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This report focuses on an element of the change in the context of the organisation. The organisation selected was Amnesty International Ireland, is a non-governmental organisation focused on human rights with over 3 million members and supporters around the world.
First of all, I will make a small introduction about AI, the members, actions, tasks and objectives. We are going to focus on the case diagnosis and after will talk about the organization.
I will explain any problems facing the organization. I'm going to focus on one aspect of organizational change that is taking place within Amnesty International.
Amnesty International Council adopted a strategic plan for six years. The AI's integrated strategic plan 2010 to 2016 has 18 different topics concerning their future goals. Within this plan is collected Amnesty organizational strategy, including in its program "Moving Closer to the Ground".
I´m going to focus on one process change included in its program communicating effectively.
The research for this report was conducted through Interviews with representative of UCC Amnesty International society and the local Amnesty International group of Cork City.
AI has many problems in relation with this issue like communication with people, communication between members of the organization, communication between local groups that exist and communication with the younger generation.
I will use the change Kaleidoscope to know how understand the change process taking place on AI.
Later to explain the Kaleidoscope change, I will show the changes taking place in Amnesty International according to the responses of both groups. The changes that are taking place are about the subject of communicating effectively.
Finally I will make various recommendations to help Amnesty International to anticipate change context.
The last point of this report will be a small conclusion where I will talk about the global context of Amnesty International.
Amnesty International is a non-governmental organization (NGO), it's a worldwide movement of people which aims to contribute to respect for human rights.
British lawyer Peter Benenson (1921-2005) was the founder of this NGO in 1961 and its main objective is to advocate for all human rights recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights signed by many nations in 1948, all around the globe.
The headquarters of this institution is located in London, the current Secretary General Salil Shetty calls on more than 3 million activists scattered around 150 countries.
It was founded on October 1, 1962 for the purpose of publicizing cases of breach of human rights and call attention to abuse worldwide.
Among the objectives of Amnesty International (who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1977), are the realization of fair judicial processes, helping people in exile, the elimination of torture, disappearances and the reporting of the release of prisoners of consciousness.
Amnesty International is independent of any government, political ideology or religious creed. It does not support or oppose any government or political system, nor does it support or oppose the views of the victims whose rights it seeks to protect. Their only interest is the impartial protection of human rights.
The organization works on cases from around the world, without dealing with their own country. However, they can work for the abolition of the death penalty and the adequacy of national legislation with international standards on human rights and in preventing refugees being returned to countries where they may be tortured or executed, or become prisoners of conscience.
Amnesty International's vision is of a world in which every person enjoys all the human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights standards. In pursuit of this vision, AI's mission is to undertake research and action focused on preventing and ending grave abuses of the rights to physical and mental integrity, freedom of conscience and expression and freedom from discrimination, in the context of its work to promote all human rights.
The Amnesty International sections and voluntary groups and local networks are fundamental responsible for funding the movement. No funds are sought or accepted from governments for AI's work in documenting and campaigning against human rights violations. Amnesty International is funded through donations from its associate members but does not solicit or receive subsidies from national governments. They seek to maintain an impartial role. Amnesty International Ireland is the country's largest human rights organization with over 15.000 members and supporters.
3. Case Diagnosis
Amnesty International Council adopted a strategic plan for six years. The AI's integrated strategic plan 2010 to 2016 has 18 different topics concerning their future goals. This integrated strategic plan involves change processes useful to analyse.
Within this plan is collected Amnesty organizational strategy, including in its program "Moving Closer to the Ground". This program is one of the most radical changes to how Amnesty International works that has ever been agreed by the movement.
Through this program, Amnesty is trying to take a more committed to the local communities in which human rights can make a tangible difference in the lives of people. As part of that strategy, Amnesty aims to mobilize people and resources, bringing them closer to the people who are trying to help, with less staffing and resources at its Secretariat in London.
There are different change processes which are connected to the issue "Moving closer to the ground", for example, Communicating effectively , Governing effectively, linking the local and global, investing in volunteers, staff, leadership and systems, Building new constituencies and renewing membership.
I'm going to focus on one aspect of organizational change that is taking place in Amnesty International, and included in its program, communicating effectively.
The ability to communicate, persuade and arouse people's action is essential to the fulfillment of human rights program. Amnesty International should communicate their agenda on the topics covered, explain what they are and defend issues in a way that is understandable and accessible, clear and coherent, holders whose rights are in question, its partners, members and supporters.
