Saturday, June 11, 2011

Beyond communication

Behind a successful brand is an outstanding product? There are fundamentals we can’t ignore – granting we all want to lift the economy and the country up? Thinking and believing make it so . . . when the critical elements of an undertaking are in place? We want a new Philippine brand to burnish our image – thankfully it is what the Aquino administration is pursuing?

But the president by himself can’t do the job? Corruption is so insidious that major projects carried over from prior administrations are headline news. And everyone is crying foul as these projects come under scrutiny – with Juan de la Cruz oblivious to the inefficiencies, the costs of delays that set progress, development and GDP back? In business lingo, it hits us at the bottom line! Until we subscribe to the discipline of transparency, we would slip into the habit of opaqueness? Is the issue behind the fiasco of NAIA 3 out in the open? What about the ones of the Laguna Lake rehab, the Ro-Ro ports deal, the North Rail, etc.? These major projects may have already muted the outrage of the incurable compassionate Juan de la Cruz but foreign investors are watching – wondering about our numbness, i.e., how could such nice people keep shooting themselves in the foot? Not that all foreign investors are desirable – but the key is transparency? Respectable investors would respect us, and foreign investments would come if transparency is the rule?

It brings to mind an op-ed piece from the NY Times, June 4th: “An Archbishop Burns While Rome Fiddles.” The Vatican has been on a PR offensive to address the issue of sexual abuse opening its doors to US media to get nosey American journalists to hear it from the horse’s mouth. Yet, the efforts fall flat when the archbishop of Dublin can declare: “Nobody could have read what I have read and not did what I did,” he said as he walked me out into the windy spring day, writes the NY Times columnist. “If I didn’t react to the stories I heard, there would be something wrong.” And she adds: “He could not get through a story about “a really nasty man” — an Irish priest who sexually abused, physically tortured and emotionally threatened vulnerable boys — without pulling out his handkerchief and wiping his nose.”

We can fiddle with the shortcomings inherent in our economy – from the lack of basic infrastructures to corruption to raising barriers to foreign investors – but while doing so we can’t expect to optimize our efforts in rebranding the Philippines? We believe condoms will destroy the country when insidious corruption on top of parochialism and false patriotism already did? As the World Bank says, we ought to be attracting a lot more tourists and making tourism a strategic industry like they do in Thailand or Malaysia; but not when our world-class attractions are inaccessible thus limited to the moneyed-class – i.e., very consistent with our value of hierarchy? The mantra of excellence and competitiveness extracts a great measure of discipline – there is no free lunch? Imelda was a terrific promoter of the Philippine brand, and successfully orchestrated the big IMF meeting in Manila decades ago. We saw that she was a no-nonsense taskmaster and successful lifted our profile in the process. Beyond the meeting itself and the events that surrounded it, we saw infrastructure projects and 5-star hotels rise up as though via a magic wand. But how do you hide poverty and so she resorted to ‘white-washing’ fences along the roads in the vicinity of the airport.

And the rest is now history: crony capitalism became the economic engine of the Philippines? Marcos wanted us to join him in his supposed fight against oligarchy while creating his own version? But he knew the soft spots in our culture and so we all applauded in support of the new hierarchy he created? And it reinforced our patronage system? Our challenge goes beyond communication or branding – and why we’re economic laggards?

The writer is chatting with an Eastern European and she laments that it takes courage before they could admit to a mistake. And the writer shares stories of leaders who simply admit mistakes: The sooner we admit mistakes the sooner we can fix them. Mistakes are as old as man, and mistakes can be fixed, but not if we don’t admit to them? And it takes courage according to a young Eastern European? Demonstrated, for instance, by the archbishop of Dublin?

No comments:

Post a Comment