Guest blog written by Yasmine Robinson
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.
At first I was not sure how PDIA would be applicable to what I do as an urban planner, but as I listened to Matt’s first lecture about why policies fail, lightning struck. Over the years I had witnessed the adoption of many policies that were not successful for a variety of reasons, and often as one of the people responsible for implementing those policies, I felt that I was set up to fail. I knew that a flawed policy could not be implemented to achieve its original function but I didn’t have the tools or vocabulary to communicate this to those who mattered.
The key takeaways from the course felt so obvious after the fact – why wasn’t everyone already doing this?
- Define what success looks like
- The problem might not really be the problem
- Consider the user
- Engage your authorizers
Through this course I was able to understand a few important things about my challenge of plan implementation:
- My problem wasn’t really the problem – deconstructing and reconstructing showed me that there were several problem areas that needed to be addressed. Simply organizing myself in this way set a clear path forward which felt empowering and alleviated a lot of the frustration I had been dealing with.
- Change needed to happen at every step of the planning process – especially public outreach.
- Bringing authorizers together helped to break down the various silos of government so that decisions could be reached as a group and nobody was “out of the loop”.
- I can’t do it all alone – creating a team that allowed others to grow and learn moved the process along faster and kept up momentum even during slower times.