I had the opportunity to attend a superb lecture on influencing policy. The lecture was delivered by Professor Paul Cairney from Stirling University, and following his talk there was a thought-provoking panel discussion. It certainly is no secret that the world of politics and policy is messy, so to hear about some ways one can begin to cut through to key decision makers was rather exciting.

It does surprise me that in this era where evidence abounds about what works and what doesn’t – a lot of decisions are made without taking into account what the evidence says. Like, there are the folks – not just any folks but powerful folks – willing to settle on what has been proven not to work. They have a penchant for reinventing the wheel and on most occasions,  they opt to reinvent the version that failed to function or was proven not to be fit for purpose. Perplexing!

Both the lecture and panel discussion did leave me thinking about navigation in this behemoth ‘world’ of power, politics and policy. It is a world that seems to prize people and change, yet it often seems to operate in a fashion removed from the very people it prides itself on serving.

My top 3 takeaways from the session about how to begin influencing policy were that to influence policy, you need to:

  1. Speak to the values of the power brokers and decision makers: if you can do it in a different way to the norm e.g. shorter sharper presentations and reports, then do it!
  2. Frame the issue well: we tend to lose a lot of folks in the story telling and translation of information. Focus on the facts that matter.
  3. Tell of the issue well: be engaging and present workable solutions.

It is a very crude summation of the key points because there is a depth of dimensions to unpack. Perhaps I will get this done over a series of posts.  Keen to hear of other industry experiences.

In other news, this week was ‘THE’ week! After hitting the email refresh button enough times on a daily for the last week and a half the one long awaited email I had been waiting for finally came through and it carried great news. Thy project has been given the green light by the ethics committee!!

This means I am partly released from the ‘prison of reading’. I can actually go out there and start doing the exciting stuff i.e. fieldwork. Oh, the joy! If ever you meet someone who has done research – be they religious or irreligious – I can guarantee you, they would know Psalm 23 although I suspect it would have been adapted to speak of the ‘valley of ethics approval and fearing revisions’.

Milestone moments 🙂



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