Toronto PPG1007 Putting Policy into Action – Strategic Implementation of Public Objectives (2017)

… one of the Specimen Courses in Implementation and Delivery

Click for syllabus

Course description

Addressing complex public policy challenges requires good ideas, arrived at through rigorous analysis and open debate, and strong implementation. Policy failure can be caused by many factors, ranging from poor problem definition, inadequate framing and analysis of policy options and inappropriate choice or mix of implementing instruments, to inadequate understanding of the delivery chain, weak risk assessment and lack of clarity around assigned accountabilities. Executing policy successfully requires an integrated consideration of these types of factors. This constitutes implementation capacity.

This is a foundational course in policy practice. It is interdisciplinary, drawing on key concepts from science, social science, business and public administration as well as the world of the policy practitioner. It introduces you to thinking in a critical, integrated way about how to deliver on public policy objectives in the context of a dynamic political and stakeholder environment. Specifically, it examines key considerations in developing an implementation strategy for a policy initiative. Your instructors, Pamela Bryant, Janet Mason and Barry Goodwin have built this course drawing on their significant experience as senior leaders in both policy and delivery in the Ontario Public Service and elsewhere.


Pamela Bryant; Janet Mason; Barry Goodwin


By permission of the instructors.

Syllabus link on Atlas

Alignment between class topics and Atlas core normed topics
PPG1007 Class Topic
Closest Normed Topic
1 What is Implementation? The Study of Implementation and Delivery
2 The Demand for Effective Implementation
3 Real Cases of Policy Challenges and Responses
4 The Political and Fiscal Context Securing Legal Authority and Budgetary Resources
5 The Stakeholder Context Managing Risk
6 Designing the Delivery Network Designing the Delivery Model

Implementing through Partners and Networks

7 Outcomes, Governance, Accountability: Understanding Implementation Challenges and Achieving Performance Organizing and Measuring for Performance
8 Constructing a Communicating Strategy – the Importance of Options in Narrative Consulting and Communicating on Policy
9 ‘Frank and Fearless’ Advice
10 Minister’s Briefing – Implementation Strategy
11 Minister’s Briefing – Implementation Strategy
12 Review, Discussion, Wrap Up

The PPG1007 syllabus addresses in whole or in part seven of the topics in Implementation and Delivery. The five topics not addressed are:

Additional description from the Syllabus

This course has two main objectives:

  1. To provide you with an overview and basic understanding of implementation strategy and of certain critical success factors in developing and executing one.
  2. To help you hone your analytical, problem-solving and communications skills in arriving at a recommended course of action (your advice to a decision maker), applying these critical success factors.
What students can be expected to learn

The course is organized throughout the twelve-week term along four thematic lines:

  1. What is implementation and how is the public good enhanced in real world policy implementation? Achieving public policy outcomes in the public interest is frequently hard, requiring rigour in analysis and design of strategies that clearly link to outcomes. We will examine the policy/delivery continuum and where implementation fits in the policy cycle. We will look at how problem definition influences the choice of policy tool or mix of tools (legislation, regulation, tax incentives, direct spending, etc.) and shapes implementation options. We will build an understanding of what constitutes an implementation strategy. A senior guest practitioner will walk us through some live case examples of policy implementation challenges. Seminars 1, 2 and 3.
  2. How does context affect implementation? Policy implementation occurs in a political environment. The fiscal and political context of any government are major factors that determine the design of implementation strategy. Stakeholders and the media (conventional, social) play significant roles in influencing ideas and public opinion on how well policy is being delivered. We will come to understand the complexity of the implementation landscape, how it influences implementation strategy and outcomes. Seminars 4 and 5.
  3. What are some of enabling conditions that contribute to implementation success? Building an implementation strategy requires an understanding of not only context but also of key resource and capacity conditions that will contribute to implementation success. In this section of the course, we will delve into the creation of a delivery network and how to ensure that the appropriate governance and accountability mechanisms are in place to drive performance and help achieve the desired outcomes. We will also start to examine how to construct and communicate your strategy by reviewing the risks major categories of risk, comparing different implementation strategies (options) in terms of their ability to mitigate such risks. Seminars 6, 7, 8.
  4. How to communicate implementation advice? As policy professionals, whether working inside or outside government, you will be called upon to clearly and concisely present sound advice on alternative courses of action to decision makers, based on rigorous, evidence-based research and analysis and the application of good judgment around risk and feasibility. Communications and framing are mission- critical skills for policy professionals. A senior guest practitioner will discuss with you what communicating advice looks like with reference to current examples (Seminar 9). The Minister’s Briefing simulation (Seminars 10,11) will offer you hands on experience in presenting policy implementation advice to an external guest.

