Practical to implement
We work with those involved in implementation and try out multiple options, so we have a practical solution and a plan for evaluation.
- Solution(s) that will lead to the desired policy outcomes.
- Explored and tested multiple options, and evaluated them with genuine input from implementers and end users.
- Been clear that the policy can work in the real world.
- Considered the long-term impacts, perverse incentives and unintended outcomes.
- Evaluation “baked in” from the outset, and linked to policy outcomes.
- Solutions that have not been tested - you don’t know whether they can work in the real world or if they’ll lead to desired outcome.
- Advice developed by experts without input from end users or implementers.
- Consultation done to tick a box, without genuine input.
What does it mean to be practical to implement
We often involve implementers too late in the process, meaning our advice might not be workable. Advice that’s practical to implement involves collaborating with implementers early to test multiple solutions to understand what works best.
Solution(s) that will lead to the desired policy outcomes
It can be easy to get stuck in the weeds of your policy problem and focus on doing the things that are most achievable or the same things you usually do. And that’s not a bad thing, so long as you check back in that those things are solving the problem, and will get the outcome that’s needed. It’s important not to lose sight of what the policy is trying to achieve.
Exploring and testing multiple options, and evaluating them with genuine input from implementers and end users
It’s possible you’ve been involved in a project where a proposed solution is implemented only to find out afterwards it doesn’t really solve the problem, or it caused a whole other set of headaches. Even if we have a solution in mind at the start, as we learn more about the problem we find other and potentially better options. It’s very rare that our first idea is the best idea - so we need to have lots of ideas, and explore those ideas with the people who they’re going to impact, and allow ourselves room to make adjustments to get the best result.
Being clear that the policy can work in the real world
A good policy is one that’s implemented and works. The very best theoretical solution might look nice and feel good, but it’s not a lot of use. And the only way you’re going to find out if it will work is try it out. This means understanding how things like finances and resources are going to work and where the problems might be, and how your policy advice is going to be received. Some of this can be done through analysis, but some of it needs to be tested with those involved in the real world application. Testing the ideas contained in your policy is a risk mitigation strategy - you want to quickly identify challenges and roadblocks so you can address them before implementation.
Considering the long-term impacts, perverse incentives and unintended outcomes
Every action has a reaction. Some of the reactions are expected, they’re the reason you’re doing your policy in the first place. But there’s likely to be some you either hadn’t predicted or didn’t want. Identifying those early, and making sure you understand their significance, is critical to good policy advice.
Evaluation is “baked in” from the outset, and linked to policy outcomes
We all know evaluation is important, and yet we also acknowledge it’s not done well in the APS. There’s whole programs of work about doing this better, and we’re not going to try and replicate them here. We just want to make sure you’re thinking about and planning for evaluation early, and doing it with a clear understanding
of what you’re trying to achieve.