Amnesty International Ireland currently has problems with respect to the above issues. According to the UCC society and the Cork local group:
Both groups have problems in communicating the action policy. UCC society has no idea about the ISP (Integrated Strategic Plan 2010 to 2016).They are not closely linked with the headquarters. The company has no policy agenda of Amnesty International.
They just give your point of view with debates on the death penalty, for example. Most young people cannot pronounce. They try to discuss other issues but they ignore the general lines to be followed.
AI Cork knows nothing about world politics of Amnesty International. The local coordinator gathers information at the national convention in Dublin, but he is not really aware of the issues, but he is the local coordinator. The group gets most of the orders directly from Dublin (great campaigns, actions, etc.). For the local group it is not important to know all global politics.
Everything is centralized in Dublin. Most events are in Dublin. No connection between UCC society and AI Cork. Unknown society meetings are held.
UCC society is connected to Dublin, where there is a structure dedicated to the students, but not many meetings with the organization. Very occasionally there are meetings in Galway, but usually it is in Dublin.
Dublin is the center of power. The Cork group accept the centralization because in a big organization, hierarchy is needed to organize everything well.
There has been a change of relationship within the organization in the last few years. They have more contact with the coordinator in Galway than with Dublin. However most of the information they get is delivered by Dublin. They don´t talk with them about the topics they are really interested in.
They have trouble communicating with people. Both groups use social media to communicate, but they have problems.
Cork local group use Facebook but not Twitter. Their Facebook group is just for intern members, they wants to avoid too much spam or that someone is posting things in the name of AI although they are not linked with the AI ideas.
UCC society is more active in social media but maybe a source of problem is that the society does not have a website. For them it is suitable to use only Twitter and Facebook.
Society also has problems with the mobile connection. The society is linked with other AI students groups, but they are occasionally linked. They don't organize events across Ireland.
Another issue of concern to both groups within the topic of Communicating effectively is to involve more people in the issues of Amnesty International and awakens the interest of future generations to attract new ideas. Currently AI needs new members with innovative ideas to improve communication and create a new action agenda, clear, easy to understand and common.
To understand the context of change, on communicating effectively, which is conducting Amnesty International, I will use the kaleidoscope change. This was a concept that we studied in class.
The kaleidoscope change is a diagnostic framework. It can be particularly useful to AI to understand the change context or design choices and to plan for the transition.
Time: Long-term view
Preservation: Communication / Behavior change necessary - structure stays mostly untouched
Diversity: It´s a very diverse organization
Capability: Everyone who is working in both groups is able to handle this aspect of change. Not only the heads.
Capacity: Most of the tools are available but not used effectively
Readiness: UCC society wants the change - Local group appreciates the change
Power: The responsible people have great power - They can make positive decisions to improve the Communication process. This issue is very important because AI actions depend on this topic.
Change type/change path: Mixture of incremental change and adaption
Change start-point: It's difficult to select a starting point for this aspect of the change; any starting point would be nice.
Change style: Collaborative style of change.
Change target: a strengthened and involved organizational basis
Change interventions: Most of the interventions would be technical, political and some cultural.
Change roles: Change process is mostly based on good leadership and the decisions adopted.
The research for this report was conducted through Interviews with representative of UCC Amnesty International society and the local Amnesty International group of Cork City.
First information was obtained through an interview with a representative of the UCC society.
The questions asked were:
Who are you? (Members, Actions, Tasks, what are you working on?)
Can you explain the structure of AI in short? Especially where you can find your own group / society within AI?
Do you see co-coordinator or other contact persons? How are your group / society linked with AI?
Does the group / society know the global policy (integrated strategic plan 2010 - 2016)? What are the plans for the organization?
What do you use to communicate effectively?
Did you do something special for the 50th anniversary?
Have you got materials or equipment to campaignâ€¦etc.?
Have you got partners? And how do you raise funds?
Are there training opportunities for your group / society within the AI organization?
Does the group / society more about national or global human right issues?
Do you see certain changes in the last few years? If yes, in which way do you think change is required? Any challenges concerning moving closer to the ground?
The second interview was with the local coordinator of AI Cork, the questions were the same to compare both answers, although in this interview covered topics most important.
All questions and answers are listed in the Appendix.
5. Theory in practice
In this section I will explain the changes taking place in Amnesty International according to the responses of both groups.
The changes that are taking place are about the subject of communicating effectively, and the problems that have previously explained in the section case diagnosis.
