There are thousands of Suffolk graduates who work or have worked in state and local government in Massachusetts. Indeed, the Sawyer Business School’s Moakley Center for Public Management alone has awarded certificates to more than 2,000 government and nonprofit employees.
That’s just one reason Governor Charlie Baker and his first chief of staff Steve Kadish spoke to this fall’s cohort of certificate students. They’ve recently co-written a new book, Results: Getting Beyond Politics to Get Important Work Done, and wanted to discuss their ideas with people who are on the ground doing that work in various state agencies.
“There’s a lot of literature in the public sector about why and what, but less about how,” said Baker about their motivation for writing the book. “We wanted our focus to be on the how.”
The governor appeared live from his office in the State House, while Kadish was in person with 40 certificate students; another 140 or so joined online. In a lively discussion moderated by Professor Susan Spurlock, Baker and Kadish shared advice and anecdotes about some of the issues Baker has faced since he took office in 2015. One theme was that on all the challenges, Baker and Kadish applied the guidelines they outline in the book: people are policy, follow the facts, focus on “how,” and push for results.
“We like to start with performance metrics as soon as possible on an initiative,” said Kadish. “They’re not always right when you start, but there are a way to objectively understand whether the problem you think you are solving is getting better.”
The certificate students in the discussion come from a range of state agencies: the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS), Executive Office for Administration & Finance, Holyoke Soldiers’ Home, Pappas Rehabilitation Hospital for Children, and more. For many, it was the first day of class, so it was especially memorable to have the governor welcoming them to Suffolk.
“It was great to experience the access that Suffolk has to the State House,” said Daniel Lewis, a community support manager at the Department of Children & Families who’s enrolled in the Human Service and Leadership Management certificate. “To be able to broker that kind of conversation [with the governor] is really valuable.”