Creating Impact in Guatemala


Claudia Valenzuela came to Harvard Kennedy School looking for a global perspective. As the general administrator of the Office of the Superintendent at the Tax Administration Agency of Guatemala, Valenzuela is part of a team focused on turning around an institution that has faced years of corruption and inefficiency.

“We found there was very low staff morale and lack of motivation to do things right” Valenzuela shared. “However, our team didn’t fear starting from scratch, so we did.”

As part of the efforts, Valenzuela helped develop a new strategic planning process for the agency incorporating Problem Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA) methodology, a framework she learned in the Public Financial Management in a Changing World executive program. The new work plan, still in its early stages, is already having a positive impact. The agency is prioritizing resources by narrowing its list of competing projects from more than 90 to just five.

“When you haven't prioritized and focused your efforts on initiatives that provide a higher impact for the agency, you will not achieve your strategic goals,” said Valenzuela.  “Narrowing that project list is our first big step and it is with these projects that we are starting the implementation of PDIA.”

By using the tools that she learned at HKS, Valenzuela was able to redirect her organization toward a better future. She sees this venture as one of the biggest accomplishments of her career.