Planning a policy

By Dana P Skopal, PhD

When planning or reviewing a policy document, staff may be overwhelmed with information. So who in your organisation really knows the key policy information and its impact on the organisation? When planning a policy, involve those who understand the importance and impact of that policy on the organisation as it can assist the writers. It is easier to write if you understand the ‘why’.

Planning or reviewing a policy requires discussions and information-sharing. These discussions should aim to focus on the staff, as readers, and what information they really need to know. Information overload can mean you will lose your reader, so focus on why that policy is important for the organisation and the key items staff need to know.

As writing involves planning, one effective process is to simply list the five or six key points that staff must know. Plan these key points without looking at the original text, as that way you can clearly explain the information as if you were talking face-to-face. It is important to not follow the legalese and often confusing wording of the regulations.

When planning, place information into logical sections, and provide summary formats so that staff can easily understand the big picture. The summary format, combined with good clear headings, allow you to convey the key points. Next, layer the details behind each main section, so staff can locate the finer points when necessary. Perhaps see this as adding ‘links’ similar to hyperlinks when reading on the web.

This layering approach has been referred to by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner when explaining steps to make the audience aware of a privacy policy ( Good planning enables you to apply this layering approach.


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