| ||organisation: Oxford research group|
product: ‘Everyone’s guide to achieving change’ handbook
distribution: worldwide, via internet
context: decisions affecting the most important issues that we face today such as the arms trade, genetic engineering, pollution, debt, nuclear weapons, etc. are ultimately taken by a few key decision-makers in government and business. Most of these individuals work in closed communities within which the rightness of what they are doing is not directly questioned. Serious alternatives are seldom proposed. Apart from hearing local reports of protest such people rarely engage in the arguments for and against what they are doing, much less are they invited on a personal level to involve themselves in discussion of the merits and implications of their activities in today’s world. What can you do to influence them?
what: the Oxford Research Group (ORG) has published “Dialogue With Decision Makers” , an interesting handbook designed to enable you to quickly understand a successful method of dialogue with decision-makers. It is based on the seventeen years’ experience of the ORG working towards the worldwide abolition of nuclear weapons. The main idea is that groups of citizens engage directly, by letter or face to face, with behind-the-scenes decision-makers and policy advisers using a non-confrontational approach. Through this two-way dialogue, change takes place.
why ‘dialogue’: there is a real difference between dialogue and lobbying. The traditional lobbyist works at the decision-maker to get him or her to do something, which will be to the lobbyist's advantage. The dialogue approach works with the decision-maker, engaging him or her to join in a course of action, which will be to everyone's advantage.
success story: the ORG has developed this method through successful dialogue with those in key decision-making positions in the UK, the USA, Russia, China, India and to a lesser extent France. In the 1980s they pioneered a dialogue project in the UK, which linked over 60 citizen groups with a separate nuclear-weapon decision-maker in the UK and one in China. The groups attempted to establish a correspondence with their decision-makers, and in some cases were able to meet them. In 1985 they established a parallel project in the United States which linked concerned citizen groups with thirty American decision-makers, and in 1990 supported a similar project in Sweden, this time with professional groups of medical practitioners writing to French and British nuclear-weapon decision-makers. Their approach has now been adopted by those working for change on different issues all over the world.
sustainability features: the principles of the dialogue approach - outlined in the Ten Steps of the ORG handbook - are relevant to most of the issues mentioned above (even if the examples used are of nuclear weapons decision-making). You will notice that each Action step is balanced by a subsequent Reflection step. By the time you reach the end of this handbook, you will be familiar with the basics of the dialogue with decision-makers approach to change. The handbook, that is periodically updated, can be downloaded as a free PDF file or ordered from the online shop at www.orgshop.org.uk.
Individuals’ engagement in any substantive dialogue with decision-makers is fundamental in order to make a change toward sustainable lifestyles. This handbook gives you a realistic approach to take action. Enjoy the reading!