The first problem was how the organization could communicate the action policy. AI is trying communicating globally and locally a compelling vision and an engaging invitation to activism to diverse and multi-lingual audiences, maintaining a consistent global visual identity. They are working to pool their agenda for action and that all members of the organization are aware of the issues that are treated. They are sending more letters to be more effective.
The second topic in which they are changing is communication with people. AI is trying making use of information techniques, particularly innovative communications technology, to deliver the messages internally and externally, using communication channels that are accessible to its target groups.
Amnesty constantly adapting its approach and is always one step ahead, taking advantage of the opportunities offered by new technologies. Increase research visits and their frequency. In letters and phone calls began to join telex, fax, email and later social networks.
They are changing the use of letters for use of emailing, easier and less expensive than sending letters.
They have already organized an event where people could put papers in a tree with a human right which really matters for them. Way to collect ideas but also to know what is the most interesting for people, for what they really care.
The third issue is centralization in Dublin. Currently they are trying to organize more events in other places like in Galway. Colm O'Gorman is head of national AI in Ireland. In 2011 he visited all local groups in Ireland to get to know what their concerns are, to get to know their problems and to get to know what they are working on. This measure is carried out to focus not only in Dublin
The last change process in relation with the topic of communicating effectively is the change to attract new generations and ideas. AI is broadening the range of its audiences, particularly among young people to engage a new generation of activists and supporters. They are creating new ways to attract new ideas through consultation.
AI used the 50th anniversary as a platform to communicate with a new generation of human rights activists. They organized street events and parties to claim and, above all, to further mobilize society in the defense of human rights. These events try to make people understand the importance of the struggle for human rights.
Amnesty International needs changes in regard to communication. Amnesty International needs changes in regard to communication. Need to improve communication with people, communication between members of the organization, communication between local groups that exist and communication with the younger generation.
The recommendations can be made about it are many and must start from the base, these recommendations do not imply a change in the organizational structure can be implemented without any change in its organization although they could make small changes like increasing the number of members who make decisions in local groups.
Recommendations to improve communication with the public that would improve would be using social media, such as creating a common website or Facebook group open to all. Should also create new events to obtain the views of people and learn more about the issues that matter to society.
Regarding the communication of its policy, amnesty should be well detailed agenda clearly explain and defend the issues as they do, this would avoid confusion among its members when positioned on a topic.
To avoid the centralization of operations in Dublin and has connection between local groups Amnesty International, the organization should further involve all local groups.
Giving more power to decide on issues that are carried out in Amnesty and that are not only to treat minor issues or to give your opinion.
They should organize more events in all local groups that exist in Ireland. This would be a good way to involve them in the decisions made by AI as a whole.
Other recommendations in this case to improve communication and attract new generations, it's to create attractive events for young people, where they feel good and are so enthusiastic to be able to explain the plans of AI and how important they are for the future.
Should also be more active on social networks and create events or online ads to attract the young. Internet is a useful tool when it comes to communicating with young people.
Amnesty International is one of the largest NGOs in the world in the struggle for human rights.
But like many organizations around the world have problems in different ways and therefore is in a process of change.
To have the knowledge of when to make changes in the organization needs to have good planning, have clearly identified what their faults, identify problems and errors that the organization suffers, and have reflected a focus on the consequences of the change to occur.
The context of change that has been analyzed in this report was communicating effectively.
Amnesty International is trying to improve this aspect, but currently has problems in communicating their agenda, the interaction with members of the organization, the centralization of its operations and communication with the younger generation.
The organization is trying to overcome these problems and changes that will be useful long term visible.
The changing context of this aspect is very important because communication is vital in this NGO. If successful, or at least properly applied some of the changes, the effect on the organization will be very positive.
AI is adopting changes and is on track to make the organization more and more efficient.
http://www.amnesty.org/en/who-we-are/accountability/statute-of-amnesty-international, last updated 23/11/2012
http://www.amnesty.org/en/who-we-are, last updated 23/11/2012
http://www.amnesty.org/sites/impact.amnesty.org/files/POL%2050_002_2010%20Public%20ISP.pdf, last updated 23/11/2012
Hailey, Veronica Hope, and Julia Balogun. "Devising Context Sensitive Approaches to Change: The Example of Glaxo Wellcome". Long Range Planning 35 (2002): 153-78.
Hope Hailey, V. & Balogun, J. (2002). Devising Context Sensitive Approaches to Change: The Case of Glaxo Wellcome, LRP, 35, 155-178
Interviews with representative of UCC Amnesty International society and the local Amnesty International group of Cork City