Infusing fresh blood using PDIA in Nigeria’s Blood Services

Guest blog by Adaeze Oreh

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 signed up for the Harvard Kennedy School Implementing Public Policy programme, I thought I knew quite a bit about my policy challenge! I was applying to the programme basically to figure out new concepts and get new tools that would help me as Director of Planning for Nigeria’s Blood Services agency implement those ideas my organisation already had about solving Nigeria’s blood safety problem. You see, my country has a population of over 200 million people and for decades has been bedevilled by a frustrating lack of ready availability of safe blood to meet the country’s needs. This gap has contributed immensely to high maternal death rates, and the large number of children who die before the age of five. As an organisation, we had some ideas in our toolbox to address this, and I hoped IPP under Matt Andrews and the HKS faculty’s guidance would provide the magic bullet for implementation. I was not prepared for the level of insight that the course would provide.

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Economic growth strategies in North Macedonia

Guest blog by Jones Anthony

This is a blog series written by the alumni of the Leading Economic Growth Executive Education Program at the Harvard Kennedy School. 65 Participants successfully completed this 10-week online course in May 2021. These are their learning journey stories.

– Growth challenge: Slower economic growth compared to neighboring countries     

– Country/region/municipality: North Macedonia (NM)

  • What are some key ideas/learnings that you will take away from this course?

I gained a deep understanding of several key economic growth and public policy ideas from the course. The Product Space analysis is a game changer for my work on all future targeted industry strategies. Instead of focusing primarily on the industry concentrations and their growth rates (Location Quotients) for a country/region/city, I am now equipped to target those more complex industry sectors that will have the biggest impact on advancing economic growth and increasing the knowhow of the economy. I am also eagerly awaiting the City/Region Complexity Index in May, which I believe will be transformational for local economic development practitioners across the globe.

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Debt Management Strategies in Kenya

Guest blog by Fredrick Oluoch Odhiambo

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.

1. What were your expectations of IPP Online when you signed up?

When I expressed an interest in the Implementing Public Policy (IPP) at the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) Program, I was not sure I would get accepted, especially during these crises around the globe, particularly the COVID-19 pandemic that was ravaging the world indiscriminately. In terms of my expectations for the course, I thought it would be theoretical, book-oriented program with some interaction space and lots of academic work to do. To my surprise, the HKS program turned out to be an exciting experience that was not entirely theoretical, boring or book oriented. I really learned by engaging and participating through the groups and experiences of our professors.

My hope was that the IPP course would provide me with insight and new skills on how to navigate the political forum and how to be held in esteem with senior leaders to advance my initiative among the over one hundred other corporate priorities currently in-flight. I have never in my life been so captivated without getting distracted or weary from listening to a speaker. I was surprised to see a few key PDIA elements similar to the trainings I have received from other courses in my career. In particular, the cause and effect, or fishbone diagram approach to brainstorming true root causes of an issue which I have learned in the past 20 years in my education career. I finally learned from Matt Andrews the true nuances of why one couldn’t expect to apply the same approaches in the public sector with the same results.

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Complexities of multiple stakeholders in developing hydroelectricity in Pakistan

Guest blog by Masood Ul Mulk

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.

I lead a public service organization (nonprofit) working in the northwest border regions of Pakistan, bordering Afghanistan, known for its turbulence, delivering development and humanitarian aid. The government presence is thin on the ground and service delivery in the region remains poor. Government policies change rapidly, as individuals and personalities change in government. Institutional culture is weak in the area and policy and implementation revolve around networks and social relationships. Conflict, space allowed to public service organisations, turf issues between civilian and military authorities, conservative culture, tribal values, sectarian divides, all add up to the uncertainty and complexity of working in the region. As practitioners we face the conflicting challenge of, on one hand meeting the needs of the poor and vulnerable communities in an uncertain and complex environment; while on the other hand satisfying policy makers and donors, who because of their training and accountability requirements design policy solutions which are rigid and linear to address these problems with little success.  For us the challenge is explaining to them the complex situation on the ground and the need for an iterative, adaptive and learning approach to address the complexity.  Reading about PDIA, had convinced me that exposure to the course on implementing public policy at Harvard will help me better understand where the policy makers and donors are coming from, and how I should be convincing them to adopt a radically different solution to the intractable problems on the ground which was based on responsiveness, iteration and learning. I also know that if I, a practitioner on the border regions of Pakistan, say this it will carry very little weight, but if I have the Kennedy School to back me up it will be a different proposition altogether. In this sense the course was of immense help to me and to my organization. It clarified concepts and gave me the tools to address such issues in a better way.

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A reflection on changing policy process to PDIA methodology

Guest blog by Ben Wehmeier

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.

  • What were your expectations of IPP Online when you signed up?

As I made the decision, there were two primary reasons I looked to sign up.  The first was the goal for professional development.  My main focus in my early career and formal education had really been on legal analysis and leadership/management, resulting in a more tactful to strategic level. As my career has evolved, I have developed a greater desire to be engaged in the high level strategic/policy issues and learn how to move this forward at different level of government.  My second desire was the specific goal of helping develop tools to coach my current organization through an entire process of policy development to implementation.