The common thread running through the seminars week to week is that effective implementation is typically hard. It requires rigorous analysis, collaborative problem solving and course alteration at every step of the process. It frequently requires the rethinking of assumptions and approaches and the synthesis of these into something new. During the semester, we use practical examples to help you understand how decision makers think about implementation and what they do. In two plenary seminars, invited guest speakers bring their professional experience and insights into the class, providing ‘live’ case material for you to consider.

Through readings, class discussion and both group and individual assignments, you should seek to become comfortable engaging in debates around implementation choices and challenges, be able to offer alternative strategies or choices based on your assessment of critical success factors and to discuss how these might lead to the same or different outcomes.


Class Participation (15%)

We expect each student to arrive at every class having completed the Required Readings and ready to contribute to lively discussion of the day’s topic with classmates, your Instructors and guest speakers. Your grade will be based on your consistent, constructive and high quality contributions to seminar discussions and your demonstrated teamwork. This includes participating fully in the Briefing Note and Minister’s Briefing workshops that will be organized and led by the TAs for the course. The workshops are designed to provide hands-on, small group practice in developing critical features of your analysis, such as framing the issue statement and identifying and evaluating strategic implementation options. You will also gain further insights into how to organize and communicate analysis to support decision making, and (for the Minister’s Briefing) in how to field questions. Your physical presence in class is a basic prerequisite for engaging in discussion. Attendance will be taken each week; it is the student’s responsibility to account for any absences. 11

Briefing Notes (45%)

This is a two-part, sequential assignment, worth 15 and 30% of your final mark. The first will require you to develop a background assessment of an assigned implementation challenge. In the second, you will take this further by developing strategic options and a recommended course of action for a decision maker. Each Note will be a maximum of two pages in length (single spaced, 11 point font, standard margins) and be written in a concise, professional style. Notes are due electronically January 31 and February 28, 5 p.m. Each Note will be assessed on the quality of your research, your analytical and problem-solving skills, your ability to appropriately apply concepts covered in class to date, your creativity and the clarity and focus of your writing.

Implementation Plan – Minister’s Briefing (40%)

This assignment challenges you to integrate what you have learned in the course and provides you with experience in formulating and communicating to a decision maker rigorous implementation advice on a current policy problem. Your individual mark is the group mark. Early in the term you will select a topic from a list prepared by your instructor. Then, working in a three or four-person team, you are expected to research the contextual challenges, identify the main implementation issue, develop and assess strategic options for addressing it and prepare a concise presentation (10-12 power point slides) containing your recommended course of action. For the simulated Briefings in March, the respective teams will give a 12 to 15- minute presentation of their analysis and recommendations to an invited guest ‘Minister’, responding to the Minister’s questions at any time. Class members are expected to enrich the discussion through role playing as members of Cabinet. Each team will submit a maximum two page Outline and their research bibliography in advance of a team meeting that you will set up with your Instructor by the end of February. This is an informal meeting to receive feedback on your work to date. In addition this month, the TAs will run a Minister’s Briefing workshop on the technical aspects of developing and presenting a briefing. Your Instructor may also create space in some of the seminars for teams to get hands on practice in applying concepts and principles from the course to their Briefing topic. The written products to be submitted for marking by April 3 are the presentation deck and speaking notes, which each team will finalise after the simulated briefing. These products will be assessed on the quality and originality of your research, the rigour of your options and analysis and the clarity, focus and economy of your writing.

