Make Your “Ask” Feasible

When you want something from Government, it has to be something they can deliver.

Tough DecisionsSometimes, it is pretty clear whether something can be delivered, or not – you can’t have a State or Local Government do something where the power to do it is exclusively vested in the Federal Government, for example.

Mostly, though, feasibility is a “maybe” rather than a clear “yes” or “no”, in which case you need to work out whether what you want is too hard to get, and whether you must

  • seek something else right now, maybe part of what you originally have wanted, which has a greater prospect of being acceptable, or a different way to get your outcome delivered,
  • look for it later (say, when the Government has changed, or after a Ministerial reshuffle), or
  • abandon your plans altogether.

How can you make such an important business or organisational decision?

travel_as_strategy_smallFirst, treat achieving your objective like a journey:

  • identify where you want to get to (say, the Eiffel Tower)
  • list everything that has to come together for you to get there (money, flights, bookings, luggage, time, and so on)
  • list everything that might stop you (mechanical problems, rejection of visas, theft, illness, lost luggage, Vladimir Putin’s expansionism, etc)
  • identify how you secure every single one of those things that are necessary to get there (use a reputable airline, apply early for visas, buy a suitcase with roller wheels, or whatever it might be)
  • identify how/if you can overcome each of the things that will stop you (don’t travel via unstable countries, get vaccinated, have your criminal convictions expunged so your visa application isn’t rejected, for example)
  • if there are some you simply can’t overcome, consider whether there’s an alternative destination that might suit you (Adelaide is pretty – the Paris of the Antipodes).

Now you’ve got your plan for getting to the Eiffel Tower!

In the context of your policy feasibility journey,

  • the Eiffel Tower is your best case and most ambitious policy outcome – full, speedy and enthusiastic adoption of your idea of product;
  • things that have to come together will include taking your idea to the right person, couching it in ways they will find appealing, presenting it credibly, and so on;
  • things that might stop your proposal travelling anywhere could include budgetary inflexibility, incompatible Government or Party policy, intransigent stakeholders, electoral unpopularity, opposing factions in the bureaucracy or Party, the Minister’s Chief of Staff doesn’t like you, etc – many of the hurdles to be identified in this research are critically important and all too often are glossed over by enthusiastic proponents of the project;
  • securing the necessities for your journey will include having a thoroughly well-developed proposal, an understanding of the structure and priorities of the portfolio, carefully crafted presentation that speaks to your audience, for example;
  • overcoming obstacles might include creative* financing, finding ways to secure policy change before advancing your proposal, finding a Champion for your proposal within Government, identifying clear community benefits, and many, many, more.

Assessing feasibility for a significant proposal usually require clear-headed research, and external evaluation and testing – your enthusiasm for your own proposal is guaranteed to blind you to some of the opposition, difficulties and hurdles.

 

* By which I definitely don’t mean dodgy!

About Mike Smith

Partner in Ethical Consulting Services: www.ethicalconsulting.com; sometime University lecturer; previously Government Relations consultant; before that Labor Party State Secretary in Northern Territory; union advocate with LHMU/United Voice in NT and NSW; hobby – election campaigns!

Posted on July 1, 2015, in Australian Government, Change, Communication, Culture, Government decision-making, Government Relations, how to lobby, Inbound investment, Lobbying, marketing, Planning, Policy, Political tactics, Politics, Project facilitation, public service decision-making, Strategy. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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