Tan Sukhera 00:01
Welcome to Canadian regulatory fireside chats. Now, before the pandemic gr folks used to get together especially on Thursdays and Fridays at lunch and network, and they would learn from their peers and troubleshoot on different issues, brush up on tips. But unfortunately now it’s a bit of a thing of the past with the pandemic. And it’s really in the spirit that we created Canadian regulatory fireside chats. Now, there’s been a massive lack of information out there, especially on our social media feeds about the fantastic work that people are up to in the space. And we’re really proud to be part of the solution. Now, the series is meant to be a platform for champions of industry, from government relations, policy, regulatory teams to share their take on best practices, overcoming challenges and educating others. Now, if you’re a fan of the chats, please feel free to like, share and join in the conversation. And now it’s time for some of the housekeeping rules. So as you guys know, it’s a 30 minute session, there’s a q&a in the chat, so you can locate it that in the Zoom call now, the recording is going to be shared after the event. And if you’d like to tweet, you can always live tweet us hashtag fireside chats, and our handle is at no at GN o wi t. Now, if you’re interested in becoming a speaker, you can always send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org There’s always different topics and industries and really the goal is to share as much insights really as possible. And on that note, I’m your host, as always Hansa Kara, I’m the VP of insights for no at Inc. And just to let you know that we’re always and still are improving and eager to learn and always welcome your feedback. Now it’s my favorite time where I get to introduce our speaker for today. We’ve got Lucas with us. So this is episode 14 demonstrating success in gr Lucas Viggo is the government relations lead at the Canadian Nurses Association. He has nearly nine years of experience with advocacy in Brazil and in Canada and has worked with a range of sectors including health, it innovation and telecommunications. He has an MBA in government relations and a master’s degree in Political management. He currently serves as a board member at the Government Relations Institute of Canada. Without any further ado, take it away, Lucas.
Lucas Viega 02:04
Thank you so much. I’ll just bear with me one second. I’ll just share my screen here. Okay, that looks good. Perfect. So thank you so much again, 10. I’m really happy and glad to be here. And I just talked about a topic that I like a lot. Just like to first just say that I’m speaking to you today from the have gone Quinn in an economic traditional land of the Algonquin and astronomic peoples. And yeah, we’ll just jump into it. I really like this topic. And well we’ll be talking about today is a couple of things. First, what I want to cover is what are the challenges of measuring success and demonstrating return on investment in government relations. We’ll talk a little bit about strategy and the importance of strategic thinking and planning in government relations and advocacy, then we’ll get into measuring success and what KPIs or key performance indicators and metrics look like. And and then I’ll wrap us up with a couple of key takeaways. So first, with government relations, there’s always this notion that it’s very difficult to measure success and demonstrate ROI. And that’s because of a you know, a multitude of different challenges with this particular field. And I’ve kind of kind of narrowed it down to eight main challenges that I’ll go over now. And the first one is how gr is really an inexact science. And so advocacy and gr outcomes, they’re they can be very intangible, they’re not concrete. The activities in this space can be less linear, and depend on external factors, for example. So reputation brand, or brand awareness and issue awareness, are often hard to measure. And it can be challenging to collect data because of that. And the second main challenge is the ever changing a political environment? It’s always changing and depends on unpredictable political forces. So do your strategies really have to be flexible and adapt constantly? A third is what I like kind of like to call the attribution dilemma. It’s hard to attribute the success the success of a particular outcome to a specific organization, given the different forces and players that are at play, in Governor relations and advocacy, rapidly changing circumstances can make it very difficult to establish a link between you know your efforts and policy outcome, like a passing of a bill, for example. And I’ve come across many organizations that simply do not engage in advocacy, simply because they feel that their efforts won’t make a difference because of that attribution dilemma. They think that oh, other organizations are working in this space. So you know, a bill or, you know, regulation or whatever will run its course, regardless of my intervention. And fourth is the long term timeframe. Success and government relations and, you know, anything politically involved or related to politics, can take a long time to come to fruition. And to can require many different types of tactics and approaches in government relations. So the fifth challenges you the non agenda periods, this is where organizations companies, enterprises are developing policy, and building coalitions, which can take a long time can take a significant amount of time from their efforts. And in these phases, there will be little visibility or awareness by the relevant stakeholders in the political space. So it’s hard to be demonstrating, you know, value when you’re in these sort of periods. This number six is the whole issue around outputs versus outcomes, where it’s easier to measure outputs, say the number of meetings you’re having with MPs. It’s easier to do to measure that as opposed to measuring an actual outcome. And sometimes senior management, you know, depending on the organization you’re working with, sometimes senior