Course outline and reading list

The required readings for each seminar provide important background to the work you will do in class, in work teams and on your own. To the extent possible, all readings are posted on Blackboard. Some modifications to the required readings may be made during the semester in response to new developments or reports or where a specific case example is to be discussed in the next class. If so, your Instructor will advise you and update Blackboard. Please check the Course Documents for your section each week to ensure you have the right readings for the next class.

Week-by-week list of topics and assigned readings

Week 1: What is Implementation?

This seminar provides an introduction to the concept of policy implementation and provides an overview of the key concepts and themes to be covered in the course, including what comprises an implementation strategy and why implementation is difficult. We will review the overall learning objectives, course design and mandatory requirements, and discuss the graded assignments.

Required Reading

Bardach, Eugene. A Practical Guide for Policy Analysis. (Washington: CQ Press, 2009). Part 1. ‘The Eightfold Path, Step One: Define the Problem’, 1-10 and Appendix B, ‘Things Governments Do’, 141-149. PDF on Blackboard.

Bourgon, Jocelyne. ‘New Directions in Public Administration: Serving Beyond the Predictable’. Keynote address, Public Administration Committee Annual Conference, York, UK, September 2008. 13 pages. PDF on Blackboard


Graham, Andrew, “Pressman/Wildavsky and Bardach: Implementation in the public sector, past, present and future”, Canadian Public Administration, Vol. 48, No. 2, 2005. pp. 268-273. Book Review.

Week 2: The Demand for Effective Implementation

This week focuses on how we frame the issue and how we choose the appropriate public policy tool or instrument. We will discuss the constant interplay between evidence and analysis, problem definition, and the tools of public policy. We examine why implementation matters.

Required Reading

Pal, Leslie, ‘Policy Instruments and Design’, in Beyond Policy Analysis (Toronto: Nelson Education, 2014), Chap. 4, 131-164. Comparative analysis of policy tools; if short of time, focus your reading on pages 129-136 and 150-173. PDF on Blackboard.

Dean, Tony. ‘Pressures for Change and Government Responses’, in Building Better Public Services. (Victoria: Friesen Press, 2015). Chapter 2, 7-13. PDF on Blackboard

Dean, Tony, “Is Public Service Delivery Obsolete?”, Literary Review of Canada, September 2011. PDF on Blackboard.

Sunhil Johal, Andrew Galley and Melissa Molson, ‘Reprogramming Government for the Digital Era’, Mowat Centre, 2014. Section 1 and Section 2, Formulating Policy, Evaluating Programs and Services. Pages 1-20 and 30-39. PDF on Blackboard.


Salamon, Lester M., ed. The Tools of Government: A Guide to the New Governance. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002). Chapter 1, 1-18. PDF on Blackboard.

Mulgan, Geoff. The Art of Public Strategy (Oxford Press: 2009). Table 4.2, ‘Tools of Government’. PDF on Blackboard.

Pal, Leslie, ‘Problem Definition in Policy Analysis’, ibid., Chap 3. Library.

Osborne, D. and T. Gaebler, ‘Catalytic Government: Steering Rather than Rowing’, in Reinventing Government (New York: Penguin, 1993). Chapter 1, 25-48. PDF on Blackboard.

Briefing Note #1 assigned. Due February 9/10. Students also register this week for their Minister’s Briefing topic. Students will be assigned by Section to their Monday, February 8 Minister’s Briefing Workshop (10-12 noon or 12:30-2:30 pm).

Week 3: Real Cases of Policy Challenges and Responses

Class meets in plenary, CG 160. Guest: David Szwarc, Chief Administrative Officer, Region of Peel. Working to advance the public good demands a long term perspective on the policy objectives to be achieved while taking action toward them over the short and medium term. However, the real world dynamic of decision making is frequently driven by mainly short term issues, events and considerations. Often the initial challenge is to determine what exactly is the problem and what role (if any) government might play in fixing it. How do stakeholder and public opinion shape both problem definition and the potential range of solutions that are considered? How do decision makers balance these with evidence in determining a course of action? Our guest speaker today will walk through some case examples from his own experience as the chief executive of Peel Region, challenging you to assess and present what you would do.

