Important Notes about PolicyMaker 5

About Saving Data

PolicyMaker 5 uses the HTML 5 feature known as local storage to save your work as you enter data. We strongly recommend that you frequently use the Export feature to save your work as a file locally on your computer's hard disk. The Export button is located on the Welcome or Select Project page. Please try exporting your project before you have entered much data. You can then practice reloading your project using the Import button.

To export your project, click on the Export button. Then, click on the link in the dialog box. The file (with a ".json" extension) can then be named and saved appropriately.

While local storage is useful, it can be erased when you empty your browser's cache or do other operations on your computer. It is also associated with the server from which you opened PolicyMaker. If you use a different server, you will no longer see your projects. Note that it has a limit of approximately 2.5m characters. The Projects button on the Welcome screen can be clicked to view a dialog box listing your current Local Storage projects and an estimate of how much local storage has been used.

PolicyMaker has been tested using Chrome on Macs and PCs. While it may be possible to use PolicyMaker in a limited fashion on a mobile device, we recommend that you practice exporting and importing data. Some mobile operating systems may not allow you to save or easily access downloaded content. In other words, you may not be able to export, import, or share your projects. There may be other problems as well.


Note: PolicyMaker includes an example PolicyMaker project, Clinton's Health Care Reform, to illustrate procedures described in this help page. This sample is not based on a definitive study, but is included as a common reference point for the help page and for users, as an illustrative example of how to apply PolicyMaker. We apologize for any inaccuracies, if any, it may contain. It should be regarded as a work of fiction, not fact.

The example project can be edited in the browser, but your changes are not saved to local storage, nor can it be exported.


The software and help text are provided as is, without warranty of any kind, express or implied, including, but not limited to warrantees of fitness for a particular purpose and noninfringement. Under no circumstances shall the authors or copyright holders be liable for any claim, damages, or other liability arising from, out of, or in connection with the software or the use or other dealings in the software.


Table of Contents

Overview: Policymakers and Political Analysis

These topics provide an overview and context for the PolicyMaker methodology and software. How can it help you solve your policy problem? Why should you use PolicyMaker? What do you need to perform your analysis successfully? They also describe PolicyMaker's advantages and disadvantages and its benefits and risks.

Getting Started

These topics help you become familiar with how to use the essentials of the program.

The PolicyMaker Four-Step Method

These topics cover the four steps of the PolicyMaker method in greater detail and describe how to use the different data entry windows. Once you have a basic understanding how the program works and you have successfully installed it, you can begin to learn how to use PolicyMaker's method.

Summary and Settings

These topics explain how to change settings for your project and display a single-page summary.


Overview: Policymakers and Political Analysis

Overview Topics:

Policymaking is a profoundly political process. Politics affects all aspects of policymaking--what gets on the agenda, who supports an issue, who opposes an issue, how advice is provided and how advice is received, whether an issue receives official approval, and whether the official policy is implemented. In short, policymakers are inevitably involved with politics.

Yet many policymakers do not use a formal method of political analysis. Politicians tend to make decisions based on informed intuition, while policy analysts tend to emphasize technical issues. This software program provides a relatively rapid method for analyzing and managing the politics of policymaking. PolicyMaker makes political analysis both accessible and enjoyable. PolicyMakerprovides what you need as a policymaker and a policy analyst: a logical and formal procedure to analyze the political dimensions of policy change and a systematic method to design effective strategies for managing the politics.

PolicyMaker is a form of Computer-Assisted Political Analysis (CAPA). The software can be applied to any policy problem that involves multiple players with diverging interests. Just as Computer-Aided Design (CAD) assists architects in the design of effective buildings, CAPA helps political analysts in the design of effective policies. In the same way that CAD tools do not tell architects what they want to build, PolicyMaker does not tell you what kind of policy is right or good. PolicyMaker assists you in assessing whether your policy is politically feasible, and suggests ways to make your policy more politically acceptable.

The name PolicyMaker indicates who will find this software useful. Anyone who is concerned with policy, broadly defined, and with policymakers, in all spheres, should find value in the software's analytical method and outputs. The method is applicable to policy issues in the public domain (such as the mega-policies of national economic policy and health policy) and also in the private sector (such as the corporate policies of re-engineering and downsizing). PolicyMakerhelps you analyze the political dimensions of your particular policy and helps you visualize the impacts of different strategies on your policy's future. PolicyMaker helps you win your battles on the policy field.

How PolicyMaker Can Help You

PolicyMakercan help you in three main ways. It can help you:

  • describe the political dimensions of a policy decision,

  • explain how a policy decision was made in the past; and

  • design effective strategies for influencing a policy's feasibility

As a descriptive tool, PolicyMaker provides a method for collecting and organizing important political information that will affect the fate of your policy. Many policy problems involve a degree of complexity that can overwhelm your capacity to keep the issues well organized in your mind.

PolicyMaker helps you collect and organize descriptive information on:

  • The Issue definition and Trend Analysis

  • Key Players: Position and Power

  • Policy Consequences

  • Interests of Players

  • Coalitions of Players

  • Opportunities and Obstacles to Change

In many situations, this political information may be well known to people involved in a policy, but the data are rarely collected or organized systematically. PolicyMaker provides a set of techniques for deciding on the information to collect and for displaying that information in ways that are analytically useful, visually pleasing, and easy to manipulate.

As an explanatory tool, PolicyMaker can help you to:

  • explain how a particular policy was decided in the past

  • explain which strategies were effective in a particular political environment

The policy science literature is full of theoretical models that seek to explain how policy decisions should be made (from a normative perspective) and how such decisions are actually made (from an empirical perspective). PolicyMaker provides a practical model to explain policymaking processes in a real world setting. The PolicyMaker model proposes that policy feasibility is a function of three main factors:

  • the number of players mobilized to support and oppose a policy

  • the power of each mobilized player

  • the position and intensity of commitment for each mobilized player

Applied retrospectively, the PolicyMaker method can help you understand how these three factors shaped the feasibility of a particular policy decision, or how a specific strategy worked in certain political circumstances. By examining the strategies that facilitated or blocked the acceptance of past policies, you can build up your own set of strategies for future action.

Third, PolicyMaker is a prescriptive tool--to help you design and select strategies of influence. PolicyMakercan help you to:

Choose an effective political strategy for:

  • formulating a policy, and

  • implementing a policy

Improve the political feasibility of your policy by:

  • identifying current supporters and opponents

  • identifying potential supporters

  • analyzing the effects of potential strategies

PolicyMaker can help you design strategies for producing change. The PolicyMaker method is a practical technique to analyze and change the factors that affect the feasibility of your policy. The software helps you manage the complexity of real world problems. In short, this program helps you get what you want--by improving your political skills and enhancing the political feasibility of your policy.

The Four Steps of PolicyMaker Analysis

PolicyMaker guides you through four steps of applied political analysis for generating practical strategies on managing the politics of policymaking. These four steps correspond to the first four main buttons on the Main Menu screen. You can follow these steps in a linear fashion (from one to four), or start with later steps and jump around. However, some steps (such as Impacts) require that a previous step be completed (such as Strategies) before you can carry out the analysis. The program advises you of these sequential requirements, as needed.

Step One--Policy

In this step, you identify details associated with the issue or goals of the policy.

Step Two--Players

Next, you identify the major players involved in the policy, including each player's position and power. These basic political data can then be displayed in a Position Map and a Feasibility Graph (based on an algorithm that calculates a feasibility index of supporters, non-mobilized players, and opponents). You then assess the policy's consequences for major players and identify the main interests of each player. You also evaluate the linkages among major players by building a Coalition Map.

