Risk e-Views Vol 50: Risk Leadership: What is the purpose of a policy or a framework?

Risk Leadership: What is the purpose of a policy or a framework?

I have seen many, many corporate policies and frameworks in my time.  The one great tendency of the authors of policies and frameworks is to put way too much information into them.

The other day I decided to sit down and sort out the difference between a policy, a framework and “the rest” of the information that one needs to provide so that the intent of the policy can be fulfilled.  I hope this helps clear it up in your head if you are not as clear as you would like to be.



A policy is positioned at the organisational level and aligns to the purpose of the organisation.  It provides direction and should reflect the high level wisdom that the policy will imbue on the organisation, your staff and your other stakeholders.



A framework is positioned at the function level such as the HR function or the Risk function.  It takes the direction given in the policy and provides a road map for managers and staff to follow by providing them with the fundamental knowledge required to work towards delivering on the intent of the policy.



The manuals or guides or workbooks or whatever else you wish to call them are positioned in the engine room of the organisation where the hard work is being done.  They provide the information staff require to fulfil the intent of the policy utilising the road map that is the framework.  In other words they are the detailed instructions (manual) that go with the road map (framework) as staff head off in the direction they have been set (policy).


Just in case this helps as well, in my experience a good policy is 1 to 2 pages, a framework is 5 to 15 pages and a manual has as many pages or volumes as you require depending on what you need to ensure success.  No more, no less.