National Capitol, Colombia

Implementing good decisions in my life: Applying IPP to the judicial system in Colombia

5 mins read

Guest blog written by Catalina Mesa Ramirez

The best decision at the right time. When we felt that a pandemic had overtaken us, when we observed that despite scientific progress in the creation of the long-awaited vaccine against Covid 19, its different sub-classifications were still a threat to humans and even more importantly, becoming vulnerable to the point of seeing our hopes broken, however as an effect we saw our country in the worst possible situation and in the specific case of Colombia we saw it fall before adversity, but it was a moment of clarity to see that it is one of the causes of the great problems facing our beautiful country. And it was just at that moment where I needed to contribute, but for her I had to unlearn and learn. And it was there when I decided to take the course of Implementation Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, and now I can say that there could not be a better starting point. It was in this space that I managed to understand that I was part of the problem; we must first change the way we have self-defined and perceived fundamental concepts in the development of a society. As an advisor and consultant, I feel the duty to transmit and communicate the valuable treasure that the HKS team left me and especially in the interventions of Matt Andrews since when you listen to him you wish that the world and especially the rulers all had the opportunity to access their knowledge. It is really shocking. In this blog, it is impossible to summarize the new learnings, however I will do my best effort to describe beautiful gifts that the experience at HARVARD has left me with.

I have learned to use the Problem Driven Iterative Adaption (PDIA) approach. In my particular case, I thought before arriving at this wonderful course that I had clearly demarcated what the problem was in which I wanted to focus my efforts in being part of the solution. The learning process through interaction and adaptation is so real that even when I thought I knew my problem, I ended up discovering I did not, and from its complexity I understood that as I redefined and itemization the challenge, this generated more passion in the search for a solution. I understood that the really big step is in that leap from ideas to action, to implementation. In these 4 months at the HARVARD KENNEDY SCHOOL, I managed to make the leap, among other things, because I understood the importance of working as a team, listening to different points of view, different contributions, the importance of giving freedom to build, express opinions and create, distribute tasks according to previously identified roles. And form such a team where everyone in turn is willing to sacrifice something to achieve the objectives. It is incredible to discover how it facilitates work to do it as a team, under the learned rules of how to do it effectively, how you do not fail with the equipment to do so, and what not to do in order to not waste time and wear out the interest that was so difficult to achieve in most cases.

When working as a team, we took the different ideas and we collected the information about the mistakes and the successes. I learned and finally I was able to achieve a product that now I can show in my country to the authorizers. Now I can arrive in Colombia and propose a product that can regain confidence in the administration of justice in Colombia. I do not feel anxious to have “NO” for an answer because I will simply return to an iteration that may involve redefining or even setting new ideas, but I already have an experiential learning system thanks to my public policy implementation course.

I cannot fail to mention the incredible 4P leadership model, which is a very useful tool to analyze public policies. I am currently applying it to regain the trust that has been lost in the administration of justice in Colombia. I am using it to be able to approach authorizers and interested parties in the right way so that they give me real support in a legislative initiative that seeks to regulate the jury of conscience that, although our political constitution as the maximum norm enshrines it in its content has been ignored as a possible solution to our current problems. The 4P model was fundamental because in using these techniques, I managed to awaken interest in the development of that public policy that I had not previously achieved. I have achieved significant contributions in favor and opinions to take into account to improve. Now it’s easier to demonstrate that citizenship will can as part of the solution.

The Wilkinson 4P leadership model is a tool that when using I was able to verify how my support network expanded significantly. Four elements that I ignored before starting these studies were now fundamental in the structuring of my public policy that aims to improve the administration justice in Colombia and with this, in turn, regain confidence in it. These are central elements that are now part of my challenge, that is, perception, process, people and projection.

Before having the fortune to study at Harvard Kennedy School, I joined the group of people who confused leadership with positions of power or was one of those people whose definition reduced it to the position.

It is important to note that seeing leadership as something that flows through to a person way down an organization, deprives or slows down development in countries, and if we who have the opportunity to advise those people who are in positions of power have access to this quality information, we are obliged to be part of a change, not only in the implementation of our public policy but also in making decisions that interest an entire community and how they are built effectively.

Through the Public Policy Implementation course, we learned about Multiagent Leadership in action, which is leadership, understanding who leads, how they lead, when and why they lead change. I understood that development is about change, change is about people, and people need to be guided. Leadership is not just about political ideas and getting the right political idea, it is about getting the right people, doing the right things, at the right times, and that’s where we ask ourselves: how to do it? Those answers I found in this wonderful course.

Given the type of research that I am developing in the framework of improving the administration of justice in Colombia, I was able to understand that the effective implementation of complex political challenges requires the leadership of multiple agents and not individual heroes. I cannot explain in the lines of this blog the impact that understanding of this concept of leadership changed my way of working, studying and even interacting in various areas of my life.

Learning that leadership occurs when interacting agents generate adaptive results were just what I needed at this time so as not to let a global crisis such as the COVID 19 pandemic take away our hopes of true change in institutions and countries.

The world is going through a moment of visible discontent with the administration of justice in Colombia and its reform faces enormous challenges, among them the legitimacy of power, the antipathy of citizens for the institutions, and disaffection with the public. Currently, the virtual environment where social networks feed polarization, weakening public institutions and creating a new relationship between the citizen and the State, an environment of constant confrontation and misinformation that permanently erodes trust and generates constant insecurity was already drawing me the perfect moment to start out my studies. Because today more than ever is when we need true leaders of those who mobilize people to take advantage of new opportunities and address difficult problems as the situation changes and thus structure the relevant public policy and implement it correctly.

I can only thank for the added value that the advice that I provide to the public and private entities in my country now has because I am sure that each concept that I deliver will be framed in the concepts and techniques learned in this wonderful course. Thanks HKS team for giving me back the hope that everything can be better and that I can be part of the solution.

Here are the notes of a beginner wanting to be part of the change

Here are the valuable people who also gave me this wonderful course




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 2021. These are their learning journey stories.

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