Step Three--Strategies

In this step, based on previously entered data, PolicyMaker helps you design strategies to improve the policy's feasibility and evaluate the probabilities of success. First, you identify opportunities and obstacles to change, including transitions underway in the organization responsible for implementing the policy, in the general organizational environment, and in the broader political environment. Strategies are then defined, either based on a suggested strategy, or entered directly.

Step Four--Impacts

Finally, you assess each strategy's likely impacts on the power and position of major players. PolicyMaker uses this information to calculate the aggregate impacts of a strategy, and to display a comparison of current and future feasibility. This feature allows you to visualize alternative future scenarios. Once strategies are designed, the program can be used to monitor the implementation of strategies and compare observed and expected impacts.

Potential Uses of PolicyMaker

As a rapid assessment tool for political analysis, PolicyMaker can be applied in a variety of ways and settings. Here are five possible approaches for applying PolicyMaker:

  • Gathering and organizing political data about a particular policy

    This is the most common way to use PolicyMaker: as a tool for gathering and organizing information about a proposed policy, especially in complex circumstances with many players. This approach can help you decide what kind of data to collect about a difficult decision, and allows you to sort and display this information efficiently. You can create separate files for the same policy at different points in time, to show how the political conditions have changed. At a minimum, PolicyMaker can function as a policy database.

  • Providing instruction for staff analysis

    You can use PolicyMaker as a guide for your staff members, as a way to structure their analytic work. Staff members can use the program to collect and enter information about a policy, and the program can be used for briefing senior policymakers about important specific problems or strategies. Another possible approach is for junior staff members to enter basic data, so that senior policymakers can use the program to carry out more sophisticated analysis.

  • Presentations about policy decisions

    PolicyMaker can be used in public or small-group settings, to make a presentation about a policy decision or about a set of policy options and their different obstacles and consequences. In this approach, PolicyMaker is used to present the results of a completed analysis, for consideration by a group of decisionmakers.

  • Strategic planning exercise for groups

    PolicyMaker can also be used in a group as an instrument for strategic planning and consensus building among key players, using a skilled facilitator to guide the discussion according to the program's four steps. In this approach, the program creates a set of shared analytic concepts that guides the group's understanding and analysis of the policy.

  • Confidential advice for top policymakers

    PolicyMaker can also be used as a confidential advisory tool for senior policymakers, who may wish to have an explicit analysis of the supporters and opponents of particular policies or decisions. In this approach, the data, the analysis, and the proposed strategies remain private, and provide an additional analytic input to the decision at hand.

Who Should Use PolicyMaker?

PolicyMaker should be used by anyone who wishes to influence public or private policy decisions that involve multiple groups with diverging interests. Potential users include:

  • government policymakers with substantial control and resources and who wish to improve the political feasibility of a proposed policy,

  • non-governmental organizations that have limited influence and resources and seek to promote a specific policy on the official agenda,

  • government officials who seek to increase the loyalty of groups to a proposed policy,

  • groups with little formal influence who wish to increase their voice in the policymaking process,

  • technical analysts who wish that their reports could have more impact on policymakers,

  • individuals within an organization who seek more influence over restructuring efforts,

  • private organizations that seek to manage public issues and multiple organizations in a public or private arena, and

  • groups or individuals such as academic researchers, independent policy analysts, and journalists who study and report on political issues and events.

PolicyMaker could be used by both the supporters and the opponents of a single policy, and they should arrive at different strategies. You can also use PolicyMaker from the perspective of the other side, to gain insight into their likely strategies and actions.

Because of the diverging potential users and the sensitive data contained in an analysis, all documents and computer files related to a PolicyMaker analysis should be treated with caution and discretion. A PolicyMaker report designed to assist a specific organization may not be appropriate for public dissemination. Indeed, in some cases, public distribution could have embarrassing and counterproductive consequences.

Expected Products of PolicyMaker

PolicyMaker can create a number of different products, depending on what you need and what you want. The main products are the following:

  • Rapid identification of problems (problem identification)

    PolicyMaker can help identify obstacles to the policy, including groups or individuals who oppose the policy, the motivations of the opposition, and policy goals or mechanisms that are not widely accepted.

  • Improved communication among organizations (process)

    PolicyMaker can provide better information about the positions and motivations of other groups and organizations, and better flow of information among groups. One of the most important products of a PolicyMaker analysis is the enhanced ability to view a problem from the perspective of other players.

  • New strategies and ideas for policymakers (output)

    The PolicyMaker method offers expert assistance in suggesting strategies on how to change the positions of opposing groups, how to mobilize potential supporters, how to enhance the power of supporters, and how to change public images associated with particular decisions. This feature can improve the strategic thinking and options considered by policymakers.

  • A repository for information related to a political problem (database)

    The PolicyMaker system can be used to construct an ongoing record of information related to a political problem or policy. This database can be an important resource for groups involved in negotiations that occur in complex environments, with large degrees of uncertainty, and with the potential for either high costs or high gains.

  • Improved political feasibility of policy (outcome)

    The ultimate test of PolicyMaker is whether the new strategies and ideas generated through the analysis can enhance the political feasibility of a desired policy. The program includes a tracking feature that allows you to monitor implementation and compare observed impacts and expected impacts for a set of strategies.

How to Carry Out a PolicyMaker Analysis

PolicyMaker provides a series of tables that are logically arranged to describe the processes that influence a policy. One way to carry out a PolicyMaker analysis involves the following steps:

  • Write down a clear definition of the policy

    This definition of your policy may change as you carry out the analysis and design your strategies, but it is important to start with as clear a statement as possible. Indeed, you may decide to change some elements of your policy in order to improve its feasibility.

  • Find a willing and enthusiastic policymaker

    In some cases, you are the policymaker (the person who will use the analysis). In other cases, you are performing PolicyMaker for a client who is a policymaker and who may not have time to enter the data but wants to use the results. The client can help you by providing important background information on the policy as well as introductions to major players (if interviews are to be used). The client can also help you define the policy.

  • Carry out a preliminary analysis

    Use available documents and knowledgeable individuals to complete a preliminary PolicyMaker analysis. Identify the major players involved in the policy, and suggest individuals to be interviewed. This preliminary analysis should indicate areas for additional data collection.

  • Conduct interviews with major players

    If possible, interview major players. In some circumstances (for example, when a confidential analysis is being undertaken), you will not conduct interviews.

  • Provide feedback to the policymaker

    If you are not the policymaker, then you need to find an effective way to present the results of PolicyMaker to your client. You can print a complete HTML report your PolicyMaker exercise for a presentation, or you can use your computer screen to present the analysis and your conclusions. For these presentations, it is helpful to prepare a brief written analysis for the four main steps of PolicyMaker, to interpret and summarize the main points. Note that many word processing and spreadsheet tools allow copying from your internet browser's display of the HTML report.

These steps for carrying out a PolicyMaker analysis work well for an application with an individual analyst and a policymaker client. The steps will need adapting for other types of applications, such as confidential assessments, group discussions, and strategic planning exercises.

Potential Risks of PolicyMaker

PolicyMaker also involves some risks. In some situations, efforts to carry out PolicyMaker may have unintended consequences. The exercise:

  • Can generate controversy

    PolicyMaker can generate controversy, especially if some participants see their interests threatened or if you are perceived as partisan or biased.

