Talk:Policy register

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Working on compiling policy decisions into a single place. The idea here is to have our policies reviewable (so that they can be easily referred to and so they can be reviewed regularly). Priority in the project to date has been finding and compiling policies put in place since the adoption of the 2011 governance proposal.

Developing policy for the policy register

From People's Food Cooperative Policy Register 1.0, rev 7/25/09, Appendix 5.1, "Suggestions for working on policies"

Work from the broadest level possible and move to more specific levels only as needed to be able to accept any reasonable interpretation.
As you create additional layers of specificity be aware that you are working within the context created by the broader policies. Review your awareness of this by always reviewing policies from the broadest level and then moving into more specific layers.
Work as if:
  • All the other policies exist.
  • You know how each policy will fit with other policies.
  • Whatever the policy says, it can be effectively monitored.
  • Each word is worth a lot of money.
Work to get agreement on values and concepts as a board.

The first of those "work as if"s is a key thing to remember. Each of the board's decisions should be made in the context of all previous decisions, avoiding duplication, contradiction, and overlap. Also, overly specific policies should be avoided; the board's job is the high-level governance of the organization, not tying the hands of the staff who are charged with operational decisions.

Note in relation to Policy Governance®

My work on this has been inspired by the policy register and practices of People's Coop, which uses Policy Governance®, and by the encouragement of a member of the Alberta Coop board of directors, another Policy Governance®-based organization. This is despite the fact that Free Geek has not adopted Policy Governance®, and that the creator thereof clearly states that it is not a set of tips or best practices for "piecemeal improvement." Therefore, any problems with the implementation of this should not be laid at the feet of the model, but rather my own undereducated enthusiasm and desire to at least systematize a little. More notes on the model in relation to Free Geek are in the archives for the ASG list (which are private for some reason, sorry).

Updating this document

  • Items added to this document should always have links to the relevant minutes or email messages in which the policy decision was announced or made.
  • There needs to be a commitment to update this document each time a policy decision is made.
  • Page includes (format: {{:Page title}}) can be a useful way to include a policy but also allow space elsewhere for some elaboration, explanation, and history of it. That policy can have its own page, with everything but the actual ratified policy separated out with <noinclude> tags. That page should be linked to in the heading. This may seem overly complicated, but it is better not to have multiple versions in different places!
  • Proposed policy or policy that needs work to make it fit into the context of the register should be clearly marked as such.
  • The current organization scheme is a first pass of a draft based on the policies that were found, is not part of policy, and should probably be critically examined at some point.