… to the question, “What should we do?”
We have answers to what we must do. Those are laws and regulations.
And we have answers for how we should do things. We observe, listen, and consult; we engage and design.
Research gives us facts about what we could do, and various approaches to doing it. Analysis tells us whether those approaches are any good or not. They can be qualitative, quantitative, experimental – you name it. But that’s what they do.
Classical thinkers tend to take a holistic approach. They might say that policy answers the question, “How should we live?”. Modern schools tend to be more pragmatic. They might say that we tackle policy issue by issue: “What should we do about this problem?”; “What should we do about this issue?” .
Whether it’s problem solving or something else, a policy brain is the one that gets to the good of the whole – of how we ought to be, together.
Policy gets to the heart of the public good. That’s what it answers.
Stuart Forestell works in Priorities and Planning with the Privy Council office, where he provides advice on issues in the justice, transport, infrastructure, trade, and national security and defence portfolios. He has previously worked in cyber security policy and health policy. His background is in the arts and humanities, with a focus on the philosophy of the ancient Greeks, the modern Germans, and the post-modern French.