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Policy Development: Telling a Story When Submitting a Policy for Approval (FON1-J09)


This job aid provides a helpful story-telling outline to use when submitting a Memorandum to Cabinet, making a Treasury Board submission, or submitting policy documents to senior management for approval.

Published: October 7, 2019
Type: Job aid

Policy Development: Telling a Story When Submitting a Policy for Approval

For government business, communicating by using storytelling techniques can be a more compelling and effective route than using dry facts alone. At a minimum, your policy proposal presentation—which can be used in all Cabinet documents—should:

  1. Place evidence and evaluation results front and centre, thereby emphasizing what works and what emerged from a specific lens analysis (e.g. Indigenous and GBA+);
  2. Situate the proposed changes within the larger suite of government priorities, thereby shedding a light on the value gap to be filled, as well as its fit within the broader system;
  3. Identify options for the internal reallocation of funds, so as to ensure continual reallocation of scarce resources away from lower-priority areas; and
  4. Display an accurate and detailed understanding of consultations.

The following tool is meant to help you reflect on the information needed for the development and presentation of a Cabinet document (e.g. Memorandum to Cabinet).

What's the problem?
  • How big is it, who is affected, and how to apply the policy lenses—that is, put a human face to the problem? Why is this happening?
  • What is our evidence? How sure are we?
  • What is the context in which this is happening, the public environment?
Why should the government get involved?
  • Why is it a role for government vs. private action? What is the public interest; what happens if we don't act?
  • Why is it our problem—why not P/T or municipal?
  • Is there room for partnerships? What are the links to the government's agenda?
  • Why now? What is the urgency?
What are we (i.e. governments) already doing?
  • Which jurisdictions? (F, PT, local, other?)
  • Why isn't it working? Poorly conceived? Poor execution? Not enough $? Needs other tools/supports?) Apply a cost-benefit analysis.
So, what do we want to do about it? Is it "implementable"?
  • What looks likely to work? Why do we think that? Apply a cost‐benefit analysis. What do the evaluation reports say about the results?
  • What are the possible "bundles" of activities? How can they shape options?
  • What is our recommendation?
What are the implications/considerations?
  • If we do this, what could happen? (positive and negative effects)
  • Who is affected? What will they think? Will they react?
  • Make sure to describe the impacts using a human face; apply the policy lenses (e.g. GBA+, Indigenous, etc.)
How will we implement and communicate this solution?
  • What are the steps to get up and running? Is there a requirement for legislation/regulation?
  • Are specialized skills required to deliver? Will there be any potential delays?
  • Who needs to know? Why? How will we reach them?
How will we know we've succeeded? What are the performance indicators?

See the Policy Development: Performance Indicators for Effective Policy Analysis job aid for help.

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