Examining Rising Teacher Shortages in the United States

Guest blog by Razan Alayed, Aleena Ali, Ryan S. Herman, Cecilia Liang, Krizia Lopez

There were many lessons to be extracted from this course and through applying the Problem-Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA) approach to our concurrently ordinary and extraordinary problem. The issue of teacher shortage has existed for many years and is persisting in the United States, with the pandemic exacerbating and laying bare the public education system. Through iterative thinking and discussions, we as a team were able to narrow and focus our problem to what was relevant to our authorizer and her context, as well as surface the causes that continue to influence the issue at hand. Specifically, the PDIA process has taught us to dig deeper into root causes and distill them into comprehensive understandings; in fact, we discovered along the way that some sub-causes are shared among larger entry points, which was pivotal to defining our ideas and action steps. This process taught us that starting with small ideas and growing them is key to the iterative approach, since we were able to take frequent pauses, reflect, modify and then go back into the solution space. This also allowed us to experiment with our ideas and to obtain timely feedback through stakeholder interviews prior to investing time and resources on ideas that may not work in our context. Suffice to say that this experience has been fruitful for our professional journeys, and we will be taking these learnings as we move forward in our careers.

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Addressing Atoyac river pollution in Mexico

Guest blog by Santiago Creuheras

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 was eager to learn from Matt Andrews and his team about implementing public policies. I was hoping to meet a group of high caliber students from all over the world willing to share their experiences. My expectations were high, and I am extremely pleased with this course’s outcome and results. The personal, professional, and academic quality of my virtual classmates was unique and impressive. Their experiences have built on my own. I am thankful for their support to redefine my challenge. Peer group exchanges have been one of the highlights of the program. Having an informal team of supporters and performing regular check-ins with each other has been very useful. It has kept us motivated and might be something we should continue doing going forward.

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Adventures in Public Policy Implementation: Confronting a Hero Complex in the Quest for the One True Goal

(aka The One with the Giant Marshmallow Monster)

Guest blog by Mario Ivan Martija

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.

“Select a policy you would like to implement in the next six months” said the IPP program’s instructions. Easy. Having previously led programs that benefited a few Baja California’s industries, choosing another program for a successful short-term implementation would be a walk in the park, especially that now I would have the added-value and glamour attached to a Harvard methodology.

Or so I arrogantly thought.

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Alleviating homelessness in Toronto

Guest blog by Rob Graham

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 public policy implementation challenge is the alleviation of homelessness in Toronto. The problem is getting worse as evidenced by the increasing number of homeless, the frequency and severity of their comorbidities and the increasing demand for shelter services like housing support, mental health, addictions, other medical needs, clothing, beds for the night and battling food insecurity.

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Leading Economic Growth: Adapting the Wyoming Energy Industry

Guest blog by Kaeci Daniels

This is a blog series written by the alumni of the Leading Economic Growth Executive Education Program at the Harvard Kennedy School. 61 Participants successfully completed this 10-week online course in December 2021. These are their learning journey stories.

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

  • 1804 as a communication tool – The 1804 example was a good analogy to get people to understand that the problem is hard to understand. Using this example as a communication tool may be a great way to get buy-in and resources for the growth strategy team.
  • Fishbone Diagram – The fishbone diagram to is a great tool to find entry points on complex problems. Crafting the right team to develop the fishbone diagram is essential for fully grasping the growth problem and its sub-problems.
  • PDIA and SLDC – PDIA is nimble for finding and testing solutions when the problem is not well understood. SLDC can be beneficial when a problem is well defined, as shown in the Singapore example.
  • Inclusion over redistribution – This was significant. Redistribution of resources does not necessarily enable growth and it may even create disincentives for production. If government is to use public funds to promote growth, it should be done in a way that captures people outside of accessible markets and creates opportunity for new markets to emerge or be engaged. A focus on inclusion can mean the difference in a long-term widespread growth policy versus short-term accommodations.
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Addressing a remittance backlog in the U.S.

Guest blog by Loretta Minott

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.

