Why you need to think about digital policies (with Kristina Podnar)

Estimated read time: 3 minutes

Digital policies – think of them as boundaries – can help companies and their employees innovate in a defined playing field.

Kristina Podnar joined me on the Business Storytelling Podcast to talk about digital policies, guidelines and best practices. She has a pretty awesome newsletter on the topic as well that you can subscribe to here.

These are a sampling of highlights of what Kristina mentioned on the show.

What is the difference between a policy and a rule?

Policies are not rules. Policies are the keys to freedom. They are guardrails that ensure you don’t drive over the ledge.

Policies tell us how far we can go. Within the bounds everything is fair game and people can be innovative.

How to put together a digital policy

(2:03 mark)

Policies spell out what you should do on digital. Don’t fly by the seeds of your pants. Examples of what should be done on social media can help employees.

Think of it as a fenced in yard. You can play in the yard.

Policy or guidelines

(3:58 mark)

Policies are the hard rules.

Standards are how we should do things.

Guidelines are “use common sense” and other tips.

If people understand the culture guidelines can work. Use good judgment and don’t do dumb stuff.

How long should policies be?

(5:52 mark)

They don’t need to be long – 1-2 pages max. They should be integrated into where we do our work and not dreary documents that nobody looks at.

As tempting as it may be don’t copy someone else’s off the internet. That can lead to problems.

But first decide whether or not you even need a policy.

For example, in the EU employees of pharma companies can’t like company press releases from their personal accounts on social media. But the company could make it a goal to encourage employees to share culture stories.

Reminder: Employees need to follow FTC guidelines when posting about their company

When policies are short and clear they can help people avoid missteps that they wouldn’t have known about.

The global market space


Keep in mind global complexities. A small company of five employees can operate basically globally depending on their product. That also can dip into cloud assurance, accessibility, etc.

What if there are no policies?


Focus on plugging the holes to get started. In the starter phase, look at initial policies that are needed now. Find examples on Kristina’s website.

In addition, look at the practices. There are usually two scenarios here:

  1. Good practices and no documentation
  2. Good documentation and nobody is following it

Consider the risks specific to your industry and focus there.

Who should own the policies?


Legal? IT? Marketing? HR? At the end of the day make sure one person owns the process and no matter where they sit is authorized and can implement and consider what policies to move forward with.

Not all potential policies can be implemented. For example, startups sometimes have to be more risk taking to make it.

How to keep up with change?


Changes in laws, the market, etc. are triggers to updating your policies and the related practice. Also a reason to have somebody own the polices.

In addition policies need to be reviewed on intervals.



Despite some predictions that personalization will go away, she doesn’t believe that. Good policies are needed here, too.

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