The right people have been engaged along the way, and your advice is tailored to the audience and context so it has the best chance of landing well.
- Engaged those with influence from the start and included them in your advice process.
- Understood your target audience and their motivations.
- Considered the broader context and who’s involved in related decisions.
- Provided options, and the key risks and benefits for the various courses of action; but made clear recommendations.
- Been honest and impartial.
- Demonstrated the best option using evidence and stakeholder feedback.
- Shared your thinking with the decision makers too late.
- Ignored the context and motivations of the audience.
- Interesting findings but no clear recommendations.
- Advice that is narrow and biased.
- Opinions, with limited evidence or stakeholder consideration.
What does it mean to be Influential
Despite our best intentions, our advice sometimes misses the mark. Influential advice is built by engaging early and often with those who can support or block the ideas you are formulating, understanding the audience for your advice, and targeting the message to them and their context.
Engaging those with influence from the start and including them in your advice process
Being influential doesn’t start at the moment you hand over your advice. Influence is built over time, by engaging those who can influence the policy and taking them on the journey with you. By the time you get to the point of giving advice, you should know how it’s going to be received, because you’ve engaged people along the way and incorporated their perspectives.
Understanding your target audience and their motivations
You need to understand the audience for you advice. Are they motivated by driving efficiency, helping people, innovation, or the environment? Knowing their interests and what they care about can help you frame your policy to be more compelling. This also applies to how you deliver the message. Someone who doesn’t like reading a lot of text will appreciate a one-page summary; someone who’s very visual might prefer a placemat. If you understand your audience, you can present your advice most effectively.
Considering the broader context and who’s involved in related decisions
It’s likely your policy won’t be the only decision or change happening in this area of Government. The types of problems being addressed by the government today sit within a broader context, and a decision in one space will impact another. And given the problems are complex and interlinked, you’ll likely need to connect with other agencies and parties outside of government. It’s important to consider how best to frame and present your advice given these connections to ensure cohesion.
Providing options, and identifying the key risks and benefits of the various courses of action; making clear recommendations
Policy advice isn’t just about presenting a balanced look at all the research, although you do have to do that, it’s also about taking a stand. You need to have a point of view. Something you’re willing to put your name against.
Demonstrating the best option using evidence and stakeholder feedback
Evidence is a fundamental part of proving a compelling case to decision makers and other stakeholders. That includes both quantitative and qualitative data, as well as demonstrating you’ve learned from the past, and sharing the voices of those who will be affected by the policy.