Examining public administration and budget in Peru

Guest blog by Nohelia Navarrete Flores

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.

There is a phrase that reads “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link”. After 10 years of managing Public Health projects, I had realized that it was more than just a phrase; it was a fact, and I started reflecting on how to make that weak link stronger.
I first thought of joining the Implementing Public Policy course to complement what I had learnt in Leading Economic Growth. I was looking forward to experiencing a longer and adaptive process to help me developing the policy challenge I had identified in the previous course.

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Developing the national business climate policy for Morocco

Guest blog by Abderrazak Mourchid

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 applied for the Harvard Kennedy School IPP training in May 2020, I was looking to build up my capacity in public policy implementation, especially since I was mandated by the Head of Government of Morocco to develop the national business climate policy for Morocco for the next five years. It was the first time I had been invited to carry out such a strategic exercise for my country. The complexity of the exercise lies in the fact that it involves a variety of stakeholders and that it was necessary to determine the priorities for Morocco in the medium term in order to develop the private sector and improve the attractiveness of investment. This exercise was supported by a steering committee that I established and that includes the General Confederation of Moroccan Enterprises, the Ministry of Economy and Finance, the Ministry of Industry, the Ministry of Justice, and the Ministry of Internal affairs. 

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Can the private sector help to pave the way to tackle complex challenges in the Northern Triangle of Central America?

written by José Eguigure and Daniel Barjum 

A few weeks ago, Vice President Kamala Harris, and other top officials, including Samantha Power, Administrator of the United States Agency of International Development, and former professor at Harvard University, attended the inauguration of Xiomara Castro as the first female President of Honduras in its 200 years of independence. According to several sources, including the New York Times, this is a clear statement of the U.S. foreign policy on strengthening its ties within the Northern Triangle of Central America, and represents a good opportunity to pave the way in tackling complex challenges in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. Can the private sector help to deliver on this cause? How?

Vice President Harris launched “a Call to Action to the Private Sector” last year to join government efforts to increase economic opportunities within the region and “address the root causes of migration” to the United States. Twelve companies and organizations such as Bancolombia, Microsoft, Mastercard, the Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health, among others joined this effort back in May 2021. Recently, seven new partners have joined including Grupo Mariposa, Cargill, PepsiCo, and CARE International, and all together “have invested more than 1.2 billion dollars.” Although this is a promising initiative supported by the nonprofit Partners for Central America, the major challenge now is how to deliver on this promise, allow for stakeholder engagement, and give agency to local communities. Finding the right approach or blending of approaches will be crucial for the implementation of this strategy. 

The first question we need to ask ourselves is how much do we know about the problem and how different do stakeholders frame it? Then, how do we get high levels of legitimacy among local communities and sustain it across time? How can we overcome countries’ binding constraints, in Honduras for example, its low ease of doing business? Since there are a lot of unknowns and ambiguities, a good way to start these conversations is by engaging and building trust with key stakeholders in each country. Problem Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA) can be a useful methodology to complement current efforts. PDIA is a “learning by doing” approach that empowers stakeholders to breakdown problems, identify potential solutions, iterate, and build capabilities while learning throughout the process. PDIA poses a unique and effective approach to development, borrowing ideas from both private and public sector initiatives and experiences around the world.   

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PDIA Application in the UK Private Sector

Guest blog written by Mitchell Rusu

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.

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What an incredible journey this has been!

Coming into this course, I really didn’t know what to expect.  I was excited about attending classes at Harvard Kennedy School, but did not realise the tremendous learning opportunity that was awaiting me.

I’ve been working in the private sector my entire career (over twenty years) across many different industries, different countries, and multiple continents, and always for the best companies within their respective industries.  Along the way, I have encountered various methods of problem-solving, challenge-resolution, and workflow-mapping.  You could say that I thought I’d seen every leadership and management approach there was.

Yet, I have been pleasantly surprised to discover how useful this course would be to my development as a leader. While conceding that some aspects of the course were not entirely unfamiliar, the way they were brought together and packaged in such a powerful problem-solving approach that could be applied to any type of complex situation came as a great surprise and as a learning opportunity – a fresh way of looking at the tools in my cupboard.

Although the initial aim of this course was to teach us how to raise awareness of social problems and implement public policies that would ensure a sustainable long-term response, in my opinion, this course has taught us much more practical, hands-on skills.  In this course we have learned a problem-solving methodology that can be applied in various fields, industries, or even our personal lives, whenever and wherever we face complex situations.

I have learned how powerful and engaging we can become by knowing how to appropriately construct a problem and present it in a way that engages multiple stakeholders, how to create powerful teams without formal authority over the members of the team, how to acquire authority from authorisers, how to progress in solving a complex problem in a non-linear way, and how to overcome roadblocks such as bureaucratic organisational structures that can affect your efficiency and ability to engage stakeholders.

Case Study: How I applied My HKS skills to a Banking Industry problem:

At the beginning of the course we were asked to think about a challenge or a project that we could work on over the following months by approaching it in a different way; the “Problem Driven Iterative Adaptation” (PDIA) way. Continue reading PDIA Application in the UK Private Sector