  • Can make explicit the interests of organizations

    If the analysis is perceived as identifying the interests and agendas of organizations and individuals, some pressure may be directed against you to influence your analysis.

  • Can sometimes make consensus more difficult

    If significant conflict develops from a PolicyMaker analysis, the controversy could make it more difficult to achieve consensus on a policy.

  • Can become biased from the values of the analyst or the client

    PolicyMaker involves a risk of bias from your values or the client's values or the data sources, because some data require judgment and interpretation.

In short, PolicyMaker is not foolproof. Each step requires careful consideration of potential bias and appropriate consultation with the client and other individuals to reduce uncertainty and bias. One way to minimize these risks is to carry out PolicyMaker in a team that includes "insiders" and "outsiders", to provide a local interpretation of the context along with new ideas and external perspectives. Do not confuse your completed analysis with reality. The analysis depends on your judgments about players and their influence and positions, on your assessments of the impacts of specific strategies on players, and on the program's assumptions about interactions among strategies and among players.

Remember, your opponent shares your objective of "winning" and is making an opposing set of political calculations. While most good politicians make these calculations on an intuitive basis, PolicyMaker makes these political calculations explicit, helping you learn how to win in political competition. There is an additional risk here. Some people may be more successful with their intuitive sense than with explicit analysis. If you are one of these natural politicians, then you don't need PolicyMaker. The rest of us need PolicyMaker, and must learn to handle the risks associated with its use.

Finally, it is important to remember that PolicyMaker does not tell you if a policy is right from an ethical perspective. PolicyMaker is designed to help you get what you want. It does not tell you whether what you want is right or fair. Each user of PolicyMaker, therefore, needs to analyze the ethical issues associated with a policy, in addition to examining the politics. Managing the political dimensions of a decision does not substitute for assuring the ethical basis of a policy.

Applications of PolicyMaker

PolicyMaker has been field tested around the world in diverse political environments and has been used to train hundreds of policymakers and policy analysts. Additional improvements no doubt could be made to the method and the manual. The software program has been designed to allow you substantial flexibility in adapting the method to your particular circumstances and preferences. We encourage users to contact us with their ideas and suggestions.

Here is a sample of field situations where PolicyMaker has been used:

  • Partnership for Child Development in Ghana

  • National Health Reform in Mexico and several other Latin American countries

  • Health of the City Program in Cambridge, Massachusetts

  • Essential Health Interventions Project in Tanzania

  • School Children's Health Insurance in Egypt

  • Pharmaceutical Policy Reform in eight developing countries

  • Reproductive Health Policy in Tanzania

Although PolicyMaker was not used by the Clinton Administration for the US Health Reform Effort, we have prepared an analysis of this reform effort as an illustrative example for the tool and this help text, to demonstrate how to use the software program.

Organizations Supporting Application of PolicyMaker

PolicyMaker has been developed and applied through the generous support of many organizations:

  • New York University

  • The United Nations

  • International Development Research Centre of Canada

  • U.S. Agency for International Development, Data for Decision Making Project, Harvard School of Public Health (Cooperative Agreement No. DPE-5991-A-00-1052-00)

  • The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation

  • Inter-American Development Bank

  • World Health Organization, Action Programme on Essential Drugs

  • U.S. Centers for Disease Control

  • The Takemi Program in International Health, Harvard School of Public Health

  • Health of the City Project, Cambridge, Massachusetts

None of the organizations takes responsibility for any errors contained in the method or the software, or for any uses of the method and software.


Getting Started

The Software

Beginning Skills

Understanding How the Program Works

Hardware and Software Requirements

PolicyMaker 5 has been tested for use in the Chrome browser running on Windows and OS X Yosemite. It has not been tested for use in other browsers.

While it may be possible to use PolicyMaker in a limited fashion on a mobile device, we recommend that you practice exporting and importing data. Some mobile operating systems may not allow you to save or easily access downloaded content. In other words, you may not be able to export, import, or share your projects. There may be other problems as well.

Copyright and Authorship

The methodology behind PolicyMaker was developed by Michael R. Reich, Professor of International Health Policy, at the Harvard School of Public Health. The software was written by David M. Cooper, a professional software architect and developer. The manual and help text were written by Michael R. Reich and David M. Cooper.

Copyright 2023 by Michael R. Reich and David M. Cooper.

Acknowledgments: Laura Reichenbach assisted in developing the Clinton Health Care Reform sample project and additional test cases. We would also like to thank Micah Zimring for designing some of the original icons for the program. The late Professor Jack Zarker of Duke University contributed his advice on the phrase, "Caveat Computator." We would also like to thank Eva Basilion for contributing with the development of the tutorials.

We would also like to thank Brendan O'Brien, Mandeep Janeja, and Anila Gopalakrishnan for their comments, and their hard work on the trial and development of Interest Group Analysis.

The comments of numerous users with Political Mapping versions 1.2 and 1.3, 2.0 - 2.3 and during the beta test period provided invaluable help in identifying areas for improvement and ideas for enhancement. Comments provided by users of PolicyMaker 4.0 have also been very helpful.

Starting PolicyMaker

When you first access PolicyMaker, the Welcome to PolicyMaker or select project view is displayed.

The last project you worked on will be listed as the 'Current' choice. To resume work on your last project, click on Current.

The Welcome screen also offers other choices:

  • Open the Example project

  • Create a new project.

  • Import a file from your computer into local storage

  • Export a file from local storage to your computer

  • Projects - view a list of projects in local storage

When you first start using PolicyMaker 5, please review the limitations and nature of the default local storage feature. Please see the section on Saving Data

What is a Project?

When you use PolicyMaker, you will be working on a particular "Project." A project is the largest division of data for the PolicyMaker system. A given project contains a variety of tables, maps and other information. Just as a word processing system focuses on a particular document--a letter or an article, for instance--each time you use PolicyMaker you will select a particular project file to work on.

It is relatively difficult to move data from one project file to another. Store all your information about a particular policy or initiative in a single project. If you divide your data into different projects you may find it difficult to combine the data later.

When you export a project to your hard disk, all project file names end with the suffix ".JSON." A PolicyMaker file is formatted as a Javascript Object Notation file. Consequently, it can be viewed in a tool such as Notepad. Do not edit a PolicyMaker file outside the program, as the program may find the file unreadable if key information is changed.

In addition to the data you enter about players, issues, and strategies, your project contains certain information about your project, such as the analyst name and lists. See Summary and Settings for more information on project-based data.

Creating a New Project

To create a new project, click on Create on the Welcome window. The system will display the Add New Project dialog box which asks for the name you want to call your project, plus a variety of other attributes. This is where you define the title for your project and enter your name or the name of the analyst. The project name and analyst are required, other fields are optional.

The fields on this box can be edited later. See the Project Settings display for detailed information about each of the fields on this box.

Opening a Project File

If you want to open a project that is not your 'Current' project, click on the Projects button on the Welcome screen. The Local Projects box will be displayed. This box provides a listing of your current Local Storage projects and an estimate of how much local storage has been used. Click on the Open button to open a project.

Note: When you first use the system, no prior projects will be listed.

The Main Menu Screen

Once you have started a new project or selected a pre-existing one, the Main Menu screen is displayed. This screen is shown whenever you have opened a project and no other main window is displayed. It is not shown until you either create a new project or open an existing one.

The five boxes on this screen correspond to the four steps in the methodology plus one box for Summary and Settings. To learn more about the four steps, see How the Method and Program Work Together.

To display a main step, click on icon for the step or on the step name.

