Identify your “why”. To set your effort up for success, the “why” of your technical transfer effort will clearly define the management needs and audience. The pathways to identifying these components vary. You might first identify a management need and then an audience with influence on the associated management challenge, or you might be asked by a specific audience for help on a given management problem. Another pathway is planning technical transfer for a co-produced science effort to ensure end products have manager buy-in and input. Your “why” will help those involved understand the importance of the effort, will inform your “what”, and will provide guidance for evaluating progress towards desired outcomes.
Determine the management needs. These needs must be able to be addressed through technical transfer, such as situations where there are barriers to accessing, interpreting, integrating, and/or applying management-relevant information. Examine the cultural, social, and institutional context of those needs and use this information in your planning. For example, substantial remotely- sensed spatial datasets exist for invasive annual grasses, but they may not be integrated into agency planning due to a lack of internal capacity to identify and access appropriate data sources, understand the applications and limitations of the data, and determine how to use it to inform management decisions. Understanding which, or all, of these three needs to be addressed with tech transfer will dictate different audiences, tactics or approaches.
Define your audience. The audience informs the approach and tactics used to reach technical transfer goals. Consider how you might plan a hike differently if you were leading a group of kindergartners versus a group of rangeland scientists. Large technical transfer efforts can engage multiple audiences, but tailor each action to a specific audience’s needs and to the proficiency level they require (Figure).
Assess audience readiness. Consider the relationships needed to effectively work with the audience, and assess if your efforts are excluding any stakeholder groups. Build and grow relationships with the audience early and often throughout the technical transfer process. Leverage the relational capital of others when needed. Consider if there are interpersonal or interorganizational dynamics within the audience that will impact the technical transfer effort and adjust accordingly. Consider the potential impacts of having the right messenger deliver the right message at the right time.
Spell out what success looks like. With the “why” in mind, identify desired outcomes for the technical transfer effort. We suggest a process that fits within the group’s planning framework, from a simple conversation about desired outcomes to identifying specific goals and objectives. Success for technical transfer efforts takes on many colors. It might look like a rangeland specialist feeling more confident in undergoing a planning effort, a group of managers learning a new skill, or a collaborative group effectively using maps as a discussion-support tool. It could also be successful delivery and application of a co-produced science product to relevant end users. Usually, it involves helping the audience increase their proficiency in some way (Figure).
Build out a technical transfer approach. Design an approach to technical transfer (the “what”) that is informed by the management need, audience, and desired outcomes. Consider relationships needed, appropriate and effective messengers, the level of proficiency the audience needs, synergy with other efforts, and possible formats that could achieve desired outcomes. Refer to the Proficiency Pyramid, which helps technical transfer practitioners to match the level of engagement to the desired level of proficiency for an audience (Figure). Hosting a webinar may help many people to gain awareness, but it will not likely result in the audience implementing a new practice that requires the development of technical skills. By contrast, working closely with a small group to address specific questions and build skills may be more appropriate for getting your audience to take action, but reaches a smaller number of people.