Required Reading

Five case examples prepared by our guest speaker will be posted on Blackboard. In preparation, read the cases against the assigned questions outlined in the case material and be ready for discussion in class where you may be cold-called by our guest speaker to present your analysis and recommended course of action.

Week 4: The Political and Fiscal Context

This week we look at the broader context for implementation and how this influences and alters how the policy problem is framed, what tools are chosen and the overall design of implementation strategy. We place particular emphasis in this seminar on how the fiscal and political context continually interact to determine priorities, implementation strategies and eventual policy outcomes.

Required Reading PDF on Blackboard. PDF on Blackboard. PDF on Blackboard. PDF on Blackboard.


Michael Prince, ‘Avoiding blame, doing good and claiming credit: reforming Canadian income security’, Canadian Public Administration, September 2010, pages 293-296, 315-319. PDF on Blackboard.

Winship, Christopher, “Policy Analysis as Puzzle Solving”, in Moran, Rein and Goodin, ibid., pp. 109-121. PDF on Blackboard.

Week 5: The Stakeholder Context

This week we examine a second major contextual factor – the role of stakeholders, other critical interests and the public in implementation. The landscape or space for implementation – the implementation environment- is characterized by complex, diverse networks of players across the public, private and non-profit sectors. How does this landscape shape the policy tool chosen and in turn be shaped by it? What does government bring to the implementation table, and what do other players? How do these get aligned? How can government be more effective in reaching diverse populations and stakeholders?

Required Reading

Eggers, William and Paul Macmillan. The Solution Revolution. (Boston, Mass.: Harvard Business Review Press, 2013). ‘The Wavemakers’, Chap. 1, 16-50. PDF on Blackboard. Quick read.

Lenihan, Don. Rescuing Public Policy. (Public Policy Forum, 2012) Chapter 6, “The Principles of Public Engagement”, pp. 119-128. PDF on Blackboard.

Rethemeyer, R. Karl, ‘The Empire Strikes Back: Is the Internet Corporatizing rather than Democratiziing Policy Processes?’, in Public Administration Review, March/April 2007, 199-215. PDF on Blackboard.


‘Alberta’s and Ontario’s liquor boards: why such divergent outcomes?, M.G. Bird, Canadian Public Administration, December 2010, pp. 509-527. PDF on Blackboard.

Moore, Mark H. Creating Public Value: Strategic Management in Government. (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1995). Chapter 1, 13-21, Chapter 3, 57-77. PDF on Blackboard.

Week 6: Designing the Delivery Network

Moving from broader contextual considerations, we turn now to thinking very practically about implementation. Over the next three seminars, we will look at a set of enabling conditions for effective implementation. This week we examine how policy leaders begin to structure and manage a delivery network where the key levers for change lie beyond government itself. What are the opportunities and the challenges of working in a network mode within and across sectors? How are relationships and trust built. How are delivery agents held accountable for success? Does digitization change the game?

Required Reading

Stephen Goldsmith and William D. Eggers. Governing by Network. (Washington, Brookings Institution Press, 2004). Chap. 3, ‘Challenges of the Network Model’, 39-52. PDF on Blackboard.

Bradford, Neil. Canadian Social Policy in the 2000s: Bringing Place In. CPRN Research Report, November 2008.   PDF on Blackboard.

Boyens, Mark and Stavros Zouridis, ‘From street-level to system-level bureaucracies: how information and communication technology is transforming administrative discretion and constitutional control’, in Public Administration Review, 62.2, March/April 2002, 174-181. PDF on Blackboard.


‘Delivery Chain’, Cabinet Office Delivery Toolkit, OPS internal document, May 2011. PDF on Blackboard.

Week 7: Outcomes, Governance, Accountability: Understanding Implementation Challenges and Achieving Performance

This week we look at how to achieve results. You need to understand the challenges and risks both in your environment and in your implementation strategy and then find ways to mitigate these. We will focus on mobilizing resources and networks, capacity and accountability challenges and challenges in securing real, measurable outcomes.

