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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Improving Food Safety Standards in Ukraine

Guest blog by Kateryna Onul

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 COVID-19 crisis has coincided with reform within my organization and an urgent need to find new approaches to working with the public sector in different parts of the world. I was looking for tools that could help me continue working on improving policy and regulatory frameworks in the food safety sector despite the turbulence of the environment in all dimensions. 

Even before the COVID-19 crisis, it became clear that as economic ties changed and new political forces and scientific paradigms emerged, the need for new approaches to the development and implementation of public policies became acute. The COVID-19 crisis has become a catalyst that clearly shows areas where traditional approaches to implementing public policies are no longer efficient. I have read many times in various sources about the PDIA approach, which made it possible to find solutions to problems in the political dimension when there are many unknowns and uncertainties. I understood that completing the IPP Course would give me the opportunity to study PDIA both in theory and practice. Unfortunately, due to the intensive work schedule, I did not have the opportunity to leave for six months and immerse myself in student life. I took the opportunity to take the IPP Harvard Program Online as great luck that I did not miss.

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Slowing the rate of sprawl development in the U.S. using PDIA

Guest blog by Ryan Yetzer

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 really didn’t know what to expect. One minute I was offered this amazing opportunity by our Mayor, and the next minute I’m receiving e-mails and course materials from the Harvard Kennedy School. I was excited for the experience, but certainly nervous as well. Once the course started, I quickly realized how much I would learn over the next few months and was thrilled to be awarded this opportunity by our Mayor.  

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Decentralization in Lebanon

Guest blog written by Pascale Dahrouj

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.

When I first registered in this program, I never thought I could get that much insights on how to work out a complex problem by identifying entry points, root causes, possible solutions, authorizers and teams. I just thought it will be a learning journey filled with readings and videos that might help me with some ideas…But no…It was much more. 

The first part of the program was indeed an introduction of the entire concept of public policy and its implementation. But the most important part of the journey was the week course at Harvard where we spent intensive hours in learning about PDIA and doing our fishbone. A fishbone? I laughed at the idea first but when I ended up doing mine, I never felt more concerned and understanding of my problem. I am working on a public policy that will change the entire system of the Lebanese Republic. Decentralization… Moving from a central strong government control power to a decentralized functioning of the state. And guess what? My policy has not yet been ratified by the parliament. My work has a double shredded effort: getting the policy ratified and then implementing it. 

PDIA is a new concept for me as I had never heard of it before that week in June. Now, it has become part of my daily thinking. It is a guiding dynamic tool: it gives you all the necessary to help you think outside the box and do things yourself. You are the center of this entire approach. You have to know well the problem, deconstruct it and then construct the points, identify the authorizers and whom to approach, and mostly build your team so that your policy can get to a realistic end result. 

During this course, I enjoyed so much learning from other students and getting to know their problems and how they envision to solve it. The group sessions that we did also made me realize how vague my problems were …. I kept on narrowing them down… I kept on redoing and changing my fishbone based on feedback from my group… That learning process was the best part of it. You think that you grasp the context, but you come and hear the comments from your group or class, and then you have to do it all over again. Oh and not to mention the professors and directors of the program; They all added to me in different ways. The Pascale that went in June to Harvard is not longer the same Pascale… It is a different version equipped with hopes, prospects and determination. 

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Embracing flexibility to untangle longstanding policy issues in Nigeria

Guest blog by Tabia Princewill

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.

As a Special Assistant to the Speaker of the House of Representatives in Nigeria, I have experience working in a large, complex bureaucracy and I decided to take this course to learn how to deliver results within a space where state capability has been weakened over the years and where competing political interests often negatively impact the organization’s capacity to produce positive outcomes. I came into the course with a number of assumptions about who holds authority within a structure and I was happy to learn how to challenge traditional notions about the usefulness of top down approaches as well as plan and control methods. My expectations were thus met and mostly surpassed: our supportive team of instructors made learning thought-provoking and fun drawing from global examples of building state capability.

