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Commissioning Conversations

Start Right Commissioning

The Start Right question prompts for Commissioning Conversations between senior managers and the manager or policy team can encourage the right behaviours in the early stages of policy development.

It's also known as policy initiation, policy project management, policy start-up.

On this page:

Why you should use it
What it involves
What you will get out of it
Ideal circumstances for use
References and guides and key readings

Why you should use it

A Commissioning Conversation is the best way to initiate a policy project of any size. It provides a trigger to start Exploration, and uncovers important initial information about a policy project. The information you get out of the conversation can be shared between team members or teams working on a policy project together.

What it involves

  • Use your agency’s guidance or the Policy Project’s guide to effective Commissioning Conversations. They can help you consider the most important elements that shape a policy project and determine the quality of the advice.
  • In terms of the Policy Project’s Start Right approach, a Commissioning Conversation kicks off the Start Right Exploration phase. Adopting the right behaviours and continuing to have open conversations at the start helps establish a norm which will improve overall quality if maintained throughout the project.

What you will get out of it

For the commissioning manager:

  • A sense of security that the person charged with leading the initial scoping of the policy project fully understands the context, the task, and key characteristics of the expected outputs.

For the person being commissioned:

  • Reduced uncertainty and stress because you know all the key details for successfully beginning the Exploration phase of the project
  • Less ‘lost in translation’ moments down the track.

Ideal circumstances for use

  • You are initiating or commissioning a smaller or medium sized policy project.
  • You are a policy team manager or analyst receiving a request from a policy commissioner.
  • You are strengthening your organisation’s culture of quality in policy development.


Larger policy projects may still benefit from the Commissioning Conversation prompts, but would benefit from a more bespoke and formal commissioning process (for example through project initiation documentation).

References, guides and key readings

Start Right


Start Right Commissioning Conversation Prompts 

The Commissioning Prompts are a guide for effective Commissioning Conversations. They can help both the senior manager and the person they are commissioning to consider the most important elements that shape a policy project and determine its quality, and the behaviours that support policy quality.


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Last updated: 
Wednesday, 16 August 2017

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