management only wants to look at outcomes and not, you know, the outputs. Number seven is the whole idea around gr, potentially being very expensive area requiring large sums of investments. And that puts a lot of pressure in gr teams to demonstrate value and ROI. And finally, NGR, there’s this tendency towards a zero sum game, where you know, you sometimes and most often than not, you have adversaries in opposition to your issue. And they’re working very hard to against you. So sometimes, you know, status quo prevails, and you don’t achieve the results you want. And there’s two researchers in this space that I came across, and that they have this phrase or quote, which I find interesting. And they are basically saying, because of all these challenges that I just spoke about, and there are many more, but I’ve kind of seen them as the main ones. They believe that advocacy evaluation shouldn’t be really formalized into a method that you can replicate, just with training, for example, they believe that evaluation, in this case about casinos, er, it’s more of related to tacit knowledge and skill and networks that can be more useful than a rigid methodology. So before, we can’t really talk about how to measure success, through metrics and key performance indicators, KPIs without first talking about strategy and strategic planning, and strategic thinking and government relations. So the first step basically to determining the best KPIs is to develop a strategic plan and objectives. So I wanted to go quickly over a couple of important strategy and management and business methodologies that can be really applied to gr. And the first one is the five keys of strategy. They were created by Henry Mintzberg, who’s actually a Canadian, he’s a management experts, business management expert. And he created the five P’s to help organizations think about strategy more depth. And each P stands for a different perspective applied to strategy. There’s also the balanced balanced scorecard, excuse me, and this is maybe more well known. It’s a strategic planning tool and management method that’s really used extensively by businesses, industry, nonprofits, and even governments. You’ll find a lot of governments using it as well. And this is used to align business activities to the vision and of the of the organization and measuring overall performance towards how you’re approaching our goals and other models and business methods are important as well as of course, there’s a number of them and a lot of people know about them. Project management, stakeholder mapping, SWOT analysis, scenario analysis, we won’t cover all of them just because of the time we have today. But before issues management, I’ll just give a quick as an example later on, because I think it’s very key sort of tool for GRS, specifically. So I’ll go over the five P’s and the balanced scorecard in more depth. So Mintzberg, five P’s, they stand for plan, Floyd pattern, position, and perspective. And gr can really leverage these and when elaborating strategies, if you elaborate a strategy from the perspective of these five P’s, that can be really advantageous. The first P is planning is the most common approach strategy, right? You brainstorm options and ideas, and you plan on how to deliver on goals, then Pajara, particularly, it’s very important, as I mentioned before, to take the flexibility into account, given how unpredictable forces in the political environment can be. The second P is a ploy. And it’s sometimes view of a sort of a negative lens. It’s about influencing, discouraging, or mitigating or competition. And, and, you know, in advocacy in gr, we’re often confronted by other organizations that are posing our policy issues. And a great example of that is cancer lung organizations versus the tobacco industry. But plot, I think we’re deployed doesn’t really necessarily have to mean that you want to defeat your opposition, I think in gr you know, it’s very important to find common ground with your opposition. And I’ve seen even seeing cancer and lung organizations work together in tobacco industry, to work together on on key initiatives. So that’s a very important aspect NGR. The third one is pattern. And pattern approaches strategy occurs when, you know, a repeated action naturally becomes part of your strategy. And that’s kind of the concept. And it’s particularly important for gr where gr professionals advocacy professionals can try to predict from past experience, how governments or political actors may behave in a given situation or scenario. And position has to do with how your organization positions itself. In the environment, the political environment in favor posed or working in collaboration with other organizations are taking the lead on certain issues. And finally, perspective has to do with the importance of an organization’s overall objectives and mission. And it’s about adopting a holistic view when planning which is very important for gr. And the balanced scorecard. Again, a very common approach for businesses in terms of developing strategies. There’s four elements, which I’ll cover very quickly. The first one is the financial perspective, has to do with revenue, reducing expenses, increasing productivity, reducing risks, it’s all about return on investment. There’s the customer perspective has to do with market share corporate reputation, product quality. The learning perspective has to do with team skills, HR, motivation, productivity, and finally, the internal process, perspective SQF marketing, manufacturing, logistics, communications innovation, so for so for each of these perspectives, what people do is they create strategic objectives for each of them. And we’re following all of these strategic objectives in each perspective, working towards helping your organization achieve its overall mission and objectives. So as I mentioned, the balanced scorecard is focused for businesses and when applying to gr there may be some you know, massaging or adapting that needs to be done. And for Government Relations, it’ll the