Policy changes refer to incremental shifts in existing structures, or new and innovative policies (Bennett and Howlett 1992). Change is a constant in our lives, whether it be in industries, technologies, or diverse sectors such as transportation, education, health care, or social policy. However, we know very little about when and how change occurs. Since 2008, policymakers in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries have faced a severe economic crisis, but it remains to be seen whether this was a squandered opportunity.
As we’ve observed, policies frequently emerge out of people’s basic ideas about the world. As a result, they’re often difficult to change, and efforts to do so require patience, sensitivity, and hard work if they’re to be successful
How policies should get changed?
Policy changes are not easy to implement, and many people make mistakes when it comes to policy changes.
We’ve termed them the “Eight P’s” to make them simpler to remember: planning, preparation, personal contact, public pulse, positivism, participation, publicity, and persistence.
- Planning: Strategic planning is vital to guarantee that your overall strategy makes sense and that modifying policies is a necessary and suitable aspect of it.
- Preparation: Changing policy is one of the most challenging – but also one of the most effective – ways of improving a community or civilization. You must prepare in order to succeed. Conduct the appropriate research to learn as much as you can about the problem.
- Personal contact: As former House Speaker Tip O’Neill stated, all politics are not just local, but also personal. Personal ties are essential for successful lobbying of any form, including policy change. If you can establish a personal connection with policymakers. However, with opinion leaders and even opponents, you may get your phone calls returned, have your voice heard, keep arguments calm, and maintain a degree of credibility considerably larger than if you were merely a name or a face.
- The public (community’s) pulse: Take the pulse of the community to learn what citizens will favor, what they will oppose, and how to persuade them. You have a considerably better chance of success if you aim to reform policies in ways that the community will embrace, or at the very least tolerate, rather than challenging people’s fundamental values.
- Positivism: The old adage, “You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar,” also applies to policy change. One strategy to emphasize the positive aspects of a proposed policy change is to give incentives (tax rebates, for example) for doing the right thing rather than punishment (special taxes) for doing the wrong thing.
- Participation: Make an attempt to engage essential people, such as opinion leaders and trustworthy community figures, but focus on making your effort participatory. This will lend legitimacy to the initiative, foster community ownership of the effort, ensure that a diverse variety of views and information is considered when formulating a plan and action steps, and encourage community leadership of the effort.
- Publicity: Use the media, the Internet, your community contacts, and your inventiveness to keep people informed about the work and the concerns while also maintaining a high profile. You want the community to be aware of your policy-change initiatives, to understand how and why you’re attempting to alter policies, and to recognize the importance of change.
- Persistence: Policy changes can take time. You must monitor and analyze your action to ensure that it is having the desired effect, and you must adjust it if it is not. And if you want to be successful, you must be willing to work for as long as it takes. Policy reform, like all advocacy efforts, necessitates a long-term commitment.
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