Kingdon, Jonathan Brock, and Mark Moore. Beginning by simply identifying the people, politics or events that may benefit or hinder the mission of the organization, this note prompts students to relate events and pressures to specific actors who will require a leader's attention, and provides them with increasingly detailed tools to identify and assess the influence of these actors. The note contains a series of map overlays that show the development and relationship of these levels of detail. By clearly understanding the political environment and other non-hierarchical influences, a leader or manager is better informed and more realistic in his or her decisions. Mapping can become, with the use of this note, a systematic and theoretically sound tool for managers and leaders's attention, and provides them with increasingly detailed tools to identify and assess the influence of these actors. The note contains a series of map overlays that show the development and relationship of these levels of detail. By clearly understanding the political environment and other non-hierarchical influences, a leader or manager is better informed and more realistic in his or her decisions. Mapping can become, with the use of this note, a systematic and theoretically sound tool for managers and leaders, one of the basic building blocks of sound leadership analysis and development of organizational strategies and management tactics.

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