[Editor's note: this post has been written by Courtney Tolmie and Ray Struyk. It is part of a series of posts that will be published via On Think Tanks to present the progress and draft chapters of a new book by Ray Struyk on managing think tanks.]
Becoming a highly effective think tank requires more than just producing quality research and having robust policy engagement. High-performing think tanks seeking to improve development policies, conditions and discourses, also need to exhibit and engage in strong management practices.
In Improving Think Tank Management: Practical Guidance for Think Tanks, Research Advocacy NGOs and Their Funders, a comprehensive revision and reorientation of the 2006 second edition of the widely used and respected Managing Think Tanks: Practical Guidance for Maturing Organizations, author Raymond Struyk in collaboration with the Results for Development Institute will present insightful support for global think tanks to become resilient policy-influencers by giving sufficient attention to the nuts and bolts – including staff productivity, finances, knowledge capture, M&E, quality control – behind their day-to-day research and communications functions.
While other resources on management exist, these are often scattered and disparate. Moreover, there are living examples of think tanks effectively handling such situations but whose experiences are not being shared as widely as they could. With an eye on these challenges, Improving Think Tank Management aims to be a systematic, inclusive and integrated source of guidance for think tanks.
The new publication will retain the general structure and strengths of the original “Managing Think Tanks” but will also incorporate important adjustments including broader and more diverse coverage from think tank experiences and resources, actionable takeaways for think tanks to adopt, and innovative and interactive dissemination.
Improving Think Tank Management’s goal is to demonstrate that improvements to management are possible and carry significant rewards while negligence is only a recipe for looming major problems. The book will be published in 2014 and has been generously funded by the William and Hewlett Foundation for widespread dissemination and possible translation into different languages.
Collaborating with think tanks and On Think Tanks
To make this guide as useful to think tanks as possible, we will be seeking input from think tanks using two major channels:
First we will be commissioning short case studies to highlight the experience of think tanks in key areas of management, including quality control, hiring practices, and monitoring performance. Commissioned case studies will be included in the book, and authors will be credited for their contribution. Further a small honorarium will be provided to those selected to prepare case studies.
Second, draft chapters of the book will be posted online for comment and feedback from think tanks. While the final book will also be available online for free download, the draft chapters will provide think tanks, donors, and those working on improving policy research institutions with an opportunity to share experiences and mold the final guide into a product that will be most useful for them in their management practices.
Both the call for case studies and the draft chapters will be made available on On Think Tanks later in 2013 and 2014 respectively. The Results for Development team, led by Courtney Tolmie, and Ray Struyk look forward to engaging with many members of the On Think Tanks community as we develop this exciting new work.