How to do an Influence Diagram

An Influence diagram shows, in any given situation, the main structural features and the important influences that exist among them.

It is a quick way to get an overview to an activity, a process or organization and their main relationships.

This diagram or analysis tool can be used to either explore the interrelationships that could lead to refocusing a group, the laying down of new priorities or even re-definition of a system.

What you need to do an Influence Diagram

Influence Diagram

You use:

  • “Blobs”
  • Assorted arrows; the size of which will indicate the size and strength of the influence, and
  • Words; these label the blobs and possibly the arrows.

Influence Diagram Example


  • You can show system boundaries by using a perimeter line that encompasses a particular grouping of items, activities, persons or groups.
  • You can use arrows to join up components or show the strength of influence one exerts over another – or even more than one other.

Note 1:

Remember that the arrows serve to show the influence or relationship status and should not serve to show the flow of materials or the sequence of process flows. In other words, the arrows show the capacity to influence, not a sequence in time. After all, this diagram will be just a snapshot in time.

Note 2:

Please avoid using arrows from elements in the environment directly to the system boundary. They should end up at a specific system component or at an activity within the system. This is because, it goes without saying, that elements of the environment will influence the system, so these arrows to the system boundary are superfluous.

Note 3:

Avoid using double-sided arrows as this implies equal influence exerted by both elements and this is really seldom the case. Use two single direction arrows (as with arrows 6 in the Diagram). Always add a clear legend, giving the reader the ability to accurately interpret what you are trying to convey.

Making your System Robust

A successfully carried out Influence Analysis will highlight risk factors relating to powerful relationships or weak positions.

You also will have gathered new insights as to the role played by external influences on the area you are assessing.

By addressing the weaknesses and gaining from the strengths, you will make your concept more robust.

Try out an this diagram as part of your Problem Solving Approach or as part of Change Management.

› Influence Diagram

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