For a more detailed explanation of the PolicyMaker method and the meaning of each table, see the topics on the four steps of the PolicyMaker method

The Example Project: Clinton's Health Care Reform

PolicyMaker includes a sample PolicyMaker project, Clinton's Health Care Reform, to illustrate procedures described in the text. The Clinton Health Care Reform example file is limited--see About Saving Data for more information.

Saving Data

Automatic Saving

PolicyMaker saves most of your data to local storage when you click on the OK button on any detail window or dialog box. When you open a detail window, either to add a row or edit one, the system will save your data as soon as you click on the OK button. When the Cancel button is visible, clicking on Cancel will stop the recently entered data from being saved.

Some displays allow direct input (such as the Coalition Map window).

If you want to copy a table's data to a file--for possible use in other apps--you can use the Summary feature to create a single-page report. Some editors will accept a paste operation from an HTML (web) page.

Leaving PolicyMaker

When you open a project or initiate the Create process, any project you currently have open is automatically closed. Projects are also automatically closed when navigate to another web page or use the browser's back or next button, or enter an address or search in the browser's address box.

You should export your data frequently. See the topic on Saving Data.


To access help, click on the Help button on the toolbar. The Help button should open a separate tab in Chrome. In some cases, due to pop-up blockers, the help button may fail to load the Help tab. In that case, navigate to help.html


How the Method and Program Work Together

The PolicyMaker method is based on four analytical steps--issues, players, strategies, and impacts of strategies. Each step has a corresponding main step screen in the program. See the Four Steps of PolicyMaker Analysis.

Each of the four main steps has a variety of sub-steps, or main windows. When you select 2. Players from the Main Menu window, PolicyMaker will main step panel showing buttons and descriptions for the sub-steps related to Players.

For example, the button for Players briefly describes what you do to complete that step. Each sub-step has a clickable box on the panel for Players. The text displayed next to each button provides a concise summary of that step.

For more information about each of the detailed steps, consult the appropriate help topic on the step. See the topic on The PolicyMaker Method for a menu to topics on the main steps.

You can return to the Main Menu at any time by:

  • Clicking on the Up button on the toolbar until you return to the Main Menu
  • Selecting Main Menu from the accordion-style Menu accessible from the Menu button

To return to a sub-step window, click on the Up button on the toolbar. The corresponding main step panel will then be displayed.

Here's an outline of PolicyMaker's structure. Each step is numbered, and each sub-step has a letter:

1. Policy

2. Players

3. Strategies

A. Opportunities and Obstacles

B. Suggested Strategies

C. Strategy Table: Review and sort your strategies

4. Impacts of Strategies

A. Strategy Impacts: Identify the impacts associated with each strategy

B. Position Map - Future

C. Feasibility Graph - Future

D. Strategy Implementation

The following other features are available, but do not correspond to numbered steps in the method:

Summary: View a summary of the full project

Entering Data: Issue, Players, Strategies, and Impacts

When you analyze a policy or political situation with PolicyMaker, you are entering and manipulating data on three basic components:

  • Policy: Define an issue and key policy and program interventions, and

  • Players: The people, organizations, parts of organizations, and social groups who play a role in determining the feasibility of your policy, and

  • Strategies: The actions you can take to enhance your policy's feasibility.

A PolicyMaker analysis builds on these three components, to assess your policy's feasibility under different conditions.

Once you have entered basic data on the issue, the players, and the strategies, you can analyze how these components relate to each other, by entering data on:

  • Players' interests, and how players relate to each other,

  • Opportunities and obstacles relating to players and the political environment, and

  • How strategies might change the power or position of players--what PolicyMaker calls strategy impacts.

The overall goal of PolicyMaker is to improve (or undermine) the political feasibility of a policy, according to strategies that change the policy or the players in critical ways. PolicyMaker helps you figure out the factors that determine feasibility. The program helps you design and evaluate different strategies, and thereby helps you envision different policy futures.

All the windows in PolicyMaker relate to the policy, the players, and the strategies. PolicyMaker includes mechanisms for entering, analyzing, sorting, relating, and displaying data about these three components. The program is constructed on a database, and the windows that you see on the screen mimic the internal "data structure", often in a spreadsheet-like grid of data. In this format, each row in the grid corresponds to a row in the project's database.

Common Features of PolicyMaker Windows

Many of the main windows in PolicyMaker share certain common features:

The Toolbar

When a main window is displayed, a toolbar appears at the top of the screen. The following buttons are available:

  • Menu: Displays a slide-out menu allowing direct access to the main windows of the application.

  • Up: Return to the step menu for the current screen. Thus, if the Players table is displayed, Up returns to the Player Menu.

  • Help: Displays the Help screen. See Help


Many of the main windows and a few of the detail windows display tables. One useful feature of the tables in PolicyMaker is the ability to sort the rows, according to different criteria. For instance, on the Player Table, you can sort the entries by their Position with respect to the policy. This allows you to see your opponents and your supporters grouped separately. Seeing all your opponents together might help suggest strategies for specific players or might help you assess the overall feasibility of your policy.

You can sort any table by clicking on the headingfor the column to sort on. Sorting makes no permanent change to the database--it simply displays the data in the selected order.

Many of the tables have a context menu. The context menu can be accessed by right-clicking a row in the table. When you right-click a row, the row will be selected, and the following choices may be available on the row:

  • Add: Initiates the addition of a row to a table.

  • Edit: Click on this to edit the current row in a table. PolicyMaker will display the appropriate detail window. To use Edit, a row must be selected.

  • Delete: Initiates the deletion of a row from a table. To use Delete, a row must be selected.

  • Increase Row Height: Temporarily increases the row height for the table.

  • Decrease Row Height: Temporarily decreases the row height for the table.

If a table supports adding rows, an Add button will appear in the heading section for the window.

Using Table and Detail Windows: An Example--The Player Table

Many PolicyMaker users prefer to start with the Player Table. The Player Table's entries are used in other windows in the analysis, so it is advisable to identify the key players early in a project. The Player Table is also a good example of the main tables of the system and has many features found in other tables.



Example: The Player Table

To access the player table, click on the Player Table button on the Player panel.

For a new project, the Player Table screen will initially be blank. You cannot edit information or add players directly on the Player Table. You must access the Player detail window to add a player. This is true with many other tables in PolicyMaker.

Each row in the Player Table refers to a particular person, organization, part of an organization, or social group. Each column describes a different facet of information about the player. Two columns, Position and Power, code information about each entry by color. In the Power column, for instance, the color black indicates that the player has high power with respect to the policy at hand. Sorting by Power will cause all the black-coded players to appear near the top of the table.

To add a player, click on the Add button on the toolbar.

Sorting the Player Table

The Player Table (like many other tables in PolicyMaker) supports sorting--it allows you to sort all the entries by a certain attribute (see Tables). Click on a column heading at the top of the screen to request sorting by a particular attribute.

Try sorting your players by Position. This will order all players from those who strongly support your policy to those who most oppose your policy. This may suggest alliances, or may suggest strategies aimed at a group of players who share a common position on your policy.

Alternatively, you can sort the players by Sector. This may suggest how different classes of players share common positions--or radically differ in their positions.

Adding a Player: Using The Player Detail Window

To create a player, click on the Add button. The Add Player window will be displayed.

When the Add Player window is displayed, other windows cannot be accessed. To exit without changing anything, click on the Cancel button in the lower right corner of the display.

The Add Player window has a variety of fields you can fill in. Each dialog box has different requirements. If you click on OK and a required value is missing or invalid, an orange message will appear on the box. You may always click Cancel to exit the box.

