As a lawyer, I’ve encountered many policies over many years. I’ve read, reviewed, interpreted and drafted them. I now realise that they were almost all horrible. I’ve seen the light and woken up to a whole new world. The light is this book called Respectful Policies and Directives: How to Write Rules that People Want to Follow.
There are not many people who like policies. There are also a few people who read them. Policies are often ignored and used against people when things go wrong. What I’ve realised is that most policies are simply rotten and deserve all the criticism they get. There is a better way and good policies can be very useful tools to implement controls and manage risk. The book is very clever and has changed my whole outlook on policies.
There is such a thing as a beautiful policy.
Example of a bad and good policy statement
Horrible goes like this “Where it is believed that a formal dispute should be instituted against a third party on behalf of the Company, Legal should be advised before any correspondence is issued to the third party.”
Beautiful looks like “We involve Legal in a dispute with a third party as early as possible in the hope of finding an amicable resolution.”
If you need to review or draft policies, I recommend that you read this book. It will open your eyes to a new way of writing policy statements. We have now started writing all of our policies in-line with it and been doing webinars on having good policies in place. It was hard at first but the results have been worth it. It will take some time to change all your policies to be in line with the book but you have to start somewhere. What we find is that a good policy can go viral – it makes all the other policies look so bad that people just simply want all policies to be like it. The good policy slowly replaces all the bad ones, and before long the organisation has a whole new set of policies.