Understanding the problem is critical to policy implementation

Guest blog by Mustapha Samateh

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.

After 11 years of public service- 7 years at the Central Bank and 4 years as Director at Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs, I joined the private sector a year ago serving as the Deputy Managing Director at the Investment and Commerce bank.  My experience in public sector made me believe that there is more than enough good public policy. The problem is implementation. This motivated me to take the Online Harvard Executive Education Program on Implementing Public Policy (IPP). My expectation at the beginning of the course was that I will learn a lot about public policy implementation. In the end, it surpass my expectations.

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The Pandemic Cannot Stop Us!

Guest blog by Jean-Francois Roussy

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.

Here we are at the end of our journey, 22 weeks later! 

When I applied to this program, the lock-down was starting, we were wondering what was going on in the world, how long it would last and learning to telework.  I am now graduating and, while we are still teleworking, we are finally seeing the light end at the end of the tunnel and the vaccines are at our doorsteps (instead of our Doordash order)!

After close to 20 years in the development and implementation of Canadian public policies, I felt that I needed a little extra at this point of my career: to formally learn theories associated to the implementation of public policies and especially learn them from a different perspective than the traditional Canadian ones.  And to learn from others successes, challenges and experiences around the world.

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Impact of COVID-19 on Benin Republic’s Economy

Guest blog by Aadam Soulebon

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 expectations:

When I was offered to sign up for the online version of this program, at first glance, I had concerns. This was my very first HKS course. Indeed, I was afraid that the resulting interaction would not add a substantial value to me besides the class materials. I was looking for something to solidify my competence in the field of public policies as a practitioner but also the HARVARD experience, the interaction with teachers but also the richness of exchanges with classmates.

Guess what: I’ve had a lot more than I can put into words …

Working as Special Assistant to the Senior Minister of Planning and Development of Benin Republic, the highest-ranking Minister, public policies are in our core business. We oversee the implementation of all public policies launched by the government. In most cases, we conceive, we mobilize resources and we monitor while the sectoral ministries are in charge of implementation. As we are reaching the end of this course, I am going back to my normal  life with technical tools, experience sharing,  and a network to rely on through the years. I am more confident in my job and am able to come up with options and solutions instead of questions while dealing with public policies.

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Tackling gun violence in Birmingham, Alabama

Guest blog by Crystal Smitherman

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.

Being a new and young politician, I knew I had a lot of learning to do in the political sector. I had a lot of energy and great initiatives, but I still need to learn how to revamp my message and craft good policy making habits. In the midst of a crime crisis, as our murder rates continued to rise significantly every week, I knew something had to change. I knew our policy approach towards dealing with crime needed to be reformed and improved. I came across the Implementing Public Policy course on the Harvard Kennedy School website. I knew my mindset Right then, would never be the same the moment I enrolled in the course.

I always knew I had the potential and capability to make a difference in my district and city by achieving attainable development goals and initiatives. Yet, I was still hitting a brick wall when it came to getting over the hump of pushing forward on certain initiatives. This is why I am forever grateful that I joined the 2020 IPP cohort.

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Formalizing Egypt’s Informal Sector

Guest blog by Perihan Tawfik

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.

Being an Egyptian Woman, a holder of a master degree of the Public Policy and Public Administration from the American University in Cairo (AUC, 2007), member of the AUC Public Policy Hub (2018) and working for the International Labor Organization (UN Specialized agency) encouraged me to think about enrolling in a public policy course at Harvard’s premises. 

Applying to “Implementing Public Policy”, blended course, at Harvard Kennedy School was a very interesting challenge from March to December 2020 until the moment the course turned to be an online course then the challenge started to grow bigger in me. I had an initial expectation to learn from the Harvard premises experience and from the interaction with professors and mates especially that I considered the online part as an introduction and conclusion while the body of the course is mainly the in presence-week.

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Dissecting challenges, mapping entry points & building teams: My IPP learnings

Guest blog by Laney Stone

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.