The Player Name must be no longer than 70 characters. In addition, you cannot add two players with exactly the same name. Inadvertent duplicate entries are not entirely blocked by the system, however. It is possible to add two players, one named "Dole, Sen. Robert" and the other named "Dole, Sen. Bob," for example.

Hint: You may want to enter the names of players in a way that will allow you to sort them usefully. "Dole, Sen. Robert" or "Sen. Dole" might both be more useful while "Robert Dole, Sen." would not be as useful (unless you are interested in sorting by the Player's first names).

To complete the addition of the player, click on the OK button. This will return you to the Player Table. The player that was just added will be highlighted and selected as the current player. Not all the information on the Player detail window is shown in the table, only the items considered to be most important.

Editing and Viewing Detail Player Data

From the Player Table, right-click on the player's row in the table to see the detail window for an existing player. (You can click anywhere on the row, not just on the player's Name.) The Player detail window will be displayed.

The Player detail window is the same as the Add Player window, except that all the fields are filled with data already on file for the entry. You can change any data on the player, including the name. However, you cannot change the name of the player to that of another player.

To exit the Player detail window without saving the data, click on Cancel. To keep your changes, click on OK.

Navigating Between Players

When the Player Table is displayed, one row is marked as the current player. This is the player whose row appears with a blue background in the table.

Clicking once on a row makes it the current player.

When displaying the detail window for an existing player, the Next and Previous buttons change the current player to the next or the previous player in the table.

Deleting a Player

Deleting a player is done on the Player Table. Right-click on a player row, and select the Delete option from the context menu. You will then be prompted with a confirmation box. Click on OK to delete, or Cancel to exit without deleting.


The Four Steps of the PolicyMaker Method

Where to Start: A look at the method and how to apply it to your policy or political problem.

The four steps:


Where to Start?

PolicyMaker requires that you perform four main analytic steps, which require different kinds of skills (see The Four Steps of PolicyMaker). How should you carry out these four steps? A linear thinker would view these four steps as sequential--that is, first you define your issues, then you analyze the players on the political terrain, next you design your strategies, and finally you assess the likely impacts of your strategies--one, two, three, four. Many models of policymaking assume this neat sequential series of steps. Reality, however, is much messier.

When you use PolicyMaker you do not have to follow this straight line of four steps. Our experience suggests that you should approach PolicyMaker as an iterative process. Begin where you feel comfortable and with what you know best. Many analysts start with the Player Table, identifying the key actors involved in a policy, and then moving to other tables. You will probably revise your ideas and your tables as you carry out interviews and think about the data you are collecting.

Of course, if you feel comfortable with linear thinking, then follow the four main analytical steps one-by-one: the issue, players, strategies, and then impacts.


Policy (Step 1)

In this step, you identify the key issues associated with your policy, the expected result of the implementation of your policy, and any indicator that could be used to evaluate these results.

For each issue, the following data is collected:

  • Name: Specify the issue clearly in a sentence or two.
  • Mechanism: Describe a concrete goal associated with this issue, if implemented.
  • Indicator: How can you measure whether each expected result is achieved? Here you should identify one or two specific indicators for each issue.

Players (Step 2)

In this step, you identify the major players involved in the policy, including each player's position and power.

These basic political data can then be displayed in a Position Map and a Feasibility Graph (based on an algorithm that calculates a feasibility index of supporters, non-mobilized players, and opponents). You then assess the policy's consequences for major players and identifies the main interests of each player. You also evaluate the linkages among major players (in the Coalition Map).

Any assessment of political feasibility must examine the players and must make informed judgments about the players. But, unfortunately, the field of policy analysis does not have a single or simple method for evaluating political players. PolicyMaker therefore includes a number of analytical methods to assess the players involved in your policy. In particular, you will be asked to judge the positions, power, and number of players, as well as their interests and their relationships.


Player Table (Step 2A)

The Player Table is one of the core tables in PolicyMaker. This table identifies all the players that might be affected by or might affect your policy, and assesses their power and their position on the policy. In this table, you enter information on who is for and who is against your policy, and who has yet to take a position, and you enter your qualitative assessment of the strength of a player's support or opposition.

The Player Table shows basic information about the players in your project. The list of players should include all major groups that might be affected by the policy, even if the group is not organized or mobilized. You should also consider differences within an organization, since sub-units and individuals may take different positions from the overall organization.

The fields shown on the Player detail window can be divided into two categories:

Players: Identification Fields

To create an entry for a player, you must provide the name and an abbreviation (recommended: up-to-eight characters) for the player. The Player Type and Sector fields are not required, but appear on the Player Table and are useful in analyzing the players.

  • Player: When typing in the name of a player, consider placing the more important information first, thus making the Sort by Name feature more useful.

  • Player Abbreviations: Player Abbreviations are used by the Position and Coalition Maps to represent player positions. If the map does not have space for the full name, it will use the abbreviation. If no abbreviation is given, the first eight characters of the name are used as the abbreviation.

  • Sector of Player: When you enter details on a player, you should choose a sector to which the player belongs. Select one of the listed options or enter your own text value. Note: If you wish to create your own list of choices for this field, see Project Settings.

  • Level: Identify the level of the player. By default, the selection is between National, Regional and Local. To change the selection for your project, display the Project Settings window.

  • Additional Player Information: Use this field to provide further qualitative information about the player.

Players: Feasibility Algorithm Fields

The first data you enter for a player is your assessment of the player's position and power with respect to the policy. PolicyMaker provides several methods to assess a player's power and position. The Position and Power fields are used by the feasibility algorithm to calculate feasibility indices. The Player detail window displays a scrollbar to set these values. Your responses will be shown through the color displayed in the Position and Power Indicators.

Position and Power controls:

  • Position of Player

    The position of a player, as shown in the Player Table, combines a player's position (support, opposition, or non-mobilized) and the strength of that position (high, medium, or low)--leading to seven possible positions (one non-mobilized position, and three degrees of support or opposition). Whether a player is a supporter, opponent, or non-mobilized for a particular policy should be determined from an analysis of documents, public statements, and interviews. The degree of support or opposition can be assessed according to the level of resources committed to a policy position (including, for example, financial resources, personnel time, and public statements). The positions of all players can be displayed and printed in the Position Map. Deciding on a player's position can require an interpretation of ambiguous evidence, and you can record those ambiguities and sources of data in the Note window accessible from the Player detail screen. You may also decide to revise the position and the strength of position as you collect more data. Positions may change over time and with respect to different elements or mechanisms within the policy. Players' positions can be displayed alone or combined with their power in the Feasibility Graph.

  • Power of Player

    How much power does a particular player have over the outcome of a policy debate? The program allows you to select: high, medium, or low. A player with high power generally has substantial influence over whether a policy will be adopted or implemented, but not total power. Similarly, a player with low power is relatively powerless, but still has some possibility to influence a policy. PolicyMaker can be used to assist a player with high power determine how to get her way, as well as to help a powerless player design strategies to have more influence on a decision. Players' power values can be displayed alone or combined with their positions in the Feasibility Graph.

Position Map - Current (Step 2B)

The Position Map displays each player's position on the policy along a continuum of support to opposition, with high support at the far left (dark green) and high opposition at the far right (dark red). One overall goal of the program is to design strategies that move players leftward on the Position Map, thereby increasing support for the policy and making it more politically feasible (assuming that you want the policy).

