Saturday, August 27, 2011

‘Practice makes perfect’

But nobody’s perfect, so don’t practice.’ Lifted from ‘6 inspirational quotes to live by’ which is circulating in cyberspace. Is it another expression of authentic Filipino humor? We also share most things profound including homilies like this one in the writer’s inbox: “. . . Although Peter could not clearly see Jesus, his voice was enough to encourage Peter to walk on water. Faith is indeed connected to our ability to hear God’s voice . . . People nowadays are so busy and distracted with many things. We are multi-task human beings; we do many things at the same time, but lose our focus in the process . . .”

It is not only in our faith journey where focus is imperative? When the writer first met his Eastern European friends, he was delighted to hear that they were committed to focus on the business. And would not just chase low-hanging fruit! And thus the writer reinforced the point: In today’s globalized and highly competitive world, one could discount focus if they were in a banana republic – where hierarchy and monopoly rule, instead of ‘the rule of law’, characterized by oligarchy on the one hand and massive poverty on the other? General Electric, the US conglomerate, is an exception and is a carryover from America’s ‘pre-modern’ era. In Japan, some popular zaibatsu brands have been overtaken by Korean competition if not acquired by Chinese enterprises. Of course, in Asia, where we’re still evolving into the ‘modern age,’ we have a number of these conglomerates. That is not a problem per se.

But the 21st century successful businesses are those where focused investments – innovation, R&D and market research, for instance – are the driving force. And so in supposedly poor Eastern Europe, the writer’s favorite ice breaker when he’s with a group is: “Raise your hands if you have an iPhone?” And they proudly do! As importantly, they’ve learned that even in a simple business like consumer-packaged goods, they could develop and incorporate higher value-adding characteristics into their products. Under communist-rule they had to contend with products that were ‘not user-friendly,’ tissue paper for one, and thus found liberation. Poor isn’t helplessness?

If ‘practice makes perfect’ . . . but because ‘nobody is perfect’ . . . would we rather not practice? Unfortunately, because we haven’t truly pursued global competitiveness, our worldview has yet to evolve? And sadly, the folks behind our PPP initiatives would only confirm that our restrictive economic statutes are undermining the administration’s efforts to attract foreign investments – an important source of technology, innovation, talent, and product and market access? And beyond these formal restrictions is something more frightening: a confluence of interests? Are we, for instance, still questioning if foreign investments guarantee employment or if it’s a bane to local entrepreneurs? In the meantime, our neighbors continue to attract them? Of course, fierce competition could undo businesses that are unable to stay ahead of the curve. For instance, Pfizer, once among the 3 largest enterprises in the US, and iconic Kodak, both once major global employers, have had rough patches. And they’re not alone!

The reality: Competitiveness is the only genuine economic security especially during hard economic times – not shutting out the critical drivers: of investment, technology and the global market? What we need is to squarely face our shortcomings – e.g., our inability to compete, which starts with poor infrastructure beginning with energy? Unfortunately, local vested interests (as a legislator-columnist writes) are behind the scene campaigning against FDIs – i.e., we would have the same half-a-dozen entities behind every major project? But what technology and/or innovation have they pursued that can travel outside the Philippines? The ideal route for our industry is to emulate global enterprises, those that are committed to aggressively driving competitiveness – by focusing resources accordingly. We have to shed the ‘banana-republic model’ of monopoly power! Handicapping is for amateur golf!

Should we then seek to elevate the probability of positively shifting our destiny as a nation – and not implicitly accept a downward trajectory if not a point of no-return? Or what would be left for us is to ‘walk on water’ – or as a friend would explain: only faith and prayers would save us? What we must pursue then is to lift our (a) investments and (b) competitiveness in a major way – i.e., commit to focus and prioritize and execute?

No comments:

Post a Comment