It has been almost twenty years since I graduated from college. At least fifteen years since I have been involved in an instructor-led collegiate level course. As a mother to a toddler, going “back to school” was not in my plan. But I had a superior who believed in my ability and thought this program would be a great opportunity for me to strengthen my resume and add upon my qualifications. Applying to the program was a breeze. I then anxiously waited to find out if I had been accepted. I was overjoyed when I was accepted. I mean, this is Harvard! That joy quickly turned to fear. As I read the professional profiles of those in my cohort, I remember saying out loud “What did I get myself in to?” I mean, who was I? I had a bachelor’s degree from Temple University, an unfinished graduate degree, and I was now in a course with folks who hold PhD’s from some of the most prestigious universities. How would I align with these people? I would shortly find out that everything was going to be just fine. I ended up in a breakout group with some of the most supportive and kind colleagues. We became fast friends and we pushed each other to complete the course in its entirety.

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Building resilience into U.S. government functions

Guest blog by Adam Harrison

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.

IPP Learning Journey: Learning in the Age of Pandemic

In early 2020, I was lucky enough to be selected into the Harvard Kennedy School’s executive education class, “Implementing Public Policy (IPP).” I was thrilled that my supervisors at work had shown the confidence in me and interest in my development to make this opportunity available. Even more, I was excited to spend a week in Cambridge with a diverse group of professionals from across the country and the world. The experience would be enriching . . . and a few good meals in Boston’s North End would be pretty nice, too. 

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Examining options for food and drug supply safety in the U.S. in response to pandemic restrictions

Guest blog by Laura Draski

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 first applied to be part of the Implementing Public Policy cohort, I expected to learn much about various techniques, tools and theories used in implementing policy. About the nuts and bolts of how to design and create policy that can be implemented. About how to manage a process of complex and intersecting implementation. I would graduate with a toolkit to pull out of my belt and a formula complete with a calculator to plug in my variables and expected outcomes of measured success. Indeed, the Harvard Kennedy School Playbook for Implementing Policy.

And I did learn tangible tools and some phenomenal ideologies and guiding principles. Problem Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA) is now part of how I see and respond to the world. I talk about teaming, snowflake models and trust triangles as if they’re a normal part of dinner conversation. I pride myself in being able to construct a mean and comprehensive Fishbone Diagram. And, truly, these are all helpful skills and knowledge to draw upon when considering complex policy problems.

But what I didn’t expect to learn in this course was about leadership and how much your own leadership skills can influence not only a successful policy outcome, but the leadership ability and success of others. About the importance of building relationships (and it’s all about the relationships), and about learning from and influencing others. I was struck by the model of multi-agent leadership where risk is shared and where true leaders acknowledge that complex problems can only be solved when you mobilize and provide opportunity for others to exert their leadership.

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Analyzing Wyoming’s economic growth process and challenges using LEG tools

Guest blog by Marcio Paes-Barreto

This is a blog series written by the alumni of the Leading Economic Growth Executive Education Program at the Harvard Kennedy School. 61 Participants successfully completed this 10-week online course in December 2021. These are their learning journey stories.

When I got my first job in the field of economic development I started reading everything I could about it. I started noticing a stark difference in the rationale and methodologies proposed by the books I was reading. After a while it was possible for me to separate what I was going to read (even before I got deep in the book) into two categories: strategy/marketing books and development economics/economics books.

In my professional life I had my fair share of experiences with marketing and the readings of Porter, Kotler and Chernev. So the second category was the one that disappeared quickly as I learned interesting new things from the thoughts of economists like Acemoglu, Mazzucato, Duflo and Moretti. And, of course, from the usual suspects like Adam Smith, David Ricardo, and Joseph Schumpeter. I felt ready for my first day of work.

Well no plan survives contact with reality. The struggle in the regions I was working with were real and the resources that people had available to deal with their challenges did not seem appropriate. Pre-packed solutions from consultants abounded and nobody seemed to be talking about economics when trying to understand the root cause of their problems. Lucky me. I met a Senator from my region with an economics background and working experience with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), World Bank and the Inter American Development Bank (IDB). There was so much to learn from these experiences.

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