Module 5: Implementing Policy

Module 5 provides information on the key aspects of policy implementation, including education, communication and change management. The following topics are covered in Module 5:

  • Defining roles and responsibilities
  • Creating an implementation plan
  • Importance of communication in implementing policy
  • Anticipating and managing risks related to new or revised policies
  • Change management related to policy development and implementation
  • Education methods for policy change

Defining roles and responsibilities

While developing a policy, it is important to recognize and identify key roles or positions within a First Nation that have the ability to support effective implementation. Implementing policy is a shared responsibility within the First Nation and the community. If this shared responsibility is not recognized in the policy development process, then the policy may be challenging to implement.

First Nation Case Study – Upper Nicola Band

The UNB Band Administrator is responsible for oversight of implementation of the four policies related to the FAL 2018. As well, Senior Administrators all play a role in supporting the Band Administrator with implementation of parts of the policies, and they are supported by Junior Administrators. All those involved in implementation have received training to ensure they are aware of their responsibilities.

Creating an implementation plan

An implementation plan forms an integral component of the policy development process, so that final decision making is fully informed by operational and strategic communications considerations. It is crucial that First Nations and communities consider how a policy is to be operationalized during all stages of the policy development process and that this is reviewed on an on-going basis, especially by those who are responsible for it. If done successfully, there should be no surprises for the First Nation or specific departments involved in delivering on the policy.

Sometimes, piloting a policy on a smaller scale can be helpful in identifying issues that might arise during implementation, in gauging community member and client / user responses and in assessing whether the policy may achieve its intended results. The implementation plan details the activities to be undertaken and should consider the following:

  • Further approvals required
  • Tasks / activities to be undertaken during implementation
  • Timelines for implementation
  • Human and financial resource requirements for implementation

Importance of communication in implementing policy

Communication of the policy should be an integral part of the policy development process. A communications plan outlines the policy development process, the purpose and the intended outcomes of a policy. It ensures the First Nation’s decisions are shared with communities and various target audiences.

Communication activities should:

  • Be planned from the start of and continue throughout the policy development process
  • Be based on sound awareness of the political and wider context within which the policy is being developed
  • Be focused on what is likely to be the greatest public interest, highlighting the policy proposal and potential resulting criticisms
  • Target relevant audiences and make use of a range of media and formats in order to reach those audiences
  • Involve all those who may have a part to play in presenting the policy within the First Nation and to the community

First Nation Case Study – Upper Nicola Band

UNB shared updates in the UNB newsletter and on the UNB website after policies were approved. Specific information that affected members was provided on a regular basis. For example, when UNB implemented a schedule to pay accounts payable cheques for medical travel, reimbursements and donations, UNB posted the operational guidelines that were put in place to support the implementation of the UNB Finance Policy.

Anticipating and managing risks related to new or revised policies

Risk identification is the process of determining risks that could potentially prevent a policy from achieving its objectives or hindering its success. The objective of risk identification is the early and continuous identification of events that, if they occur, may have negative or other unintended impacts on the policy development and implementation processes – affecting the ability to achieve a First Nation’s or a community’s objectives. Risks may come from within the process or from external sources.

The key steps in risk identification and management are:

  1. Identifying hazards or threats (i.e. anything that may impact achieving the policy objective)
  2. Deciding who may be harmed or what may be impacted, and how
  3. Assessing the risks and deciding on ways to mitigate those risks
  4. Writing a risk assessment report that summarizes the findings (be sure to append this report to the policy documents)
Risk identification is the process of determining risks that could potentially prevent a policy from achieving its objectives or hindering its success.

Change management related to policy development and implementation

The development of new or revised policies results in change within a First Nation. Policies impact First Nations and their members in many different ways. Recognizing that the implementation of policy creates change can help to build trust in the policy-making process and achieve success. The following are key considerations in recognizing and managing change.

An ‘Early Adopter’ is a person who expresses the value of a new or revised policy in advance of others in the community and provides feedback about the policy and its implementation.

  1. Have a clear vision: Communicate a clear picture of the policy objectives, what success looks like, and the organizational culture required to achieve it.
  2. Influence the right people at the right times: Identify early adopters; get their support for change and their commitment toward being a catalyst.
  3. Leverage what is already working: Identify current initiatives, actions or processes that reinforce the policy. What are the little things that are working that can be easily replicated across the First Nation and the community?
  4. Simplify: Break down the communication into smaller components.
  5. Personalize it: Personalize the impact of a cultural shift; answer the question, “What’s in it for me?” How policy makers think community members may answer this question needs to be incorporated into communication about the policy.
  6. Let people see it: Help Leaders and Senior Administrators visualize the change.
  7. Magnify small wins: Take action on the small things that have the biggest impact first. Highlight areas where collaboration and coordination have already taken place.
  8. Tell the story: Share information from different perspectives. How is the policy positively impacting the community? What is changing as a result of the policy’s implementation?

First Nation Case Study – Upper Nicola Band

UNB’s Senior Administrators linked the relationship between the implementation of policy, UNB’s Strategic Plan and the community’s Mission and Vision. As shown in Figure 2, when implementing the Finance Policy, this clarity assisted UNB with the implementation of the UNB “Economic Opportunity” strategic priority. Further, by implementing this strategic priority, UNB demonstrated that it was implementing its Mission as well as its Vision.

Implementation of our Vision A strong, flourishing community in harmony with our Tmixw
Implementation of UNB Mission Statement Upper Nicola is a proud, inclusive Syilx community working together to promote SuxwtxEm, teach our Captikw and committed to building foundations through En’owkin’wixw.
Implementation of UNB Strategic Plan, “Economic Opportunity” Strategic Priority We will increase our revenues to support services that align to our needs through the development of a balanced portfolio of activities that align to our sustainable environmental values.
Implementation of UNB Financial Policies Provides direction on how we will administer our finances.
Relationships between Policy - Strategic Plan - Our Community's Mission and Vision

Figure 2: Relationships between UNB’s Policy, Strategic Plan, Mission and Vision.

Education methods for policy change

Sharing information and educating citizens about the intent and contents of policy are important in developing understanding and support for the policy change. Several steps for educating community members about new policy and policy changes include the following:

  • Providing information to the community on the main components of the policy in plain language, outlining the benefits and impacts
  • Arranging information sessions to communicate the policy
  • Preparing questions and answers in community newsletters and on community websites
  • Providing regular feedback to community members on policy development