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Two Components in Political Competence
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a less stable, more uncertain environment It involves the development of a variety of alternatives of what the future might look like (Leemhuis, 1985) The idea is to develop plans for how the organization will react to each scenario, or combination of scenarios It is in essence an elaborate if then exercise Assessment and Diffusion The last two steps of environmental analysis are assessment and diffusion Assessment involves a strategic evaluation of the importance and implications of policy issues This step allows an organization to prioritize issues and activities The assessment may be based on judgment, past experiences (own or others), and/or any modeling/quantification possible Diffusion entails sharing information with all individuals within an organization, especially those who have responsibilities to carry out some part of the decision/activities Using the Environmental Analysis for Strategic Planning If the environmental analysis is done well, the plan of action will include proactive activities to influence the policy outcome prior to official action even being put in motion Based on the environmental analysis, an organization knows what its key issues are, what is/has been going on with those issues, has projected likely future conditions, and assessed the importance of issues and shared information with those who need to know It has not, however, developed a strategic plan or an action plan regarding the approach to influencing the policy A classic strategic planning process (QuickMBA, 2005), as outlined later in the chapter, can help an organization think through this aspect of political competence and influence Mission and Objectives While the organization s mission and vision stays constant regardless of the issue, the objectives certainly change What does the organization want to see as the outcome for each of its strategic policy issues Ideally, the objectives are measurable In the case of policy, an objective may be to get a certain bill passed, get a certain issue on the agenda, or just the opposite Environmental Scanning Similar to the environmental scanning process discussed earlier, in general, this phase of the strategic planning process entails assessing internal and external factors to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) One can also use the PEST analysis, which calls for the assessment of political, economic, social, and technological factors in the external environment
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Strategy Formulation and Action Planning Developing the strategy and action plan relies on the two prior steps: Using the identified internal strengths to capitalize on opportunities, and having a mitigation plan for the identified threats and internal weaknesses In the context of political competence, what is the desired outcome What is the organization s current ability to exert influence and what needs improvement What will the organization do to influence policy Who will represent the organization What will they communicate At what point in the process When, how, where, and to whom will they communicate Strategy Implementation Strategy implementation involves mobilizing the resources of the organization to execute the designed strategy For them to execute the strategy successfully, individuals accountable for acting will need information regarding the strategy itself and the background information The step of diffusion, described earlier, is critical in ensuring effective implementation The specific actions outlined are those that most likely comprise the step of influencing the process, to be discussed in the next section Evaluation The nonprofit must always evaluate the outcomes of the strategy The organization needs to evaluate how it did in meeting its defined objectives If it was successful, what made it so If not, where did the effort break down The strategic planning process is clearly intermingled with both the environmental assessment and influencing the policy process, but it adds in the key steps of outlining objectives, developing a strategy and action plan, implementing a strategy (in a more comprehensive way than diffusion or influence), and on-going evaluation In terms of political competence, much of the strategy implementation comes in the form of influencing the process Influencing the Process The second component of political competence is influencing the policymaking process By definition, influence is simply the process by which people successfully persuade others to follow their advice, suggestion or order (Keys and Case, 1990) In the context of the policymaking process, organizations and individuals have the opportunity to exert influence at virtually any point along the process For example, one might influence the problem definition and agenda-setting stages by helping to define and/or document problems, or by changing political circumstances through lobbying efforts or litigation An organization or individual can influence the policy development stage by participating in drafting legislation and/or by testifying at legislative hearings
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