The following Position Maps in are available in PolicyMaker:

  • Position Map - Current (this window): Shows the positions and power as entered on the Player table.

  • Position Map - Future (Step 5B): Shows future positions if specific strategies or strategy packages are implemented.

The Position Map shows all players with defined positions. Players for whom no position is set are not displayed. Each player appears as a small rectangle containing the player's name or abbreviation. In the Position Map, the color of the box (fill color) indicates the player's level of power (black for high, gray for medium, and white for low).

For more information about setting a player's positions, see the Player Table topic.

Feasibility Graph - Current (Step 2C)

The Feasibility Graph displays a quantitative assessment of the relative strength of all supporters versus all opponents, and the potential to mobilize players currently in the non-mobilized category. The assessment is based on the assumption that political feasibility is determined by three main factors:

  • the strength of the position a player takes (low, medium, or high support or opposition),

  • the power of a player (high, medium, or low power), and

  • the number of players who are mobilized to support or oppose a policy.

The Feasibility Graph displays this information as a bar chart.

The Feasibility Graph assesses the political feasibility of your proposed policy by calculating a value for each player that combines the Position and Power. The calculated values for all supporters, all non-mobilized players, and all opponents are then summed to create an index, shown as three numbers in the Feasibility Graph..

The Feasibility Graph thus provides a visual display of the relative strengths of supporters and opponents, and the potential strength of non-mobilized players. This graph should be interpreted with a degree of caution, because of qualitative judgments made in assigning power and position values to players. If the support index greatly exceeds the opposition index, then you could conclude that the policy has good chances at feasibility. If the support index and opposition index are at similar levels, or the opposition index greatly exceeds the support index, then you could conclude that the policy has poor chances at feasibility, or at least faces major challenges.

The Feasibility Graph can calculate feasibility indices on current as well as future positions and power. The Current Feasibility Graph calculates the feasibility based on current positions (entered in the Player Table), while the Future Feasibility Graph calculates the expected impacts on position and power if specific strategies are implemented (as entered in the Strategy Impacts window). The Comparison Feasibility Graph shows both current and future indices on the same graph.

Consequences Table (Step 2D)

PolicyMaker provides an assessment of a policy's consequences along five dimensions:

  • Type: What type of consequence?

  • Identity: Who is affected?

  • Size: How much of an effect?

  • Timing: When will the effects start?

  • Importance: How important are the effects?

These five dimensions are used to describe the consequences of the policy. Estimating these consequences is not easy, and requires either an existing policy analysis of good quality or good guesswork--or some of both.

The Policy Consequence Table asks you to enter the following kinds of data:

  • Type of Consequence

    PolicyMaker provides a list of various types of consequences. Select one of the listed options or enter your own text value. Note: If you wish to set your own selection of choices for this field, see Project Settings.

  • Consequence Description

    In this box, provide a brief description of the consequence for the player that you have selected. This description should provide some more details for the type of consequence that you selected. You may also want to describe whether the consequence is obvious and direct or more subtle and indirect.

  • Size of the Consequence

    How large of a consequence is anticipated? You can respond with "large" or "small." If possible, quantify the size. For a financial consequence, estimate the money required. For an administrative consequence, indicate the number of personnel required, or the size of the new agency.

  • Timing of the Consequence

    When will the consequence begin? Do you expect the effect to commence immediately (with the passage of a new law, for example, or with the implementation of the law)? Or will the consequence occur some time in the future? Will the consequence be one-time and short-term, or will it be continuous and long-term?

  • A Consequence for Whom?

    Select the player who is affected by the consequence that you are considering. PolicyMaker provides a list of all the players that you named in the Player Table. You may want to enter a given consequence multiple times--once each for significantly affected players.

  • Importance of the Consequence

    Select the degree of importance for the consequence (high, medium, low, or unknown), and provide a brief description of the importance, or why it is difficult to assess the importance. Think of how important the consequence is to the overall political feasibility of the policy. This assessment provides a comparative indicator across different consequences.

How many consequences should you include in this table? You could assess all seven types of consequences for all listed players, but this probably would produce more information than you need or could easily grasp. Keep the entries limited to a reasonable number. The purpose is to identify those consequences that make a difference to the political feasibility of the policy, not to identify all possible consequences. For ideas of what the consequences might be, you can review the mechanisms identified in the Content Table.

Interests Table (Step 2E)

The Interests Table asks you to explain why a player has taken a particular position (as shown in the Player Table and the Position Map). This analysis (sometimes called a stakeholder analysis) is important because it helps explain the motives behind the positions taken, and also because it can help identify strategies to change a player's position. Be sure to include the key organizations that appear in the Player Table, especially those that are highly mobilized in support or opposition, and those that might be persuaded to change their position or their degree of mobilization. A given player can have more than one interest.

The Interests Table involves three qualitative assessments about the players:

  • Type of Interest

    What does the player seek to gain from its position on the policy? Select one of the listed options or enter your own text value. Note: If you wish to set your own selection of choices for this field, see Project Settings.

  • Priority of Interest

    How important (high, medium, or low) is this interest for the player? The level of priority can be expressed in various ways: the degree of involvement of leaders, the level of resources committed to promoting the player's position, or explicit statements about the priority (in interviews or documents).

  • Interest (Description)

    Describe briefly the player's interest. What do you think motivates the player to take a particular position? This assessment of "motives" may rely on ambiguous data and can be subjective. You can use this field to explain the evidence you used to reach your conclusion about the motives for a player. You can explain both the types of interests you selected and the priority that you assigned to each interest.

How many players and how many interests should you enter? Here again, rather than including all the players assessed for all possible interests, you should choose those players that are relevant for the policy's feasibility. In particular, consider any players whose position you might be able to influence through negotiations or other actions. Note these possibilities in the Interest Description, so that you can use these ideas in the Strategy Design step, to help you construct effective strategies for feasibility.

While completing the Interests Table, you may realize that some individuals or some units within an organization have different positions or different interests from the larger organization. Should you add them to the Player Table? If you think that the individual (or sub-unit) could affect the policy's outcome in a critical way, then add them as separate players. For many policies, the individual can make a difference--in getting an issue on the agenda, in negotiating effective coalitions, in providing important information, in pushing organizations to follow through on commitments. Differences in the interests of individuals and the interests of their organizations also provide opportunities for political strategies to influence the policy. If you enter this information in the Interest Table, you can refer to it when you design your strategies.

Coalition Map (Step 2F)

The Coalition Map allows you to diagram current (or future) coalitions of players. Players may hold the same position on a policy, but not belong to a coalition. This analysis helps you visualize current and potential coalitions. You can group players together in coalitions, and use the three concentric circles to represent levels of power or proximity to the decision.

When the Coalition Map is first displayed, no players are displayed on it.

To add a player, click the Add button. The Add to the Coalition Map dialog box will be shown. On this dialog you can:

  • Add a player: Check the Select a player to add... radio button, and select one of the players from the list.

  • Add a caption: Check the Add a caption radio button, and fill in text for a caption

  • Create a radial line: Check the Create a coalition divider... radio button, and fill in a value from 0 to 360

To move a player or a caption, click on the item to select, then drag the mouse to the items's new location on the map. You can place players with high influence or high access to decision-makers close to the center of the map; or you can use the three concentric circles to represent some other value. Place players together who are current or potential members of coalitions.

Players that are added after you have built your Coalition Map can also be added via the Add window.

To delete a player, caption, or legend, select the item and click on the Delete button. A deletion window will be displayed to confirm your choice. To delete a divider, click on the Delete button and select the divider from the list. Deleting here does not completely delete the player -- it only removes the player from the display.