This IPP journey was the unexpected deus ex machina which enabled me to remain productive and hopeful during the COVID 19 pandemic. Despite these unprecedented and incredible circumstances, I gained a real boost by absorbing new tools and perspectives. Some key learnings for me were the “4Ps” (perception, projection, people and process) because this helped me deeply connect with the core of what I needed to do: disappoint political elites at a rate they can absorb and enable a more inquisitive mindset in my work environment so that new stories, new viewpoints and narratives can be heard, instead of the usual practice of allowing ourselves to be locked into one fixed way of thinking.

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Reforming Kenya’s IP regime

Guest blog by Rachel Osendo

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?

Covid-19 pandemic had just hit. Everyone had gone into a panic. We were scared. We were afraid of the unknown. The Government was also confused. The different Cabinet Secretaries, Attorney General and Parliamentarians moved with speed to develop legislation to manage the crisis we were in.

My CEO appointed me to head the team to undertake pre-publication scrutiny on the proposed legislation that had been developed by the Cabinet Secretaries, Attorney General and Parliament. I developed imposter syndrome. I didn’t know what to look out for. I didn’t know what standards I needed to look out for. My stomach was knotting.

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Falling in love with the problem, not the solution

Guest blog by Kyle Novak

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.

“Fall in love with the problem, not your solution.”  It’s a maxim that I first heard spoken a few years ago by USAID’s former Chief Innovation Officer Ann Mei Chang. I’ve found myself frequently reflecting on those words as I’ve been thinking about the challenges of implementing public policy. I spent the past year on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. working as a legislative fellow, funded through a grant to bring scientists to improve evidence-based policymaking within the federal government. I spent much of the year trying to better understand how legislation and oversight work together in context of policy and politics. To learn what makes good public policy, I wanted to understand how to better implement it. Needless to say, I took a course in Problem Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA), a framework to manage risk in complex policy challenges by embracing experimentation and “learning through doing.”

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The Lack of Decentralization of Power: Delivery of Public Service in Liberia

Guest blog by W. Lawrence Yealue, II

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.

Firstly, my expectation was to learn strategies and approaches to Implementing Public Policies. My expectation was exceeded by this program. The manner in which the program was conducted, the peer learning approach and Problem Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA). The logical pathways and the appreciation for contextualization the learning acquired strategically within this course is amazing.

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Keys to Unlocking Policy Locks: Legal Education in Ukraine

Guest blog by Artem Shaipov

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.

Having earned in 2018 a certificate for successful completion of the online series “The Practice of PDIA: Building capability by delivering results” offered by Building State Capability at the Harvard Center for International Development, I learned about the Implementing Public Policy Program (IPP) from the PDIA Community’s first newsletter. I jumped on this opportunity to learn and grow professionally as I knew from my previous experience with the Harvard Center for International Development that my new learning journey would be full of new ideas, discoveries, insights, lessons learned, and takeaways.

As I was already well-versed in the PDIA methodology before signing up for the IPP, I expected to learn more about leadership in public policy implementation, mobilizing teams for common policy purpose, and delegation for better policy results. I was also looking into opportunities for expanding my professional policy network by joining the IPP’s global community of practice.

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The case for a New Development Strategic plan in Cameroon

Guest blog by Boris Owona, Senior Civil Administrator at the Cameroon Prime Minister’s Office

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 started this IPP program after completing the Emerging Leaders and Public Financial Management programs with a solid foundation of what public policies can look like in a bureaucratic setting. In fact, coming into the course, I felt quite satisfied with my own policy-making abilities, but I was still looking for a more practical insight that can be helpful to explain the causal strains that explain why Government fails or succeeds in each context and what could be the solutions on the way forward.

Now, I have come to realize, pursuing these ideas of legitimacy and functionality that we need first to frame the problem, and then to find the tools useful to solve it, according to the actual level of complexity that we are facing. My assumption about the course was that it would be a tremendous professional development experience applied to a policy intervention for which I care the most, the National Development Strategy (NDS) of my country. Learning from the failure of the past, it was mandatory to establish NDS, that will pave the way for Cameroon, standing as an emergent country by 2035.

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