When I started my current role, the organization thought very highly of their planning process.  Although I appreciated many of the efforts, there were two significant criticisms of these efforts.  The first was the time it took to get through these processes, and that they lingered.  The second main critic was despite lots of planning, there was a lack of execution and implementation of said plans and policies.  In many cases, these were recurring themes through multiple processes that were never moved forward. Recognizing these past criticisms and concerns, the timing of this concern overlapped with the development of a significant policy update for my organization.  My goal was not to just do the plan to meet legal requirements and sit on the shelf, but to be the basis of future plan of work efforts that will help with resource alignment to accomplish needs of our communities.

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Exploring economic diversification in Azerbaijan

Guest blog by Gasimli Vusal

This is a blog series written by the alumni of the Leading Economic Growth Executive Education Program at the Harvard Kennedy School. 65 Participants successfully completed this 10-week online course in May 2021. These are their learning journey stories.

“Leading Economic Growth” program gave us the know-how we can start implementing to promote economic growth in our city, region, or country at this difficult time. Staff ensured us that the more we invest, the more we will derive from the program. 

My country, Azerbaijan, tripled its economy during the last 15 years and aims to double its economy relying on non-oil sector in the next 10 years. In post-conflict and post-pandemic period, accelerating growth is major target of Azerbaijan’s five national priorities outlined in the country’s “2030 Strategy,” which has been based on the United Nations’ “Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”. After the peace agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan in November 2020, the latter immediately set to work on the decontamination, reconstruction, rehabilitation and reintegration of liberated Karabakh, which had suffered enormous destruction over the course of the occupation over the last 30 years. Reintegration of newly-released territories and 6 percent population growth perspective by 2030 create new opportunities and challenges from growth perspectives.

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Developing the agriculture sector in Gabon

Guest blog by Dadja Tabo

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.

My background and goals

As a leader of audit and advisory assignments working in a Big 4 consulting firm, I have developed an expertise in accompanying public sector clients (ministries, central administrations, states owned companies) in different fields of public policy making, policy evaluation (SMEs & private sector, investment promotion strategy, development of agricultural sector).

While attending HKS programs, I expected to enhance my capabilities in economic development and public policy matters such as: (i) understanding key concepts of economic growth, (ii) acquiring tools to design, implement and assess public policies in the perspective of growth, (iii) sharing best practices with other executives. Finally, my ultimate goal was to acquire new skills to impact on the economic development of African countries.

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Examining economic inequity in King County, Washington

Guest blog by Allison Ashton

This is a blog series written by the alumni of the Leading Economic Growth Executive Education Program at the Harvard Kennedy School. 65 Participants successfully completed this 10-week online course in May 2021. These are their learning journey stories.

Growth challenge: My growth challenge is regional economic inequity. The reason it matters is because BIPOC communities, women, and workers with lower levels of educational attainment in King County are experiencing increasing barriers to opportunity that inhibit their success and potential to contribute to and benefit from our tremendous regional economic success.

Country/region/municipality: King County, WA, USA

King County, Washington, is currently experiencing simultaneous crises in public health, the economy, and social justice. The ripple effects of these crises are likely to last many years into the future and change our society forever. While challenging, these crises are giving us once-in-a-century opportunities to build back better and avoid the mistakes we’ve made coming out of previous recessions, which have exacerbated inequities.

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Improving Food Safety Standards in Ukraine

Guest blog by Kateryna Onul

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.

The COVID-19 crisis has coincided with reform within my organization and an urgent need to find new approaches to working with the public sector in different parts of the world. I was looking for tools that could help me continue working on improving policy and regulatory frameworks in the food safety sector despite the turbulence of the environment in all dimensions. 

Even before the COVID-19 crisis, it became clear that as economic ties changed and new political forces and scientific paradigms emerged, the need for new approaches to the development and implementation of public policies became acute. The COVID-19 crisis has become a catalyst that clearly shows areas where traditional approaches to implementing public policies are no longer efficient. I have read many times in various sources about the PDIA approach, which made it possible to find solutions to problems in the political dimension when there are many unknowns and uncertainties. I understood that completing the IPP Course would give me the opportunity to study PDIA both in theory and practice. Unfortunately, due to the intensive work schedule, I did not have the opportunity to leave for six months and immerse myself in student life. I took the opportunity to take the IPP Harvard Program Online as great luck that I did not miss.

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Slowing the rate of sprawl development in the U.S. using PDIA

Guest blog by Ryan Yetzer

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 signed up for this course, I really didn’t know what to expect. One minute I was offered this amazing opportunity by our Mayor, and the next minute I’m receiving e-mails and course materials from the Harvard Kennedy School. I was excited for the experience, but certainly nervous as well. Once the course started, I quickly realized how much I would learn over the next few months and was thrilled to be awarded this opportunity by our Mayor.  

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