Guest blog by Abderrazak Mourchid
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.
When I applied for the Harvard Kennedy School IPP training in May 2020, I was looking to build up my capacity in public policy implementation, especially since I was mandated by the Head of Government of Morocco to develop the national business climate policy for Morocco for the next five years. It was the first time I had been invited to carry out such a strategic exercise for my country. The complexity of the exercise lies in the fact that it involves a variety of stakeholders and that it was necessary to determine the priorities for Morocco in the medium term in order to develop the private sector and improve the attractiveness of investment. This exercise was supported by a steering committee that I established and that includes the General Confederation of Moroccan Enterprises, the Ministry of Economy and Finance, the Ministry of Industry, the Ministry of Justice, and the Ministry of Internal affairs.
In view of these elements, I felt the need to use new approaches to succeed in this strategic exercise.
The PDIA approach and its various tools developed by Harvard Kennedy School allowed me to better structure the work of strategic thinking and to move forward in an iterative way to capture the real problems of the Moroccan private sector. “Proceed in small steps, stop to assess progress and adjust if necessary” is a common sense practice that allows me to see the challenges in depth. I have also learned that political and bureaucratic support is critical for stakeholder commitment throughout the public policy development and implementation process. A high-level political mandate is crucial when you are facing a policy challenge.
Moreover, one of the key lessons I must capitalize on in the next challenges, is that the perspective (perception and projection) of stakeholders is crucially important in the identification of reforms and public policies. The civil servant should in no way substitute for the final beneficiary in the identification of priorities.
Through the different lessons of the IPP training, I managed to carry out an in-depth diagnosis of the problems of the Moroccan private sector, using the Fishbone diagram. This diagnosis was carried out through an in-depth public-private dialogue with the participation of more than 200 enterprises of different sizes (large companies and SMEs) and about 40 ministerial departments and public organizations involved in improving the business climate in Morocco. The dialogue on the main constraints of the Moroccan private sector took three months and led to the following results:
- The importance to have the commitment and give visibility to the private sector ;
- Strengthening the framework of the public-private dialogue ;
- Implement a two-dimensional constraints analysis model: (i) the investor’s path from the creation of companies to the settlement of disagreements, including the performance of current operations and access to markets; (ii) and the nature of the constraints: procedural, regulatory, transparency, etc…;
- Identify 110 major constraints to the development of the Moroccan private sector.
The public-private dialogue did not stop at the level of identifying the major constraints because the challenge was to identify reform paths to eradicate these constraints that block, the private sector and to come up with a strategic roadmap for the next five years. To this end, I organized six ideation workshops (Hackathon) during one month that focused on six topics: administrative procedures, business law, access to finance, inclusion, human capital and infrastructure.
These Hackathons brought together 110 participants (42% from the private sector and 58% from the public sector) and generated more than 300 project proposals and reforms. The proposals were structured and consolidated into a set of 100 homogeneous projects.
In order to select the projects to be included in the strategic roadmap, I proceeded with my team to evaluate the impact and feasibility of each of these 100 proposals using the impact/feasibility matrix. This exercise allowed the team to select a portfolio of 30 projects with a high impact on the development of the private sector and a high degree of feasibility.
The process that I put in place with my team to achieve this result is inspired both by the PDIA approach and the experience I have built up over the last few years in managing complex projects.
The PDIA approach allowed me to see the challenge differently by putting into practice the tools associated to this approach. Political support (authorizer), communication, inclusive approach, continuous dialogue, assessment of learning, capitalization, leadership development are all elements that have contributed to the successful implementation of IPP training. This learning will certainly change my vision of facing complex challenges in the coming years, by adopting the magic square: what did you do?, what did you learn?, what are you struggling with? and what is next?
I also think that this learning should be shared with my collaborators who face complex problems. To this end, and using the PDIA toolkit, I have begun to map my own learning from this IPP training into a “practice manual” for my institution’s knowledge management. This manual will certainly serve as a basis for addressing future challenges.
Some learnings and leads from the implementation of the PDIA approach
Finally, I think that dealing with complex problems, needs to explore innovative approaches. PDIA is one of them. The key word for this approach is iteration, iteration and iteration. We must not be afraid to iterate several times in order to capture the real problems and the most impactful solutions. Iteration should not be seen as a waste of time, on the contrary, it is a trajectory that allows us to move serenely and efficiently towards the response to the complex challenges we face.