PDIA in Action: Development Through Facilitated Emergence

BSC Faculty Director, Matt Andrews, and Program Director, Salimah Samji, have been co-teaching PDIA in Action: Development through Facilitated Emergence at the Harvard Kennedy School since 2018. This is a field-lab class where students learn a research-oriented version of PDIA by working on public problems – they learn by doing. In Spring 2021, HKS Implementing Public Policy (IPP) alumni were selected as authorizers to nominate real-world problems for eight student teams. Over the course of seven weeks, students worked alongside their authorizer/client, adopting a problem driven approach and developing an action strategy using the PDIA framework. Teams presented their key takeaways and policy recommendations to authorizers on the last day of class.

The student team presentations, their learning journey blogs, and videos of their presentations during the PDIA in Action event series are highlighted below. The collection of student projects are also showcased in the PDIA in Action book designed by Harvard GSD student, Gauri Nagpal.

Teaching PDIA Online 

This blog summarizes the experience pivoting course content and sessions to a virtual format in the post-pandemic world. Students were given hands-on exposure to the PDIA process, learning how to collaborate as a team, work with authorizers/clients, construct and deconstruct complex problems, develop fishbone diagrams, conduct triple-A change space analysis, identify entry points for action, communicate effectively with stakeholders, and iterate and adapt in the process. The blog also discusses key lessons learned by the students.

Blog

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Countering Radicalization in France

There is growing perception that radicalization is expanding in France, but no consensus on how best to approach it. Students worked with Raphael Kenigsberg, Cyber Security Expert at BNP Paribas, to explore the increase in radicalization and identify entry points for action. Through the PDIA process, the team learned to maintain open channels of communication with teammates and stakeholders, expand engagement as much as possible, and to regularly revisit and reevaluate the problem.

Video | Slides | Blog

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Asheville

Implementing Reparations in Asheville, NC

Asheville passed its historic reparation resolution in July 2020, but there has been a lack of progress and consensus in designing and implementing the reparation initiatives. Students worked with former Asheville City Councilor, William Keith Young, to assess this problem and identify entry points for action. Utilizing the PDIA methodology, students learned the importance of building capacity before scaling, the power of iteration in tackling complex problems, and the value of taking small, incremental steps forward.

Video | Slides | Blog

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Police-Community Relations in Lancaster

There have been deepening tensions in Lancaster, PA between the police department and the community, heightened by a 2020 police shooting and nation-wide protests against police brutality. Students worked with Milzy Carrasco, Director of Neighborhood Engagement for the City of Lancaster and Chief Bey, Chief of Police, to better understand this problem and identify entry points. Students learned to embrace multiple perspectives, resist confirmation bias, work effectively as a team, and examine unknowns.

Video | Slides | Blog

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Burien

Access to Childcare in Burien, WA

Current childcare benefits in Burien, WA are limited and restrictive, leading to broader social and economic impacts on the community. Students worked with Kevin Schilling, Burien City Councilmember to better understand the issue and detect entry points using the PDIA approach. Together they discovered the importance of teamwork, frequent communication, building strong relationships and networks, and maintaining a dynamic mindset which acknowledges the problem as continuously evolving.

Video | Slides | Blog

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Abandoned Infra Projects in Nigeria

Nigeria has been struggling with several key public infrastructure projects being abandoned before completion. Students worked with David Wuyep, Chief Technical Advisor in the office of the Governor of Plateau State, to better identify and understand the problem and determine viable entry points for action. Together they learned the importance of teamwork, staying humble, taking incremental steps forward, and the power of dissecting problems into underlying causes while questioning assumptions.

Video | Slides | Blog

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Tackling Blood Safety in Nigeria

Local health facilities and organizations do not have the capacity to attain or maintain safe blood supplies in Nigeria. Students worked with Dr. Adaeze Oreh, Country Head of Planning National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) to assess this problem and identify entry points for action using the PDIA approach. Students learned the importance of teamwork, staying focused on the common cause, and leveraging the diversity and expertise within your team to enrich your knowledge and inform your process.

Video | Slides | Blog

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Exploring Trade between Kenya and Canada

While the absence of bilateral trade agreements between Kenya and Canada hinders trade between the two countries, there are several other barriers contributing to the problem. Students worked with Dr. Imbenzi George, Honorary Consul General of Kenya to Canada to investigate this issue and help identify entry points for action. Together they learned to think outside the box, harness their creativity and flexibility, crawl the design space, and focus efforts on manageable steps to make forward progress. 

Video | Slides | Blog

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Legal Education Reform in Ukraine

Poor quality legal education in Ukraine is perpetuating corruption within the country. Students worked with Artem Shaipov, Legal specialist with USAID New Justice Program to assess this issue and identify entry points using the PDIA framework. Through the process, the team learned the power of networking in opening new doors and potential entry points, the value of teamwork and optimizing each other’s strengths while being cognizant of weaknesses, and to continually question “why” and deconstruct the problem to its root causes.

Video | Slides | Blog

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