This has been an interesting year, to say the least, and when it became clear that I would need to stay at home for some time due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I considered how I might use my time in a constructive way. I was excited to see that the HKS 2020 course on Implementing Public Policy (IPP) had been moved online for accessibility during the pandemic. I quickly applied, hoping to gain insights into how best to design and implement public policies and what pitfalls should be avoided, but was not sure what exactly to expect from six months of Harvard via Zoom and Canvas. I was pleasantly surprised by how much we covered and worked through every week, and by the depth of interpersonal, leadership, and management strategies that we explored. Our Zoom sessions were not so different from in-person sessions, and six months of engagement let us put our learning into practice and exchange ideas on a consistent basis. 

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HIV: Patient Safety and Infection Prevention in India

Guest blog by Vijay Yeldandi 

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.

Why IPP? Honestly because I needed a navigator! After 25 years of doing public health work in India focusing on HIV Infection Prevention, I realized that not everything I did was a resounding success. While some projects were gratifying, in retrospect there were many hard lessons to learn and much heartburn to endure. Many of my friends and colleagues would remark “Oh there goes Vijay again….. where angels fear to tread…. Yes, it is true I have always been an unapologetically optimistic (hopelessly romantic) Gandhian revolutionary going about trying to make the whole world a better place. My anthem is John Lennon’s IMAGINE https://youtu.be/SfGuTigICo8

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Implementing online services in Manila, Philippines

Guest blog by Chris Tenorio

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.

A simple communication via email dated June 4, 2020 from Prof. Matt Andrews inviting me to be part of the Implementing Public Policy (IPP) Program made me think if whether or not this program would further improve my way of governance in public office and enhance my knowledge on managing public challenge even though I already had an overview about Problem Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA) as discussed by Prof. Matt in his book Building State Capability and in the previous program, Leading Economic Growth. Such email, which clearly explained the overview of the program and brief enumeration of tools that can be used in exploring several frameworks of implementation, convinced me to be part of the cohort for six (6) months.

As Prof. Matt introduced the program, he asked us to identify the public policy challenge in our own organization or office that we would want to devote our dedication and commitment during the duration of the program and utilizing PDIA principles and processes in addressing the identified challenge. I decided to work on the implementation of online services which can be implemented by our office—the Manila Civil Registry Office.

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Promoting agricultural sector products to diversify the economy in Mongolia

Guest blog by Batjargal Khandjav

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.

The Leading Economic Growth Program has been an absolutely inspiring intellectual journey for me during COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. It was a unique opportunity to reflect on key principles of economic growth while using toolset to better understand the unfolding of policy choices and drivers of economic growth for my own country. The breadth of the information and cases from around the world brought by the course and participants helped me to confront ideas and challenge existing ones. The weekly assignments that relied on information obtained during the weeks are very engaging and the comments provided by the grader helped me to stay focused and better adapt ideas and principles taught during the course, in a concrete circumstance of my country.

Each of the modules of the LEG Program offered ideas and learnings that gave new and interesting perspectives and helped me to assess the main problems and obstacles for the economic development of Mongolia, look for the roots of these problems, analyze possible solutions to these barriers.

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Troubled Waters Under the Bridge: Time for Inclusive Growth in Equatorial Guinea

Guest blog by Cesar Augusto Mba Abogo

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.

Equatorial Guinea (EG) is a little known country. In fact, Wikipedia in its entry on the country warns not to confuse it with Guinea Conakry and Guinea Bissau. In the period between the month of April 2019 and the month of October 2020, I had the honor of serving as Minister of Finance, Economy and Planning in probably the darkest economic downturn the country has known since the mid-nineties of the twentieth century when it became a producer and exporter of hydrocarbons. At the end of 2019, the country was beginning to emerge from the recession into which it had fallen in mid-2014, we had closed a comprehensive agreement with the IMF that included the traditional macrofiscal stabilization component but also a commitment to strengthen fiscal governance, fight corruption, allocate greater resources to social sectors, stabilize the banking sector and boost diversification of sources of economic growth… and then the health and financial pandemic of COVID19 crashed down on Equatorial Guinea.

But before I go into detail about the most relevant learnings, in my humble opinion, of HKS´s Leading Economic Growth course and how it has changed my understanding of the challenge of inclusive growth facing my country, let’s talk a little about this my unknown country.

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