Difference between Guideline and Policy

JayH   Tuesday, December 14, 2004, 21:40 GMT
I would like to discuss the differences between a Guideline and a Policy; www.dictionary.com uses "course of action" within bot definitions.

Policy: A plan or course of action, as of a government, political party, or business, intended to influence and determine decisions, actions, and other matters: American foreign policy; the company's personnel policy.

Guideline: A statement or other indication of policy or procedure by which to determine a course of action: guidelines for the completion of tax returns.

Now, I realize the difference that the two convey. One is the course of action, the other gives the course of action. But in terms of Guidelines and Policies for a company this is unacceptable. ie: Guideline for Filing New Mail or Policy for Filing New Mail.

You cannot just say that a Guideline is the Policies that the company asks you to follow, because that doesn't help, it just makes everything a guideline. Thanks in advance.

mjd   Tuesday, December 14, 2004, 22:27 GMT
I don't follow your logic.

Let's just say that all guidelines are policies:

guideline --> policy

not a policy --> not a guideline (contrapositive)

All guidelines are policies, but not all policies are guidelines.

Now, in your final sentence you seem to be saying:

guideline --> policy
policy --> guideline

This is flawed logic.
Jim   Wednesday, December 15, 2004, 00:22 GMT
Here's my impression. Guidlines and policies are similar but the former are more flexible and/or vague whereas the latter are more concrete and/or manditory.
Easterner   Wednesday, December 15, 2004, 13:28 GMT
I think a policy is the declared course of action to be followed in connection with a particular issue or activity, e.g. by the government of a country or a company, while guidelines serve to break down the general policy with regard to practical realisation. So the first one gives information as to "What?" and the other as to "How?". One area where this is so is quality management.
pat   Sunday, December 19, 2004, 04:19 GMT
A guideline is more like a suggestion, and it is more general. A policy is more strict and clearly defined. Thats the best explanation you will get.