To add concentric circles to the diagram, click the Options button and radii values. Radii values are a percentage of the image height.


Strategies (Step 3)

In the third step, based on previously entered data, PolicyMaker helps you design strategies to improve the policy's feasibility and evaluate the probabilities of success.


Before starting the process of entering strategies, you may want to review information you entered on prior screens for relevance in strategy creation:

  • Consequences Table

    Data from the Consequences Table can help you identify the consequences that are perceived as undesirable for important players. Winning the support of opposing players may require negotiating these consequences, providing some compensation, or making compromises in the policy's Goals or Mechanisms. Which aspects of the policy might be modified in order to improve the likelihood of success for the entire proposal? Will strengthening important elements of the policy increase support significantly among those who are already its proponents?

  • Interests Table

    Data from the Interests Table can help explain why players have taken their positions. Can you design strategies that satisfy the interests of opponents without undermining the effectiveness of the policy and without reducing the level of support from proponents?

  • Opportunities and Obstacles for Players

    Review each opportunity and each action you identified to take advantage of transitions underway. Consider various sources of opportunity, at the levels of individual, organization, and political environment. Often, a new leader or a new political regime offers a window of opportunity for change; if you miss that chance, the window may shut quickly and tightly. Review each obstacle and each action you identified to overcome the obstacle. Consider how you might be able to overcome each obstacle, or if that is not possible, lessen its impact on the feasibility of your policy.

Opportunities and Obstacles (Step 3A)

The Opportunities and Obstacles step asks you to identify and assess transitions that may present opportunities to enhance the political feasibility of the policy or those that may create significant obstacles to your policy goals. Decisions about public policy rarely occur in static environments. This phase of the analysis helps you identify opportunities for influence that may arise because of changes in individuals (who hold leadership or implementation roles), in the implementing organization, in other organizations, and in the social and political environments. It may also help you identify obstacles that can interfere with achieving your goals.

For each player in your analysis, PolicyMaker provides a text box to enter a summary of any opportunities, and one to describe any possible obstacles.

This analysis of opportunities and obstacles asks for the following information:

  • Opportunity

    Provide a brief description of the opportunity. For example, the opportunity may involve a change in leadership, or a new source of financial support, or a loss of high-level political support. Also, in this box, briefly describe an action that could take advantage of the opportunity, to influence the policymaking process and create support for your policy. This statement can be used in PolicyMaker's next step to help you design effective strategies.

  • Obstacle

    Provide a brief description of the obstacle. Also, in the box, briefly describe an action that could overcome this obstacle, to influence the policymaking process and enhance the feasibility of your policy. This statement can be used in PolicyMaker's next step to help you design effective strategies.

Suggested Strategies (Step 3B)

This step in the PolicyMaker method helps you design and assess strategies for change in the policymaking process. The strategies are intended to shape the power, positions, and numbers of players, and thereby determine your policy's political feasibility. The design of effective strategies is one of PolicyMaker's most important products. PolicyMaker provides an expert system to improve this critical step of political analysis.

PolicyMaker provides two methods for strategy design: First, the program provides a generic set of suggested political strategies, which you can apply or adapt to your policy problem. Second, the program allows you to review information you have already entered in your analysis of players and asks you to use this information to construct appropriate strategies.

The Suggested Strategies window displays possible strategies divided into three groups:

  • Strategies to strengthen support.
  • Strategies to mobilize the non-mobilized.
  • Strategies to minimize opposition.

You can also skip this step of computer-assisted strategy design, and go directly to the Strategy Table to create your own strategies.

When you click on one of the suggested strategies, the Add New Strategy Based on Suggested Strategy window appears.

In a drop-down box at the top is a list of players divided in groups based on their estimated current position. Click on one or more of the players who might be best affected by the selected strategy.

You can customize the strategy to meet the circumstances of your policy by providing information in the Action, Challenges or Timeline box. Clicking on OK will return you to the Strategy Table or Suggested Strategies window. Clicking on Add Another will display an empty box to enter another strategy.

Aside from Players, the Add a Strategy window has the following fields:

  • Strategy Name

    Give each strategy a brief name that refers, for example, to the type of action proposed or the target of the action. You will see this name when you open the Strategy Impacts table. When you create a strategy using the Suggested Strategies feature, the Strategy Name will be provided for you; you can edit this later by accessing the strategy from the Strategy Table.

  • Action

    Describe the action that the strategy entails. Be specific about who should do what and when. For example, a strategy to enhance the power of supporters might have the name, "Strengthen Supporting Groups," and the action of "Provide organizational resources to supporting group x, by assigning John Clark to work with the group for six months."

  • Challenges

    Analyze human, financial and other challenges of implementing the action you have defined.

  • Timeline

    Provide an outline of the timeline to implement your strategy. Consider milestones or steps necessary to implement the strategy.

  • Probability of Success

    Set a value from 0% (no chance) to 100% (certainty) for the probability that your strategy will have the expected impacts on the positions or power of the players you selected. You can enter an exact value in the box , or click on a radio button to select a quintile choice. When you enter an exact value, the nearest quintile choice is selected for you. The default probability is an optimistic 100%.

Through this process, PolicyMaker helps you design effective strategies for change. But you still need to ask and seek answers to a number of tough questions of political analysis. Some of those questions include the following:

  • Which player should you start with in seeking to change the balance of power on the Position Map?

  • What kinds of resources (incentives or pressures) are likely to be most effective in changing the position of a particular player?

  • How many players need to be shifted, in order to make a policy sufficiently feasible?

  • Can you redesign some of the policy goals or policy measures in order to improve the policy's overall likelihood of success?

  • How can you best take advantage of political transitions and the opportunities associated with those transitions?

The construction of strategies represents one of PolicyMaker's most important steps. But strategies alone do not yield feasibility. You still need to envision likely impacts. Carrying out these steps can help you seek answers to the tough questions of politics, and can improve your skills in the art of policymaking.

When you have finished creating the strategy, click on OK

Strategy Table (Step 3C)

The Strategy Table displays all of your strategies, with basic information for each strategy.

The Strategy Table presents data on all strategies entered either via the Add button on the Strategy Table screen, or via the Suggested Strategies feature, including the strategy name and action, impacted players, and the likely challenges and timeline. In some cases, you may work with an advisor to the policymaker in preparing or reviewing these strategies and in assessing the expected challenges and timeline. The final choice of strategies, however, is usually up to the policymaker, who must decide whether the desired policy is worth the political risks of the proposed actions.

To add strategies from this window, click on Add on the toolbar, which displays the Add a Strategy window. (See the Suggested Strategies topic for information about the fields in the Add/Edit Strategy window.)


Strategy Impacts (Step 4)

In the fifth and final step, you assess each strategy's likely impacts on the power and position of major players. PolicyMaker uses this information to calculate the aggregate impacts of a strategy package, and to display a comparison of current and future feasibility. This feature allows you to visualize alternative future scenarios. Once a strategy package is selected, the program can be used to monitor the implementation of strategies and compare observed and expected impacts.


Calculating the Feasibility Indices

Strategy Impacts (Step 4A)

This step in the PolicyMaker method helps you assess each strategy's likely impacts on the power and position of major players. PolicyMakeruses this information to calculate the aggregate impacts of a strategy package, and then allows you to compare the current and future feasibility of your policy. These features allow you to visualize alternative future scenarios. Finally, once you select a strategy, you can use the program to monitor the implementation of strategies and compare the observed and expected impacts.

