Examining Rising Teacher Shortages in the United States

Guest blog by Razan Alayed, Aleena Ali, Ryan S. Herman, Cecilia Liang, Krizia Lopez

There were many lessons to be extracted from this course and through applying the Problem-Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA) approach to our concurrently ordinary and extraordinary problem. The issue of teacher shortage has existed for many years and is persisting in the United States, with the pandemic exacerbating and laying bare the public education system. Through iterative thinking and discussions, we as a team were able to narrow and focus our problem to what was relevant to our authorizer and her context, as well as surface the causes that continue to influence the issue at hand. Specifically, the PDIA process has taught us to dig deeper into root causes and distill them into comprehensive understandings; in fact, we discovered along the way that some sub-causes are shared among larger entry points, which was pivotal to defining our ideas and action steps. This process taught us that starting with small ideas and growing them is key to the iterative approach, since we were able to take frequent pauses, reflect, modify and then go back into the solution space. This also allowed us to experiment with our ideas and to obtain timely feedback through stakeholder interviews prior to investing time and resources on ideas that may not work in our context. Suffice to say that this experience has been fruitful for our professional journeys, and we will be taking these learnings as we move forward in our careers.

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Leading Economic Growth: Adapting the Wyoming Energy Industry

Guest blog by Kaeci Daniels

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.

What are some key ideas/learnings that you will take away from this course?

  • 1804 as a communication tool – The 1804 example was a good analogy to get people to understand that the problem is hard to understand. Using this example as a communication tool may be a great way to get buy-in and resources for the growth strategy team.
  • Fishbone Diagram – The fishbone diagram to is a great tool to find entry points on complex problems. Crafting the right team to develop the fishbone diagram is essential for fully grasping the growth problem and its sub-problems.
  • PDIA and SLDC – PDIA is nimble for finding and testing solutions when the problem is not well understood. SLDC can be beneficial when a problem is well defined, as shown in the Singapore example.
  • Inclusion over redistribution – This was significant. Redistribution of resources does not necessarily enable growth and it may even create disincentives for production. If government is to use public funds to promote growth, it should be done in a way that captures people outside of accessible markets and creates opportunity for new markets to emerge or be engaged. A focus on inclusion can mean the difference in a long-term widespread growth policy versus short-term accommodations.
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Addressing a remittance backlog in the U.S.

Guest blog by Loretta Minott

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.

It has been almost twenty years since I graduated from college. At least fifteen years since I have been involved in an instructor-led collegiate level course. As a mother to a toddler, going “back to school” was not in my plan. But I had a superior who believed in my ability and thought this program would be a great opportunity for me to strengthen my resume and add upon my qualifications. Applying to the program was a breeze. I then anxiously waited to find out if I had been accepted. I was overjoyed when I was accepted. I mean, this is Harvard! That joy quickly turned to fear. As I read the professional profiles of those in my cohort, I remember saying out loud “What did I get myself in to?” I mean, who was I? I had a bachelor’s degree from Temple University, an unfinished graduate degree, and I was now in a course with folks who hold PhD’s from some of the most prestigious universities. How would I align with these people? I would shortly find out that everything was going to be just fine. I ended up in a breakout group with some of the most supportive and kind colleagues. We became fast friends and we pushed each other to complete the course in its entirety.

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Building resilience into U.S. government functions

Guest blog by Adam Harrison

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.

IPP Learning Journey: Learning in the Age of Pandemic

In early 2020, I was lucky enough to be selected into the Harvard Kennedy School’s executive education class, “Implementing Public Policy (IPP).” I was thrilled that my supervisors at work had shown the confidence in me and interest in my development to make this opportunity available. Even more, I was excited to spend a week in Cambridge with a diverse group of professionals from across the country and the world. The experience would be enriching . . . and a few good meals in Boston’s North End would be pretty nice, too. 

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Examining options for food and drug supply safety in the U.S. in response to pandemic restrictions

Guest blog by Laura Draski

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 first applied to be part of the Implementing Public Policy cohort, I expected to learn much about various techniques, tools and theories used in implementing policy. About the nuts and bolts of how to design and create policy that can be implemented. About how to manage a process of complex and intersecting implementation. I would graduate with a toolkit to pull out of my belt and a formula complete with a calculator to plug in my variables and expected outcomes of measured success. Indeed, the Harvard Kennedy School Playbook for Implementing Policy.

And I did learn tangible tools and some phenomenal ideologies and guiding principles. Problem Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA) is now part of how I see and respond to the world. I talk about teaming, snowflake models and trust triangles as if they’re a normal part of dinner conversation. I pride myself in being able to construct a mean and comprehensive Fishbone Diagram. And, truly, these are all helpful skills and knowledge to draw upon when considering complex policy problems.

But what I didn’t expect to learn in this course was about leadership and how much your own leadership skills can influence not only a successful policy outcome, but the leadership ability and success of others. About the importance of building relationships (and it’s all about the relationships), and about learning from and influencing others. I was struck by the model of multi-agent leadership where risk is shared and where true leaders acknowledge that complex problems can only be solved when you mobilize and provide opportunity for others to exert their leadership.

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Building a coordinated service delivery model in the U.S. 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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Resiliency and sustainability: Key Takeaways from LEG2020

Guest blog by Mathias McCauley

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.

What are some key ideas/learnings that you will take away from this course?

The initial lectures on the “product space” and “PDIA” were fascinating and valuable to me.  Additionally, because of the nature of my organization and the state the region is located in (Michigan), I now believe that the most likely entry point for positive change is located within “acceptance” and “ability,” not “authority.” Beginning with acceptance, my organization and I must (and will) continue framing the issue as critical to the long-term prosperity and health of the region.

Data shows that rural regions like mine are susceptible to the continued decline of wealth without greater integration of a knowledge-based economy, industry diversification, younger workforce, and higher educational attainment. Policymaker and private industry leadership “acceptance” of this will be dependent on the sharing and belief of such information. Then, “ability” can be achieved by creating “acceptance coalitions” of public and private sector institutions that can affect positive change through organizational strategy and policy.

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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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Panama Embassy official writes about promoting US-Panama trade ties

Guest blog by Franklin Morales, Head of Commercial and Economic Affairs at the Embassy of Panama in the United States.

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.

A few years ago, I became a diplomat of my country in the United States.  Over time, I gained more responsibility until I became the Head of the Commercial and Economic Section. I am responsible for investment promotion and building partnerships with the American private sector. Although I had previous experience in partnership building, I realized I needed additional tools to tackle some of the policy challenges I was facing.  I wanted to affect change and create public value, but I was uncertain about how to proceed.

Over the last 20 years, Panama has been a success story in terms of economic growth. The country attracted over 150 multinational headquarters, and its income per capita almost tripled in the same period. Although Panama made significant progress in reducing inequality while growing, distribution of income and opportunities remains a challenge in the eyes of most of its citizens and leaders.  Furthermore, growth in the last few years has stagnated, bringing a heightened risk of social dissatisfaction. The same risk that has affected other countries in the region. That is why Panama’s leaders want to promote growth through different avenues.  Two of those strategies include the Digital Hub Strategy and the Advanced Manufacturing Strategy. Both seek to diversify Panama’s exports to advanced sectors. Although these are not the only efforts in place, they are the ones that relate most to my job.  

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