balanced scorecard method will vary. Pretty much depending on on each organization, it’ll depend on, you know, what are your strengths? What are your weaknesses, the current opportunities and threats that are out there, your capacity, your internal resources in your vault or World Mission will largely dictate how this will look like. So what I attempted to do is I put together a quick example of how the SCR balanced scorecard can be applied for Government Relations. And I hope you can read that but I’ll go over each of those strategic objectives. One by one. And this is an example of the balanced scorecard applied to Jr for an association based membership and but this can look very different from other types of organizations say you’re in business, right? If you’re representing Amazon this will look very different from you know, a membership based organization such as an association. So just an example just to illustrate all of this a bit more the the stakeholder perspective, which you know, in businesses, the customer perspective and Jr, you can, you know, transform it to stakeholders. Depending on your organization, you can have a strategic objective of having the government rely on you for your expertise. Your members being viewing your advocacy as a core lever, to your mandate, stakeholders viewing you as a top lobbyist or thought leader in the space, pretty institutional perspective, which is the financial perspective in business, you can look at having your advocacy contribute to membership growth, which will bring your association revenue, you can look at mitigating political risk for your members, depending on you know, what your issues are having or having your issues adopted by the government or even by the sector you’re working in. For the process perspective, you can have a couple of strategic objectives. And a couple of examples are, you know, establishing that you want positive relationships with government and allies, having frequent frequent communications with government minimizing missed engagement opportunities, with government and stakeholders, ensuring them members, your members can engage in advocacy, providing them providing them with the right tools and resources. And the last perspective learning capacity, you can ask the teacher strategic objectives around fewer strategy recalibrations. So you’re learning from you know, as you go, you’re having to be adjust your strategy less and less. If your organization doesn’t really, you know, doesn’t have a good response time to government consultations, you can have a strategic objective around making that response time better. You can have an objective of your advocacy support is growing every year. So you’re building capacity, and also securing annual funding as it relates to your internal capacity. So this is just an example I hope it illustrates, you know, this whole concept a little bit more. For the KPIs key performance indicators and metrics, what you’ll want to do is create those KPIs and metrics and tie them to each strategic objective. So you know, you’re so that way you can measure your performance over time knowing that you’re reaching your strategic objectives. And I’ll go over that in a second. But just, you know, to wrap up the whole strategy, thinking part of this talk, I just want to go very quickly over issues management and NGR. And advocacy, that’s a very important concept and ability or, you know, skill even to have. And there’s all sorts of different business tools or methods you can apply. But here’s just a very quick example of how you can you know, strategize and organize your issues, by categorizing them in terms of how they impact your finances, your reputation, how much of a priority it is for you, and and what’s your, you know, overall strategy for each issue? Are you taking lead? Or you’re just supporting these issues and letting others in this in the space? Take the lead? Or do you want to just keep an eye on the issue, right, and monitor for engagement opportunities or any red flags. So, like I said, After engaging in strategic thinking, and after you establish your strategic objectives, you’ll want to apply KPIs and metrics to each of those strategic objectives so that you can measure your performance. So what I’ll do now is I’ll just provide some very quick these are just examples, right, for each perspective of how or what KPIs and metrics can look like. So and the institutional or financial perspective. KPIs and metrics can look like, you know the number of hostile bills that are defeated or delayed every year, the rates of your preferred legislative outcomes like amendments or you know, or even defeating or delaying or past his job bill. The increased membership that you gain as a direct result of your advocacy maybe people are signing up for you for now because to campaign but at the same time, they’re becoming a member of your organization. The number of asks adopted by governments or the industry work within how often an issue is raised in Parliament. Look, you know, like if you’re working, I know, I work around, you know, health care and nursing burnout and nursing shortages. So you can track how many times the word nursing shortages appear, or, or sad during question period, or speeches in the house, or the Senate or committees obtaining or maintaining any financial benefits. Well, you know, could be through legislation or regulations, and changes to legislation that result in reduced business costs or new revenue. These are just some examples of, you know, the, on the institutional perspective. On the stakeholder front, you can have metrics looking like stakeholder scoring, you can ever you can sit down and look at your stakeholder map and, and categorize them as supporters, you know, opposition or them being neutral. And every year, you can look at the rates of, you know, the conversion rates, how many neutral stakeholders were able to convert to supporters, right. And vice versa. Your organizational scoring and surveys, you can do surveys with your membership you can do surveys