When you click on the Strategy Impacts button, or select Step 4A on the Impacts panel, PolicyMaker will ask you to select a strategy. Each display of the Strategy Impacts window is based on the expected impacts of a particular strategy on the position and power of players. If you have not entered any strategies, the Strategy Impacts Table will be blank.

The top of the Strategy Impacts window displays a summary of the strategy: its name, action, and timeline.

In the table below, you can identify players whose position or power might be impacted by this strategy. You should only list those players whose position or power is expected to change.

To add a player to the list, return to the Strategy Table and edit the strategy.

The Strategy Impacts window will automatically provide the player's Current Position as recorded in the Player Table. You should estimate how the strategy will affect the player's position and then select the player's probable Future Position. The window also gives the player's Current Power and allows you to set the player's likely Future Power.

To enter a Future Position orFuture Power, right click the player and select Edit. Scroll the Future Position and Power to set values. Click on OK to save.

The Future Position and Future Power information allows PolicyMaker to create the Future Position Map, which shows how a strategy (or a combination of strategies) would change the Position Map. The information is also used to create the Future Feasibility Graph.

Position Map - Future (Step 4B)

The Future Position Map shows how the player positions and power will change, based on the predicted impacts of a selection of strategies. In short, this window allows you to envision a future political scenario for your policy.

When you click on the Position Map - Future button (or tab) you will be asked to select a set of strategies, through the Select Strategies to Map window. You can select (or unselect) individual strategies in the Strategy list. Alternatively, click on the Check All button to select all strategies. To clear the selection, click on Uncheck all All. If no strategies are selected, the Position Map - Future will display the same data as Position Map - Current.

If more than one strategy affects a player, the system calculates a best guess of the combined impacts of the strategies by averaging their values.

To alter your list of strategies displayed in the Position Map - Future, click on the Strategies button for the Select Strategies to Map window, and then select or unselect strategies. When the current positions are shown, click on the Future button (in the lower left corner) to display the expected future positions.

Feasibility Graph - Future (Step 4C)

The Feasibility Graph - Future shows a quantitative assessment of the feasibility of your policy as a result of the selected strategies.

When you click on the Feasibility Graph - Future button you will be asked to select a set of strategies, through the Select Strategies to Graph window. You can select (or unselect) individual strategies in the Strategy list. Alternatively, click on the Check All button to select all strategies. To clear the selection, click on Uncheck All. To calculate the Feasibility Graph - Future however, you must first enter at least one strategy (Step 3B or 3C) and assess the likely impacts of that strategy (Step 4A).

To alter your list of strategies to display, click on the Strategies button for the Select Strategies to Map window, and then select or de-select strategies.

See also, the Feasibility Graph - Current and the topic on Calculating the Feasibility Indices.

Calculating the Feasibility Indices

The Feasibility Algorithm is used to calculate the indices of support and opposition shown in the Feasibility Graph.

The Feasibility Algorithm is a mathematical formula involving players' positions and power. The algorithm is applied to each player included in the analysis, producing a value that is added to the appropriate index (support, non-mobilized, or opposition), to create the Feasibility Graph - Current.

In the Current context, for each supporting and opposing player, the power value (always a positive value) is multiplied by the position's intensity to arrive at a score for the player. For supporters, position intensity is the Position value. For opponents, the position intensity is the absolute value of the Position value.

Therefore, if Player A (a supporter) has a position value (intensity) of 5.5, and a power value of 4.2, the player's score will be 23.1. This score will be added to the index for Supporters.

Since Non-mobilized players have no "intensity", a special constant value is used for intensity - the Position Intensity for Non-Mobilized setting. This value is set to 5.

When the Feasibility Graph - Future is generated, the program averages the strategy impacts for each player and determines the combined impact. The Feasibility Algorithm is then applied to that impact, resulting in a feasibility value for each player. This value is then added to the appropriate index (for support, non-mobilized, or opposition). The three indices are then shown on the Future Feasibility Graph.

The model embodied in the feasibility algorithm inevitably simplifies reality. We have sought to make the model's assumptions reasonable, transparent, and modifiable. If used with some caution, the feasibility algorithm can help you graphically estimate both current and future levels of support and opposition for a policy. But the multiple uncertainties and informed guesses involved in calculating the Feasibility Graph should not be forgotten. See the topic on the Feasibility Graph.

Strategy Implementation (Step 4D)

This final step in the PolicyMaker method helps you plan and track the implementation of your strategies. This table shows each expected impact of your strategies, listed according to the strategy name and player impacts. You can also use this table to assign an individual the responsibility for managing the implementation of each strategy.

When you access the Strategy Implementation screen, the Strategy Implementation: Select Strategies window will be presented. Select one, more, or all strategies.

Fields on the Strategy Implementation Table are the following:

  • Strategy (name)

    This column provides the name of the strategy. A strategy may appear more than once, because each player impact of a strategy appears on a separate row. In other words, there is a row in this table for every strategy-to-player combination.

  • Expected Impact

    This column provides the player name and the expected changes in position and/or power that you have entered.

  • Success (%) (Period)

    This field records the strategy's level of success that you observe at different time periods, compared to your expected impact. The field will accept percent values between 0% and 100%, and automatically shades the display with a color codes based on your input. There is one column for each of three time periods. To set the time periods, see the Project Settings. Values are color coded based on quintile.

The Implementation Table allows you to sort all rows by strategy name, by level of success for the three periods, or by whether an assignment has been made.

Right-click on a row to make changes to the values and select Edit - the Edit Strategy Implementation box will be displayed.


Summary and Settings



PolicyMaker has the ability to generate an HTML report of the entire project. Click on the Summary option under Summary and Settings. A single-page report of the project will be displayed.

Project Settings

The Project Settings window is accessible from the Summary and Settings Menu.

All data on the Project Settings window applies to the current project only.

The top panel on the Project Settings window allows you to view and edit basic data concerning your project. The following fields are editable:

  • Full Project Name

    You can use the Full Project Name field to define the full name for your project. This is the name (key) of the project in Local Storage. Only the first 45 characters of the Project Name will appear in the Projects window. You may want to phrase your project name so that the most important information appears in the first 25 characters which always show on screen. In some cases, you may want to start the project name with your name.

  • Analyst Name

    The Analyst field can be used to record who prepared the analysis.

  • Client Name

    The Client Name field can be used to record who commissioned or requested the analysis.

  • Policy Date

    The Policy Date identifies the time period of the project.

  • Analysis Date

    The Analysis Date identifies when the analysis was done.

  • Implementation Periods

    The Strategy Implementation Table allows you to enter information concerning the observed level of success for each strategy. Use these three fields to set the time periods you will use to track implementation. These values will appear as the column headings for the three probability columns on the table.

Click on Save to save your values to your project.

Customizing Lists and Levels

Following the main fields are five boxes that allow you to modify the contents of five drop-down list boxes associated with Players and Policy Content entries in PolicyMaker. When you create a project, each list is filled with a standard set of entries. You can then use the Lists feature to customize each list for a specific project.

Changing the contents of the lists will not change any of the data already entered. For example, if you delete "Commercial" from the Player Sector list, any players set as commercial will remain so. All four drop-down list boxes allow you to enter values that do not appear in the list, giving you wide flexibility when using the list-boxes in the program.

To change an entry in a list (such as to correct the spelling of an entry), delete the entry and then add the corrected entry. Deleting or adding an item saves the values.

For more information on the individual fields, consult the appropriate topic: