The little secret of policymaking

I’ll tell you what I think about Doing Business, but first I need to let you in on a little secret about policymakers.  Here it is: you need to keep it simple for them.

No matter the country or political system, the ability to move policy forward on a national stage depends critically on the policymaker’s ability to forge a consensus among an array of actors (other agency heads, members of parliament, civil society, the media).

And while you can block virtually anything in the policy arena with a blizzard of detail, forging consensus requires just the opposite.  Driving policy consensus often depends critically on boiling the issue down to its essence and saying it again and again and again.

Wise words from Scott Morris.

This is exactly right. It’s also what I find exactly most frustrating about advocacy and policy. Because the simplified idea is often wrong. Sometimes it is wrong but not so bad. But often times the simplified policy change is worse than leaving things alone.

Of course, if your main strategy for social change is to try to steer Leviathan in a less silly direction from within, you face a life of hopeless toil alongside self delusion. I am beginning to think through alternatives, but that will be a longer and future post.

9 thoughts on “The little secret of policymaking

  1. Anarchy!

    Seriously though, that’s a pretty pessimistic take, even if I do sympathise. Leviathan does sometimes make considered evidence-based decisions, and I think overall the trend is probably in that direction, even if recent US politics is going in the opposite direction and is increasingly dominated by people without a reality-based worldview….

  2. My inner snark has been telling me to look for simple, wrong solutions and pillory them. My inner grad student has been telling me to look for complicated, right solutions and try to sell them. So you’re telling me my inner snark and inner grad student are both wrong — it would be most productive to find the simple, right solutions and sell those. But what are they… *consults inner political advisor*