Yes Minister - or is it?

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When a business comes to a hurdle put in its path by Government – such as an old regulation, environmental approvals, or plain old bureaucracy - it’s common to demand an urgent meeting with the Minister or Premier.

At the ensuing meeting, you may receive a positive hearing. Your CEO will be happy to get the ear of an important decision maker. You’ll all feel good after the meeting. But it won’t last long.

The trouble is, while most Ministers are inclined to be helpful, they also have a million other things to do, and they don’t necessarily understand the minutiae of how to fix your issue (either technically or organisationally).

A common mistake in business is to assume that the Minister meeting is the most effective, sometimes the only, government relations strategy. It’s not. Your CEO won’t be happy for long.

In executing an effective government relations strategy, it’s important to work across the many layers of Government to ensure you present your case, your project or your vision to the right people in Government, and show Government how they can work with you to achieve it.

The “right people” may well include the Minister, but often (and very importantly) also include hard working public servants (some senior, some not) who actually do the grunt work, who have to resolve multiple issues, who may be working in a moribund culture, and who have plenty of other work to do.

A practical approach is to develop a considered plan that integrates the political, policy and regulatory environment and has insight into the way Government actually works by understanding the various roles, responsibilities and cultures that influence issues.

Ultimately, your best chance of success lies in demonstrating you understand the drivers, you empathise with the Government’s challenges, and you bring to the table a win-win solution.

Sure, start with the Minister. But that’s only the beginning.