Understanding Policy Making

The web page offers advice, analysis and consolation for policy advisers, whether in large businesses or in government.

Why consolation? Policy making is 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.

Policy advisers and their decision-making bosses have different incentives and objectives. Advisers want to design policies that work, that are properly planned and that are well resourced. Most decision makers - whether senior executives or politicians - want rapid results at minimum cost, and are strongly incentivised to impress their senior colleagues or impress voters at the next election.

Decision makers also seldom have the time or inclination to understand the detail. Much of their decision making may be based on intuition and gut feeling, or even half-remembered and possibly long discredited theories. Experts are indispensable but annoying. It is seldom easy for policy staff to 'speak truth to power'.

This web site explores these issues in some detail and offers advice to policy makers and those who who would wish to influence policy decisions. It has three main sections.

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 sister websites which will help you Understand the Civil Service and Understand Regulation.