NZ Policy Methods Toolbox

… a resource in the Competencies database

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A repository of policy development methods

In 2014 the Government of New Zealand established The Policy Project “to improve the quality of policy advice across government.” In August 2017 it provided a webpage (reference below, link on right) with “the first release” of the Policy Methods Toolbox, noting that:

“The Policy methods toolbox is a repository of policy development methods that helps policy practitioners identify and select the right approach for their policy initiative. This first release of the Toolbox is focused on newer methods. Over time, we will expand the Toolbox to include a range of new and traditional policy development techniques. Our own approaches, such as Start Right, are also be located in the Toolbox.”

See also NZ Policy Skills Framework.

The website notes that there are four main themes in release one of the policy methods toolbox. These are listed below, with the specific tools or concepts enumerated as bullets.

1. Start Right – a light touch approach to making the best start in policy projects. It is backed up by a growing list of tools to make your job easier in these early stages. A beta version of a Start Right guidebook is available as a pdf at The Start Right webpage is at and it lists three constituent tools or concepts, each with its own webpage:

  • Commissioning Conversations – the beginning that provides the initial impetus and information for your policy project.
  • Exploration – the scalable set of initial actions at the early stages of a policy project (including data gathering, analysis and project planning).
  • Green Light – the confirmation (based on your Exploration) of the main parameters to begin your policy project.

2. Behavioural insights – this involves the study of human behaviour, often drawing upon the empirical research in fields including economics, psychology and sociology. The Behavioural insights webpage is at and it lists six constituent tools or concepts, most of which are external to the Policy Project site:

  • EAST Framework – practical tool for policy practitioners to consider applying behavioural insights in their work.
  • Guide to Developing Behavioural Interventions – nine guiding questions to consider when developing behavioural interventions for randomised control trials.
  • Behaviour Change Wheel – University College, UK – practical guide to designing interventions involving behavioural change based on a range of behavioural frameworks.
  • Behavioural Change Models – a summary of different behavioural change models.
  • Behavioural Insights for Education – guide for education policy practitioners to consider the impacts that can be delivered by changing what parents, teachers and children say and do.
  • Behavioural Insights for Health – guide for health policy practitioners to consider the role of behavioural insights in delivering better health outcomes at a lower cost.

3. Design thinking – also known as human-centred design, co-design and participatory design. The Design thinking website is at and it lists are five constituent tools or concepts, each of which has its own webpage:

  • Journey mapping – helps you to understand a person’s experiences by creating a map of their interactions with the system.
  • Role play – helps you understand and prepare for a situation by acting out a scenario with fictional personas.
  • Prototyping – helps you to build ideas for policy options by testing a model and refining it through active user participation.
  • Experience interviews – an inexpensive way to learn from people about their experience of a service or system.
  • Personas – research-based characters that you create to understand the real experiences of people who will use your service or be affected by a policy.

4. Public participation – engaging individuals and groups in the process of policy design and development, including the provision of information, consultation, collaboration and participatory decision-making. The Public participation website is at and it lists five constituent tools and concepts.

  • Informing – including providing information online and offline, providing ‘open data’, live streaming and broadcasting.
  • Consultation – including seeking feedback though working papers and drafts, community forums, group consultation and online consultation.
  • Deliberation – including citizen juries, ‘town halls’, physical and online debates, online discussion forums.
  • Collaboration – including online collaboration, shared workspaces, workshops, ‘design jams’ and ‘hack days’ and community co-design facilities.
  • Participatory decision-making – including plebiscites, online and offline voting.

As of May 2019 one of these tools that has been elaborated on its own webpage: Citizen juries.


Policy methods toolbox, The Policy Project, at, accessed 24 May 2019.

Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified on 24 May 2019.

Images: Policy methods toolbox, The Policy Project, at, accessed 24 May 2019.