with, I’ve even seen it done with political staff on the hill, for example, asking political staff to rate your, you know, your organization’s lobbying efforts. And you can track that every year, for example, being consulted on government, by government on policies before they draft it, that’s a really big one. The ratio of meetings prompted by government, the number of interviews, you’re doing media a number of times, you’re appearing in media articles, invitations to be you know, speakers, or Keynote, industry or sector events. For the process perspective, you can look at the percentage of positive negative or neutral meetings you’re having with governments, number of Miss proposed legislation of interest, that’s when you know, you don’t see a bill being introduced. And all of a sudden, it’s at third reading in the house and you miss the whole chunk of engagement opportunity. So you want that number to be closer to zero or zero, obviously, number, the same concept, number of Miss submission deadlines, rate of accepted government meetings, public participation in your advocacy campaigns, you know, a number of advocacy supporters that are sending letters to their MPs or, you know, social media numbers and shares and retweets and whatnot. And finally, the learning and capacity perspective, you can look at having reduced expenses with gr ferns, you know, building your own team’s internal capacity and not relying on external support, number of reviews to advocacy documents by senior management, right if your CEO or president isn’t approving our position statements that you’re drafting errors, response time to consultations, expenses of training and development, number of new signups to advocacy campaigns, building our capacity, and how many times your strategy needs to be needed to be shifted or recalibrated. So again, these are just some examples, right? It’s not at all an exhaustive list. But just to kind of serve as I guess, inspiration for those on this talk on call today. And just to wrap this up, just a couple of key takeaways from all of this, advocacy strategies, evaluation, and success will look very different and unique for each organization. It’ll depend, you know, if you’re a corporation, an association and nonprofits all of these things will look very different. I focus on measuring the journey and the destination is very important, I think. In addition to demonstrating progress, you can reduce the risk of deeming your whole effort as failure if your goals are not achieved, because you’re, you’re achieving those interim goals and interim results. They can help you demonstrate ROI and return on investment. And, and, you know, even evaluating campaigns in the middle of your advocacy can help you recalibrate and yield the best outcomes. And, you know, it’s important to not rely on one metric. As we’ve seen, the reality of lobbying and influence there’s a multitude of different pressure points and influences. And it makes sense to evaluate an advocacy outcome by using different metrics and approaches to validation of as I’ve covered today. And, and finally, it’s very important to tie your gr goals specifically to your organization’s overall mission and goals, so that you’re speaking the same language as your organization. So that’s about it that I had for today. I hope this all made sense and happy to take any questions on my emails there. In case you want to send me any questions or want to have a quick chat, we’re happy to engage. And that’s all I had done.
Tan Sukhera 25:23
Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Lucas, that was fantastic and really informative. I thought it was beautifully put together as well. So it’s timed out for the last five minutes where we can go through some q&a. Let’s take a look at the first question that’s come in here. So the first question is, how can companies, businesses or industries actually measure the financial impact of government decisions?
Lucas Viega 25:49
Yeah, I think that that will depend a lot on what is the business specifically. But you, for example, depending on the case, a new law can be passed, for example, which completely changes the business environment. And because of that, you’re able to undertake new business activities which brings, which could bring through new revenue, and then that direct new revenue is what you’ve calculated in terms of what the new legislation brought in terms of for additional revenue, or it could also mean, a change to tax laws or regulations that reduce your business’s tax, taxation obligations, and that can also be calculated in terms of additional revenue being brought by jar activity, right? It’s the advocacy jar activities that were were undertaken, or the efforts that were made to pass that new law or change the tax law, for example.
Tan Sukhera 26:49
And then the next question here is, do you believe that tracking the number of meetings with government can be a key indicator for gr success?
Lucas Viega 26:58
I think it can be, but like I said, the end there. Jerry metrics shouldn’t be really summarizing to only one geometric, you shouldn’t be looking at only one. So you shouldn’t be only looking at the number of meetings, you’re dealing with governments. It’s like the other example I gave is you’re doing meetings, but also looking at the rate of meetings that are being accepted by government, or even the number of meetings that were prompted by government. Or you can sit down every month and kind of categorize or classify each meeting. You know, from a scale of one to five, how supportive was the Member of Parliament or senator or politician or political staff that you met with? So I, I think it’s a can be a good metric, but it shouldn’t be implemented just by itself.
Tan Sukhera 27:51
Now, if there’s no other questions, then thank you so much. For everybody who’s joining us this afternoon. Really appreciate it. Thank you again, Lucas, for awesome talk. I just want to wish everybody an awesome, awesome afternoon ahead.
Lucas Viega 28:06
Thank you so much, Tan. And thank you, everyone.