Writing Explicit Policies

Policies define what should be common across an organization, and what should be avoided. The problem is, they are seldom seen by most workers, much less followed intentionally.

The cure is have only the policies that matter the most, and to put them where everyone sees them continuously in their work and, indeed, must follow them to conduct their work.

Writing explicit policies involves creating policies as conditions for moving work forward in a visual controls environment.

Who Does This Practice

All roles in a Lean-Agile organization are involved in this practice.

What To Do


The input can include writing explicit policies include examples of policies and categories used elsewhere in the organization.


  1. Create a visual control that allows you to see what work is in process, and the steps it must go through
  2. Define essential policies as conditions to moving work out of a given work activity, or into a subsequent work activity (e.g., “Acceptance criteria have been written per <guidelines for acceptance criteria writing>, before story moves from “requirements” to “design” column in kanban board)
  3. Enforce the policies on every work item that moves through the process’s visual control


Explicit policies can be written and revised at any time according to management requirements in order to realize new system behaviors. Changes should be done with care and carried out in a Plan-Do-Check-Adjust fashion: making a change and giving time to see the impact.

When To Do This Practice

Explicit policies can be written and revised at any time according to management requirements.


Explicit policies help shape the environment so that work is done consistently in the key areas that determine its quality and suitability.

Policies are necessary, but almost never effective in a traditional environment. A visible and explicit mechanism is the only way to gain the benefits available with good policies.
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