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#7 – Harvard Kennedy School, Building State Capability Program

Posted on September 24, 2020


Building State capability

It’s #ELGLHaverford time! We’re pleased to recognize the top 25 local government companies as nominated by ELGL members. Learn more about the Haverford Award, and then check out our website every day this week to learn about five new companies added to the 2020 Haverford Award list.


Contact information:

Company information:

  • Industry sector(s): Combination: Education, Engagement, Policy, Consulting
  • Minority/Woman Owned Business: No
  • Shared content/expertise with ELGL: Yes
    • https://elgl.org/practice-of-pdia-podcsat-series-from-building-state-capacity/
  • Participated in ELGL events/activities: Yes
    • Swapcasts (forthcoming), ELGL20 (forthcoming)

Nomination information:

Describe your work and interactions with the nominee – how have you worked with them, on what projects, and in what capacity?

  • I’ve had the honor to learn from Salimah Samji, Matt Andrews, and the rest of the HKS BCS team through their Implementing Public Policy (IPP) Executive Education offering, but it didn’t stop there. From Community of Practice (CoP) work and problem-driven iterative adaptation (PDIA) to a library of podcasts and working papers, the HKS BCS team offers a wealth of information for tackling the most “wicked” problems in public service.

    Perhaps my favorite interaction with this group was learning from their graduate students as part of their “PDIA in Action” course. I was incredibly impressed by the students’ work, desire to learn and conquer the world. This class was not at all phased by complex challenges, but rather had a hunger to tackle them, leaving me with a strong sense of hope not only for the world today, but for the world of the future.

What was the product/outcome of your relationship with the company?

  • An expanded toolkit, which also came with the wonderful byproduct of a new outlook on public service and frankly, on life. I jump at every chance to be involved with this group (and you should, too).

What are three words you’d use to describe the company?

  • kind, engaging, solver-of-all-big-things!

Describe the on-boarding process for your work with the company – either when you personally started working with them, or when your organization did. What could someone else in local government know about starting work with this company? 

  • When I first started learning from HKS BSC, I was way out of my league and experiencing some serious Imposter Syndrome. “Am I supposed to be here?” But soon enough, those fears began to wash away as I fell into a groove with this group. Salimah and Matt know how to create a safe space to learn, grow, and try new things.

    It’s time we bring the value of education and training back to our local governments. For someone considering working with this group know this: HKS BSC will open your eyes to a new perspective, a new toolkit, that you can use to conquer complex challenges such as COVID19, affordable housing, homicide rates, transportation, and whatever else comes your way. All you have to do is be open to it, because there is no going back.

What’s the most interesting or fun aspect of your work with the company?

  • If you want to learn something new, tackle tough challenges, engage your stakeholders, build resilient teams, and perhaps even find yourself – this is absolutely the group for you. You and your team will grow in ways you may not have thought possible, and the public you serve will greatly benefit.

What is the company’s pricing structure? Please be as descriptive as possible.

  • Mix of custom and standardized pricing 

How has your relationship with the company evolved or changed over time? How has the company reacted to or addressed any changes that your organization has requested in the scope/focus of your work together?

  • HKS BSC adapts incredibly well in the ever-changing world of public service. They are amazingly flexible in a sector that is notoriously not. I have never heard Matt or Salimah say something isn’t possible; there’s always another way or something else to try. Perhaps this is one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned from them, which applies not only to local government, but also to life itself. Negotiation is not a zero sum game, and neither is life in public service. 

Anything else to add about the company that we haven’t already asked you?

  • Salimah and Matt are not only changing the way we think about public service for the better; they are giving those of us in the public sector exactly what we need: hope. 
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