Clear on intent
We are clear on the policy intent and what our role is, so our advice is relevant and focused on the outcome we’re trying to achieve.
- A clearly defined problem
- Understanding the real reasons for the policy, not just those stated up front
- Being able to articulate why government intervention is needed
- Being clear on the intended outcomes and how they’ll be measured
- Having clarity on scope and timeframes
- Made assumptions about the “why”.
- Done what you’ve been told without understanding the intent.
- A solution without a clear problem.
What does it mean to get Clear on Intent
One of the things we struggle with is understanding the ‘why’ — what is the problem we’re trying to solve and who for, what’s behind the problem, and what outcome we need to achieve. We need to get better at questioning until we’re clear on the intent; and then making sure that intent is carried through the life of the project.
A clearly defined problem
Einstein is reported to have said that if he only had one hour to solve a problem he would spend 55 minutes defining it and the remaining 5 minutes solving it. Whether or not he actually said this, the point is valid. Having a clear, well defined problem gives you a much better chance of finding ways to solve it that will actually work.
Understanding the real reasons for the policy, not just those stated up front
You may be missing the subtext behind a particular policy directive, a reason the policy is needed beyond what’s stated. Policies can be seeded in many ways: a conversation the minister had with a constituent, or a media campaign, or an effective lobbyist, a long-standing issue that’s only just coming to the fore. This might be too sensitive to discuss widely, but understanding where the issue has come from, why it’s important now, puts you in the best position to recommend the most effective course of action.
Being able to articulate why government intervention is needed
You need to be clear on the Government’s role in solving this policy challenge. Sometimes the issue isn’t one the government should intervene in, or it might be more effectively solved in other ways.
Being clear on the intended outcomes and how they’ll be measured
This is about understanding the desired outcome and the impact. Even if a solution is handed to you with the policy challenge, you still need to understand the problem it’s solving and what a good outcome looks like. That will allow you to evaluate the solution, and explore whether other possibilities might be more appropriate. You also need to know where you’re starting from—having a measured baseline is necessary to evaluate success.
Having clarity on scope and timeframes
Good policy advice is timely and relevant. Being clear on the intent will help you use your time wisely, and save time second guessing. It’s also important to understand what’s driving the timeline so you can take that into account. And knowing how long you have will frame everything you do from that point forward. If a response is required in a day, you’ll take a very different approach to something that has a two-year lead time.