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Context Assessment: The Planning Cycle: What? Who? How?

Toolkit/guidelines

Policy influence is a project in its own right. Careful planning and review is at the heart of managing and implementing it successfully. All good influence planning has three simple stages at its core: Planning calls for considered identification of objectives, careful analysis of the policy audience and targeted promotion of the evidence-based message. The first step is identifying how policy would change in response to the evidence - what is the policy change objective and message? The second step is working to identify who could influence these changes - who is the policy audience? The third step is packaging and delivering the message - how do we want to promote? Constant review is important, and this 'what, who, how' becomes a cycle that iterates until the objective is achieved.

Detailed Outline of the Process

Think of three basic steps in planning and implementing a policy influencing strategy or 'project'.

  1. First, consider what evidence you are working with and the message it communicates. What is the story that you are trying to tell or communicate? If successful, what are the implications for policy change? This is the policy objective and message.
  2. Second consider the audience you are targeting. Who, in government and among opinion leaders, do you need to tell the message to and whose decisions do you need to influence. Where are the supporters, entry points and policy hooks and opportunities you can hang your proposals on in a timely and focused manner? Where are your detractors?
  3. Third, consider the how to promote the message to the audience. How can the information best be delivered? How should the message be packaged? Who should deliver it and in what context? What alliances can you develop, mobilise or organise? When is the best time to promote it?

As the policy influence project progresses objectives, messages, target audiences and promotion strategies should continue to be reviewed, assessed and if possible improved.

This tool first appeared in the ODI Toolkit, Tools for Policy Impact