IPP Program Journey: Jumping the Wall

Guest blog written by Mohamed Hejres

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 7-month blended learning course in December 2019. These are their learning journey stories.

I applied for this course as I was seeking clarity on best practice and innovation that would support my organization. The issue that I had identified was the methods that the Bahrain government adopted towards addressing, designing, advocating and implementing public policy initiatives. I was seeking ways that my organization, the Bahrain Economic Development Board (BEDB), could be an effective part of the government process.

The Bahrain Economic Development Board became an advisory body (exclusive to the government), to support policy advocacy and policy implementation. This came after a major restructuring of the government. However, I found that our role could be more efficient.

I felt that we, BEDB, require adding value, as I saw a standard approach towards any policy. This is done through a single project manager, where he/she would request for a benchmarking activity with issue in hand. No innovation nor engagement processes, which is commonly used internationally.

I saw an opportunity in this course. Little did I know that this was going to be a life changing experience. I felt excited once I was accepted into the program. The excitement had no limit, but I was concerned about whether this course would really benefit my hunger to bring some more effective methods to how we, in Bahrain government, deal with policy development and/or policy change.

The method of which the course started had enabled me to start with enthusiasm, especially the course material and videos which we had before the start of the course in Boston.

Also, it will be unfair to limit learnings of this course to few. I would start with the main word that attracted me to this experience, “iterative adaptation”. I have been practicing policy development and change, where I had understood some part of the Iterative Adaptation; however, this has enabled me to have a clear path towards employing it and involving teams in such an approach. My colleagues in this course were amazing, they shared all their views and many success, and many times, failures as well. This was an amazing experience and learning curve for me. Continue reading IPP Program Journey: Jumping the Wall

Public Leadership Through Crisis 15: The COVID-19 Crisis in Bahrain

written by Matt Andrews

The Public Leadership Through Crisis blog series offers ideas for leaders questioning how they can help and what kind of leadership is required in the face of a crisis (like the COVID-19 pandemic).

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Hamad Almalki is the Undersecretary for National Economy at Bahrain’s Ministry of Finance and National Economy. He is a graduate of the Edward S. Mason mid-career Masters in Public Administration program at the Harvard Kennedy School.

My Zoom interview captures Hamad’s reflections (as of April 3) on Bahrain’s response to the covid-19 pandemic. It is an interesting case, especially because Bahrain has –to date—managed to control the crisis better than most other countries (as evidenced in the relatively flat  curve here—the red line at the bottom of the chart, showing  the situation on April 2-3).

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It should be noted that Bahrain is an island-state in the Middle East with a population of about 1.5 to 2 million people. That makes it about the same size as Philadelphia in the United  States, or just more than twice the size of Boston. It is similar in size, or larger, than many countries (including Latvia, Estonia, Trinidad and Tobago, Timor-Leste, Cyprus, Mauritius, Malta, Iceland, and more). I make this observation because the case will be more relevant to specific places or levels of government than others (as with all cases).

This post works progressively  through different parts of the interview, such that readers (and listeners) can more easily digest thoughts emanating from the full 1.5 hours. As with all blog posts, I conclude with a set of questions for reader reflection.

PART 1. A strong, inclusive, coordinated head start

Bahrain began preparing for the Covid-19 crisis 3 weeks before they experienced the first case. They “watched China very closely” and knew it was just a matter of time before the virus came to their shores. A 24 hour War Room was operational by February 13, coordinating an inclusive, varied group of experts focused on three streams of work – medical, economic, and social. The focus on  all three streams from the start has meant that Bahrain has been able to balance concerns in all three streams at all  times. Continue reading Public Leadership Through Crisis 15: The COVID-19 Crisis in Bahrain