Saturday, May 9, 2009

Planning and Execution

It was a year ago over Holy Week when friends and relations expressed elevated frustrations about the economy. And subsequently this writer wrote to columnists and newspaper editors with the view to engaging them in the process – please refer to “Genesis of this blog”.

The writer now senses that while our economic challenges remain serious news reports and opinions are becoming more forward-looking: economists are offering new initiatives to explore in the export arena, the Department of Trade and Industry is harmonizing export initiatives for greater impact, we have ongoing efforts to drive economy in partnership with Japan and Taiwan, etc.

As we plan and gear up to execution, we face the reality that planning and execution can be miles apart – that execution is never a given – such that even the best institutions can fall flat on their face when it comes to execution. But that does not mean we should throw in the towel.

What is important is that we start on the right foot.

Focus and Leadership

Great athletes are great because they can psyche themselves up and focus like a laser. They are not unlike our tycoons; reading the many stories and profiles of our tycoons reveal the common denominator of great achievers.

In the military focus is established by “defining the hill” – what is the object of the exercise?

In the case of China and the Asian tigers they had to “leave the old ideological debates behind”; that allowed them to focus on their economy. And in all cases leadership was the common denominator – to define the hill and to leave the old ideological debates behind.

Leadership and Democracy

Fundamental in democracy is we get the leaders that we deserve – or why there was EDSA I, i.e., we did not elect Marcos for life so we made him account for stepping beyond the line. And in the case of the Americans, the hard lesson they learned with Bush, i.e., electing him twice – that made Europeans wonder about American sanity?

Our leaders come from among us: we cannot pin corruption in isolation on our leaders until we ourselves (the pool from where our leaders come from) have taken individual and collective responsibility in fighting corruption. Sounds foreign given our hierarchical culture? Or sounds daunting?

Character-building starts with baby steps; and with the young it starts at home and in school – recognizing that spoon-feeding is not synonymous to character-building (see; Our romanticized view of America).

For instance, how can our Boy Scouts or PMTs or ROTCs embrace citizenship like volunteering to assist traffic aides? How can businesses engaged in transportation support and sponsor campaigns to step up traffic management? What about the homeowners in our gated communities; what community-building initiatives can they pursue? How can the numerous civic organizations step up teaching and practice of civics within their respective constituencies – for instance, beyond the Rotary 4-Way Test, can we adopt a practice by American managers in response to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act – managers sign a yearly personal declaration that they did not engage in any form of bribery in the country where they represented their employer? How can the church isolate the poor from exploitation by vote-buying politicians? If not the church, who?

The list goes on; “beyond the Filipino focus on family (and our tendency “to shelter” and consequently “be sheltered”) we have the community to sanctify”, so said one Filipino priest.

In earlier articles the writer talked about focusing on driving our economy as well as the starting point of the undertaking – execution will not be a walk in the park yet starting on the right foot is a good start.

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