Excuse me, but are you a policy-maker (10 tips)?

It may seemed strange to you, but you and I are, to some extent policy-makers in one way or another in our lives.

For example, when we make decisions on what activities to engage or not engage in when you go out with friends, you are making some policies about activities with friends.

When you decide to stay away from partying and junk food the week before examination, you are making policies on do’s and don’t during that period.

When you got yourself a boyfriend, you also make policy within yourself, boundaries with him – perhaps you will only allow him to hold your hands and nothing more .

When you grow older, you note down more observations, and make conclusions that can affect you perspectives and hence influence your “policy-making” in your life.

So, let’s take a look at some guidelines when you are making policy for yourself, your group, or family, or club, or relationship, or your whatever you want to “police” and “control” for whatever desired outcome that you want to achieve.

Rule 1: Be clear about what you want to achieve at the end of the day.
Sometimes, we put in place strange policies that does not solve the original problem. Worse still, we don’t know what is the real problem, and we, like a doctor with broken knowledge, prescribed broken medicine mix and messed up our policies that fail to solve the problem.

Rule 2: Evaluate and think through the policy objectively.
This means removing all your biases, and your past perceptions, and look at the raw data – yes, raw facts to craft out your policies. Your “success measurement” should also be objective and tied back to the original objectives. e.g. If your policy is to spend less money on clothes, then your success measurement should measure explicitly whether you have indeed cut down your purchase by 30% by the end of 3 months’ period, and not by gut feel.


Rule 3: Consider other people’s policies when making your own.
We don’t live in a vacuum, your life is interconnected with other people; your choice of policy can affect others, and so does other’s policies affect you. It is even more important when you make joint decisions with others to achieve the same goal. If you are on an urgent & important project and your team members cannot meet on Tuesday nights while you prefer Tuesday (so you can catch that Korea drama serial on Wed night), making a decision to meet on Tuesday night is not going to get you anywhere.

Rule 4: Are you sure you need solve this problem?
Sometimes, there is no need to make a policy decision to solve a problem, perhaps it’s too small, too expensive to implement, too impractical to solve or have so low an impact to even have a policy in place. So choose your battle ; don’t impose rules on everything. It can wear you down, and people who are affected by it will throw rotten eggs at you in due time.

Rule 5: Do not rush to make the policy decision.
Sometimes, it’s better to watch and see if policy and rules are really necessary to solve the problem. Are there any other good alternatives other than setting up rules or “policies” to control the situation? Can there be mutual understanding, or a change in the way you do things instead of rules and more rules?

Rule 6: Get evidence and data on the problem first.
Then use these data to decide. Often times, poor decisions could be made based on short-term observations, one single incidents, and even one-off misunderstandings. So, if you really want to impose a policy and want to avoid this mistake, go and get the facts, collect the patterns & trends, and then using them, create an effective solution or policy based on these real data.

Rule 7: Be clear who is responsible for what.
If you want your best friend to make a decision on a matter, make sure you give him/her your empowerment & blessing, and stop pushing the blame when things goes wrong. Don’t go back and state that you never allowed him/her to do that.

Rule 8: Listen to your inner circle friends.
Hear from trusted people within your closed circle to know the root of the problem at hand or your mistakes that you are making. If you don’t let these trusted friends talk to you in a safe & closed environment, you will end up reaping the results of your mistakes – often directly from your enemy in time to come.

Rule 9: Don’t take yourself too seriously.
Sometimes, we suffer from making a bad policy or decision and blame ourselves eternally for it. Know that life is short, and we are not perfect. Learn to take yourself less seriously. Laugh it off . Learn from it. Move on to make better decisions.

Rule 10: Remember all these 9 rules 🙂

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