Definitions provide a valuable structure for internal discussion at governance, management or operational levels of activity, where:
- misinterpretation or misunderstanding may arise on key terms, concepts or practices,
- orientation and induction of new people at any of these levels is being planned,
- discussion gets ‘bogged down’ on details or differences – the process of agreeing on definitions can positively re-focus a discussion, or
- doubts arise as to implications of some options.
Here are seven definitions that relate to governance and management:
A statement of principles or standards of conduct which guide any decision making in relation to processes, activities and initiatives which happen, or are expected to happen, frequently. Properly developed and communicated, policies ensure a consistent approach and value to all frequent processes, activities and initiatives. Most importantly, policies must reflect the philosophy and purpose of the organisation.
- the process of policy development is almost as important as the policies themselves. Being such an important part of an organisation’s governance, management and operation, policy development should be closely linked with improved work practices.
A series of actions which produce a change or a development: the ‘how’ of governance, management and operation.
Detailed implementation guidelines, methods or instructions to be followed in specific circumstances, setting out who does what, in what manner, and in what sequence:
- procedures can be either mandatory or discretionary.
A usual or customary action – the way in which something is actually happening or being done:
- quite often the practice differs from the written policy – this may be the result of ignorance, lack of skill or understanding, lack of commitment, a simple slip in standards or at worst a determined effort to render the written policies and procedures ineffective
- care needs to be taken that practices are aligned with policies and procedures, a major requirement in accreditation, performance, quality or risk audits.
Protocols explain the agreement upon which the delivery of particular services will be provided by Organisation A to Organisation B, or to the clients/service-users/customers of Organisation B:
- the purpose of protocols is to ensure a consistent quality and standard of procedure, so that a consistent and replicable quality of service delivery can be delivered. Protocol agreements are a quality tool.
A detailed method of examining possibilities for action or direction, then choosing specific steps and stages to achieve the chosen action or direction:
- planning allows an organisation to become aware of future needs, opportunities and trends – and to avoid dangers and difficulties in achieving the purpose and goals of the organisation.
The process of reducing ‘possible’ alternatives to selected and specific courses of action over a three to five year period, which are most likely to achieve and enrich the purpose for which the organisation exists.