Required Reading

Rachel Curren, ‘The Trudeau government’s focus on deliverology shouldn’t distract it from building the public service’s policy muscle’, Policy Options, April 27, 2016. PDF on Blackboard.

David Reevely, ‘Deliverology works great for running government if you don’t mind breaking the bank’. Ottawa Citizen, April 28, 2016. PDF on Blackboard.

Eggers, William and John O’Leary. If We Can Put a Man on the Moon: Getting Big Things Done in Government. (Harvard Business Press: Boston, 2009). Chapter 4, The Overconfidence Trap, 107-134. PDF on Blackboard.

Moore, Mark and Jean Hartley, ‘Innovations in Governance’ in Stephen Osborne, The New Public Governance? 57-69. (Abingdon: Routledge). 2010. Case examples of governance innovations. PDF on Blackboard.


Michael Barber, Paul Kihn, Andy Mofit, ‘Delverology –from Ideas to Implementation”, McKinsey and Company.…/TG_MoG_6_Deliverology.ashx PDF on Blackboard .

Moore, Mark. Recognising Public Value. (2013; Cambridge, Harvard University Press) pp. 1-10, 410-416 plus Figures 2.1, 2.4 and Appendix. PDF on Blackboard.

Stephen Goldsmith and William D. Eggers. Governing by Network. (Washington, Brookings Institution Press, 2004). Chapter 6, ‘Networks and the Accountability Dilemma’, 121-145. PDF on Blackboard.

Paul G. Thomas, “Why is Performance-Based Accountability So Popular in Theory and So Difficult in Practice?”, in KPMG Holy Grail or Achievable Quest: International Perspectives on Public Sector Performance Management. 169-187. 2008. PDF on Blackboard.

‘Risk Management: A Framework for the Identification, Assessment and Management of Policy Risks’, Barry Goodwin, December 2015. An example of risk management methodology at the level of an organization. PDF on Blackboard.

Week 8: Constructing and Communicating Strategy – the Importance of Options in Narrative

This week we focus on how to compare and assess different implementation options, including how well they prevent or mitigate risk. This builds our understanding of how to structure options when designing implementation strategy and how to use options as a critical component in a strong, evidence-based narrative. This class helps integrate our learning from earlier seminars on the importance of context, the strengths and weaknesses of delivery networks and of governance and accountability frameworks in designing implementation strategy.

Required Reading

Case examples to be assigned.

Covello, Vincent and Peter Sandman, ‘Risk Communication: Evolution and Revolution’, 2001. PDF on Blackboard.

Week 9: ‘Frank and Fearless’ Advice

Class meets in plenary, CG 160. Guest: Peter Wallace, City Manager, Municipality of Toronto; former Secretary of Cabinet, Government of Ontario. Being able to communicate effectively with decision makers is critical to your success as a policy professional. This week we will hear from a leading policy practitioner on how to communicate professional advice and recommendations in a way that will resonate with elected decision makers. How can we effectively ‘speak truth to power’?

Required Reading

Zussman, David, “Governance: the new balance between politicians and public servants in Canada”, Optimum Online, Vol. 38, Issue 4, 2008. PDF on Blackboard. PDF on Blackboard. PDF on Blackboard

Aucoin, Peter. ‘New Political Governance in Westminster Systems: Impartial Public Administration and Management Performance at Risk’ in Governance, April 2012, Vol. 25, Issue 2, 177-199. PDF on Blackboard.

Week 10: Minister’s Briefing – Implementation Plan

Class meets by section. Small team presentations to an invited guest ‘Minister.’ Class participation via assigned roles.

Week 11: Minister’s Briefing – Implementation Plan

Class meets by section. Small team presentations to an invited guest ‘Minister.’ Class participation via assigned roles.

Group project final reports due April 3, 5:00 pm.

Week 12: Review, Discussion, Wrap Up

Page created by: Ian Clark, last updated 23 April 2017.