Facebook, Lloyds Bank, Sainsbury's, Oxfam, your university, the government, your local council:- Day in, day out, these organisations - and a myriad of others - establish policies, protocols and standard procedures which affect the public, their customers, the environment and/or their profitability. Their staff give advice to senior decision makers. But policy advisers are often under considerable pressure to cut corners - and it is also seldom easy for policy staff to 'speak truth to power'. So subsequent decisions are often flawed - and sometimes catastrophically so.
Policy making is therefore often difficult and frustrating, whether in government or in business. It can feel like a game of snakes and ladders in which occasional rapid process up the policy ladder is all too often followed by rapid descent down the snake of an unforeseen problem. The purpose of this website is to help you navigate your way up this board and implement successful polices. It accordingly:-
- explores the policy making process,
- discusses the difficulty of 'speaking truth to power, and
- offers practical real world advice on leading and managing policy teams and on personal effectiveness
It also offers more detailed advice for those who want to influence government policy from outside, and for those who want to understand EU policy making
You can access most of the documents on this website via the menus in the grey boxes below. There is also a comprehensive online library and this online search facility:
Those interested in other aspects of government might like to investigate other Understanding Government websites which look at the UK civil service and regulation.
Here are notes on the many reasons why everyone finds it difficult to speak truth to power.
Here is some good advice on how to overcome the problems listed in the grey box to the left.
- How to Offer Persuasive Advice
- Offering and Receiving Challenge - Great Advice from the Military
- The duty to make profits does not override companies' ethical responsibilities - Fiduciary Duty & all that
But remember that ...
Civil Service Ethics
My Understanding the UK Civil Service website contains a number of pages discussing the respective duties of Ministers and officials, and whether it is ever permissible for a British civil servant to say "No! Minister".
Not all terrible decisions are taken by over-powerful men and women. The organisation and culture of large organisations are often to blame.
This Is What Happens When Truth Is Not Told
Here are some recent examples of ...
Those planning major projects seem particularly vulnerable to acquiescing in their bosses' over-optimistic budgets and timescales:-
And leaders need to communicate their values to their teams. Netflix's Values are a good place to start.
Policy Making - Useful Checklists & Reports
Here are four very useful checklists and sets of questions which should be thought about before embarking on, and whilst designing, significant new policies or changes of direction:
- These World Class Policy Tests - were first distributed in 2013 and encapsulate much of the advice in this website about policy development – and more besides.
- Do you have Big Hairy Audacious Goals? This is a list of six key questions which policy makers should address before announcing ambitious (audacious even) initiatives
- A Policy Checklist - is an earlier, simpler version of the World Class Policy Tests mentioned above.
- The X Factors: An admirably brief Whitehall & Industry Group publication listing the Key Factors that underlie Good Decision-Making.
And, although aimed at a military audience, The Good Operation offers great advice and checklists for those involved in operational policy-making.
Here are some other reports which contain much valuable and detailed analysis and advice:
- Professional Policy Making for the Twenty First Century
- Modern Policy-Making: Ensuring Policies Deliver Value for Money
- Better Policy-Making: Examples of good policy-making and sound advice from practitioners
- Better Policy Delivery and Design
- Policy Making in the Real World
- Making Policy Stick
- Making Policy Better
- Better Public Services through Experimental Government
- How to Influence Policy - Advice for Academics etc.
- And click here to read my advice to civil servants who are being lobbied.
The European Union
It remains hard, even after Brexit, to identify a policy area that could never become the subject of a discussion at the European level. The links below give basic post-Brexit advice on working effectively in Europe.
Further information About this website, and Contact information, is here.
My blog is here and a link to my Twitter feed is in the footer below.