Advocacy is a central element in creating change in organizations
Organizations and networks, wherever they are located, will vary in the moves they have made toward making their information and knowledge resources open . For further progress to be made different aspects of the way they work may need to change – technical infrastructure, staff skills and roles, attitudes to the communication of research and knowledge, and so on. Advocacy will play a central role in making these changes happen.
Developing an advocacy campaign and sowing the seeds of change
A campaign of advocacy in an organization involves careful planning, continuing activity over an extended period of time, and an awareness of and commitment to changes within the organization. Advocating for openness has produced a large body of experience worldwide in recent years and there are excellent sources of information which provide guidance. The following CIARD and IMARK resources can be used to guide the development and implementation of plans and actions.
1. Advocate for the development of open digital resources in your organization. All key stakeholders will need to be convinced of the advantages that this will bring to the organization, and on the international stage – whether they are researchers, senior managers, librarians or field workers.
Guidance on developing and implementing advocacy campaigns is provided by the CIARD Advocacy Toolkit.
2. As part of the advocacy campaign it will be helpful to support your arguments by benchmarking the current production and use of information in your organization.
Shown in context in CIARD Advocacy Toolkit, ‘Tool 7: Building an advocacy case for an organization’.
3. Create a strategy and policy foundation for digital information management and communication in your organization. Because these developments will affect all parts of your organization a strategic and policy-based approach is necessary to achieve sustainable benefits in the longer term.
See IMARK module ‘Strategic Approaches to Information’, particularly Unit 2 – ‘Developing an Information Strategy’
4. How do you change the culture of an organization? It is important to develop advocacy messages and strategic plans collaboratively with all key stakeholders. It is not easy to change hearts and minds – it takes time. This will be done through communication, persuasion, and a well managed strategic planning process – as described in the resources above. Articulating the benefits of change to all stakeholders will eventually win the day!
Advocate in a network of organizations
It is often advantageous or necessary for a number of organizations which share a vision of openness to work together. In this way their combined influence can be used to create change at even a national or international level. The CIARD Case Studies describe a number of national or multi-institutional initiatives which have developed in this way. The principles of advocacy within networks, and the relationship with strategy and policies, are essentially the same as within a single organization.
It is important to remember that advocacy will need to continue as a central activity of the development of openness. Communicating positive messages and explaining the need for further development should be continuous. The CGIAR does this across its’ institutions in the ict-km programme.