The survival of Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) using PDIA

Guest blog by Tapasya Obhrai Nair

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 journey through the IPP course has been like the pilgrims’ progress. Every stop has given some insight and revelation and shown the path to the next stop or destination. I signed up for this course to learn from other practitioners of public policy about their experiences and the alternative ways of approaching problems. I felt that the course would equip me with new tools and methodologies to better understand issues and to find ways of addressing them. It has been more than a satisfying experience for me in this respect.

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Budgeting, planning, and economic strategy in Mozambique

Guest blog by Bruce Byiers

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.

Several years ago, I was involved in what seemed like quite a practical, consultative – perhaps even problem-driven – project in Mozambique: to better connect their ‘plan’, their ‘budget’ and their medium-term expenditure framework. As one might expect, this entailed multiple internal meetings in the Ministry of Finance, meetings with line Ministry staff involved, meetings with provincial staff, and workshops to discuss ways to link these connected but separate budget and planning processes. We came up with an agreed approach. But it was agreed at the technical level. The Minister never bought it. And so it never got anywhere.

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Building a coordinated service delivery model using PDIA

Guest blog by Debra Porchia-Usher

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.

Initial Expectations

I entered IPP Online Course with excitement and with the expectation that guidance would be provided to simplify the proposed ‘public policy challenge’ facing myself and my colleagues. The timing was great, as my colleagues and I had recently committed to the design and execution of a coordinated service delivery model of human services. The authorizing team of 12-15 human service leaders, including myself, made a firm visionary statement (“if not now, when”), affirming the commitment to get this done. I was sure that a guidebook would assist the team to develop an outline that would lead to an immediate solution. Essentially, an opportunity made simple and I believed that we, as a diverse team of providers, had all the pieces in place were for immediate action: 1) strong partnerships, 2) a common vision and goal, 3) motivated supporters, 4) County Chief Executive Office support, 5) consultant resources, 6) diverse group of champions, 7) community commitment to pilot the model in four communities and 8) a project timeline. It became very clear in the first two week of lectures and the introduction of PDIA, that our team did not have a clear understanding of the complexity of our problem, nor did we have a concise problem statement reflective of the intended goal. Early on, it also became evident that PDIA offered the Fishbone Diagram as a tool to map out the known and unknown factors. The input of the technical support and from peers on the fishbone identified additional gaps in knowledge, potential missed entry point opportunities and critical stakeholders. In addition, the diagram generated input from the larger stakeholder group which subsequently led to further clarification on the resource gaps and small win opportunities. The use of the Fishbone Diagram promoted an expanded thought process, strategic thinking about the actual problem at hand and extensive consideration of cause and effect influence within both the planning and execution of response to a complex policy challenge. 

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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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