Guiding policy is a component of Richard Rumelt's kernel of strategy. It describes an overall approach to overcoming the challenge defined in the strategic diagnosis with the aim of creating leverage or developing an advantage.
The guiding policy does not define goals, visions, or blue sky end states; it outlines an approach to the problem and—most importantly—points toward some possibilities while ruling out others. It imposes constraints or guardrails on how the organization should solve the problem.
A good guiding policy anticipates the actions of others, including competitors and consumers.
Guiding policy helps simplify a complex situation into a clear path forward, which can be pursued through a set of coherent actions.