Implementing online services in Manila, Philippines

Guest blog by Chris Tenorio

This is a blog series written by the alumni of the Implementing Public Policy Executive Education Program at the Harvard Kennedy School. Participants successfully completed this 6-month online learning course in December 2020. These are their learning journey stories.

A simple communication via email dated June 4, 2020 from Prof. Matt Andrews inviting me to be part of the Implementing Public Policy (IPP) Program made me think if whether or not this program would further improve my way of governance in public office and enhance my knowledge on managing public challenge even though I already had an overview about Problem Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA) as discussed by Prof. Matt in his book Building State Capability and in the previous program, Leading Economic Growth. Such email, which clearly explained the overview of the program and brief enumeration of tools that can be used in exploring several frameworks of implementation, convinced me to be part of the cohort for six (6) months.

As Prof. Matt introduced the program, he asked us to identify the public policy challenge in our own organization or office that we would want to devote our dedication and commitment during the duration of the program and utilizing PDIA principles and processes in addressing the identified challenge. I decided to work on the implementation of online services which can be implemented by our office—the Manila Civil Registry Office.

At the onset of the discussion, I saw a systematic way on how the IPP Team gradually led us to a bigger picture as the program started about the “plan and control” approach to public policy implementation which involves the following key parts: a. the planning stage; b. the ‘lock in’ period of the project/program; c. the mobilization of the resources; d. the implementation of the project/program according to the plan; and e. the evaluation or monitoring of the implemented project/program in order to establish accountability. This discussion is being linked to the concept of ‘unknowns’ and the types of challenges (a. simple policy challenge; b. complicated policy challenge; and c. complex policy challenge), which leaders should be aware of as these could also prolong or hinder the success of the programs or projects of an organization.  

Moreover, as part of the PDIA approach, I highly appreciate the extensive discussion about ‘ishikawa’ diagram or the fishbone with a combination of providing the IPP students an iteration template which is indispensable on tracking  our weekly updates and activities about out implementation challenge. In addition, to capture learning and foster reflection, I adapted set of questions being used in PDIA practice, to wit: a. What did you do?; b. What results emerged; c. What did you learn?; d. What did you struggle with?; and e. What was next?.

Furthermore, discussion about taking small steps and figuring out small wins in every iteration with proper recognition from the leader or team can really foster motivation to each member of the group. With this iterative process, policy adaptations and pivots can easily be applied or implemented to identify the immediate needs and obstacles that the team sometimes never anticipated in the project. This is also vital to a leader to communicate clearly with the team and help the members in different phases in the iterative process, gather information and immediately provide decisions.

Prof. Rob Wilkinson’s model about the 4Ps Model for Strategic Leadership pertaining to perception, projection, people, and process is a great summary and guiding point on how any leader will turn his/her leadership skills into an exemplary conduct. What is also important to point out in this 4Ps Model is the way Prof. Rob explains the internal and external effects of each ‘P’ in the leadership approach.

All these combined principles and processes in the IPP program developed my competency in governing my implementation challenge including my communication skills in order to transfer the learnings to the members of the team despite the presence of COVID-19 pandemic. With the use of available communication technologies like the internet, e-mail, social media platforms, and other sound-based and video-based applications and subsequently with face-to-face interactions, we managed to initially create and improve our online services in our office focusing first to only one of the services that we catered to the Manila residents and other individuals who are securing civil documents from our office.  

Being new in applying the principles and processes from the IPP Program, I, together with the members of my team, will consistently utilize these learnings not only in our office but also in other future undertakings. As Prof. Matt mentioned in his lecture series, we need to work hard as it is not easy to apply PDIA, thus, it is essential to maintain our advocacy and commitment, learn and acquire opportunities from other implementation challenges of our fellow PDIA practitioners, and continue to communicate with them as we are one big family in the IPP community.

A simple communication via email dated June 4, 2020 from Prof. Matt Andrews inviting me to be part of the Implementing Public Policy (IPP) Program made me think if whether or not this program would further improve my way of governance in public office and enhance my knowledge on managing public challenge even though I already had an overview about Problem Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA) as discussed by Prof. Matt in his book Building State Capability and in the previous program, Leading Economic Growth. Such email, which clearly explained the overview of the program and brief enumeration of tools that can be used in exploring several frameworks of implementation, convinced me to be part of the cohort for six (6) months.

As Prof. Matt introduced the program, he asked us to identify the public policy challenge in our own organization or office that we would want to devote our dedication and commitment during the duration of the program and utilizing PDIA principles and processes in addressing the identified challenge. I decided to work on the implementation of online services which can be implemented by our office—the Manila Civil Registry Office.

At the onset of the discussion, I saw a systematic way on how the IPP Team gradually led us to a bigger picture as the program started about the “plan and control” approach to public policy implementation which involves the following key parts: a. the planning stage; b. the ‘lock in’ period of the project/program; c. the mobilization of the resources; d. the implementation of the project/program according to the plan; and e. the evaluation or monitoring of the implemented project/program in order to establish accountability. This discussion is being linked to the concept of ‘unknowns’ and the types of challenges (a. simple policy challenge; b. complicated policy challenge; and c. complex policy challenge), which leaders should be aware of as these could also prolong or hinder the success of the programs or projects of an organization.  

Moreover, as part of the PDIA approach, I highly appreciate the extensive discussion about ‘ishikawa’ diagram or the fishbone with a combination of providing the IPP students an iteration template which is indispensable on tracking  our weekly updates and activities about out implementation challenge. In addition, to capture learning and foster reflection, I adapted set of questions being used in PDIA practice, to wit: a. What did you do?; b. What results emerged; c. What did you learn?; d. What did you struggle with?; and e. What was next?.

Furthermore, discussion about taking small steps and figuring out small wins in every iteration with proper recognition from the leader or team can really foster motivation to each member of the group. With this iterative process, policy adaptations and pivots can easily be applied or implemented to identify the immediate needs and obstacles that the team sometimes never anticipated in the project. This is also vital to a leader to communicate clearly with the team and help the members in different phases in the iterative process, gather information and immediately provide decisions.

Prof. Rob Wilkinson’s model about the 4Ps Model for Strategic Leadership pertaining to perception, projection, people, and process is a great summary and guiding point on how any leader will turn his/her leadership skills into an exemplary conduct. What is also important to point out in this 4Ps Model is the way Prof. Rob explains the internal and external effects of each ‘P’ in the leadership approach.

All these combined principles and processes in the IPP program developed my competency in governing my implementation challenge including my communication skills in order to transfer the learnings to the members of the team despite the presence of COVID-19 pandemic. With the use of available communication technologies like the internet, e-mail, social media platforms, and other sound-based and video-based applications and subsequently with face-to-face interactions, we managed to initially create and improve our online services in our office focusing first to only one of the services that we catered to the Manila residents and other individuals who are securing civil documents from our office.  

Being new in applying the principles and processes from the IPP Program, I, together with the members of my team, will consistently utilize these learnings not only in our office but also in other future undertakings. As Prof. Matt mentioned in his lecture series, we need to work hard as it is not easy to apply PDIA, thus, it is essential to maintain our advocacy and commitment, learn and acquire opportunities from other implementation challenges of our fellow PDIA practitioners, and continue to communicate with them as we are one big family in the IPP community.

Learn more about the Implementing Public Policy (IPP) Community of Practice and visit the course website to apply.

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