Friday, January 6, 2012

‘Horses for courses’

President Aquino is acknowledged to have put us on the right course, and the challenge is for us to truly be the right horse for that course (i.e., the right person or the right tool is imperative for success, says the British idiom.) And it appears we’re pulling the different pieces together so that indeed we are equal to the task?

Recognizing how big a hole we’re in would reveal how genuinely uphill and challenging our course is. There is vigor to address power generation, and that we’ve spelled out the definition of success, and would produce adequate supply at competitive rates? And it is truly heartening that we’ve stepped up efforts behind the PPP initiatives, and that we’ve sharpened priority parameters, and would generate the biggest bang for the buck? It is encouraging that our enterprises are pursuing innovation, and that we’ve crystallized the endpoint, and would raise our global competitiveness? Thus like in most global measures we must recognize that we rank poorly in patents granted, reports Business World, 29th Dec. The other reality about innovation and patents is that typically foreign interests generate more than the locals – which means we must overcome the instincts to shut the rest of the world out . . . because we could always build upon their product ideas like Apple does?

Yet successful project execution is a daunting challenge in and of itself especially major ones, and thus the imperative to stay anchored. Knowing the project’s ‘nirvana’ (e.g., to complete the project on time and on specs) and the players’ ‘reason for being’ (e.g., to elevate our capacity to be a developed nation via the building blocks of an economy) would keep the undertaking on an even keel even in the face of intimidating obstacles and barriers. Influence peddling, on the other hand, thrives in complexity . . . and when we add our penchant for ‘abilidad’ and ‘paraan,’ and inclusion and ‘paki’ and ‘awa’ we are cultivating and perpetuating inefficiency . . . and corruption! But to stick to the task is to us being ‘suplado?’

But Juan de la Cruz is optimistic; it is important to be optimistic especially given our faith. Yet it does not mean sticking our head in the sand? Invoking resiliency when the reality is we’re dealing with over half a century of mediocre economic performance should raise alarm bells? Writes Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, fast and slow, pp.155-158, Oct 2011: “They keep making the same mistakes: predicting rare events from weak evidence. When the evidence is weak, one should stick with the base rates . . . The problem sets up a conflict between the intuition of representativeness and the logic of probability . . . [It applies even to sophisticated respondents in the study]: Doctoral students in the decision-science of the Stanford Graduate School of Business, all of whom have taken advanced courses in probability, statistics, and decision theory.”

It reminds the writer once again about the two Nobel laureates behind the implosion of Long-Term Capital Management, whose mathematical model worked, but not when the market turned sour. Are we Filipinos hopeless? Not if we pull ourselves by our boot straps! The strongest motivation behind the continuing progress of the writer’s friends came from the Eastern European themselves: their unequivocal commitment to leave the dark past behind and the unmistakable desire to define their own future. Except that they did not know exactly how to get there. And the writer would share a simple path: “We will keep it simple. We must come to terms with your reality, and that is, where you are, where you want to be and how you will get there.” (And in 2011 the European Business Awards recognized them as one of the EU’s best.]

Nine years after his first visit to Eastern Europe a New York consulting firm taps the writer to work with their expanding team of consultants in Manila. And after describing the outcome they want, the writer shares: “We will keep it simple. We must come to terms with your reality, and that is, where you are, where you want to be and how you will get there.” And in a New York-minute the program is born. Clearly beyond the writer, they are piggybacking on the reality of a ‘living and breathing’ business case, not a mere case study coming out of the dark ages. It parallels Apple’s approach to innovation: they define the needs of the 21st century lifestyle with products like the iPod or the iPad yet piggyback on technologies from others like Toshiba’s hard drive and Corning’s tiger glass. To reinvent the wheel is folly!

1 comment:

  1. I hope more Filipinos would be reading articles like this. One of the factors that puts us where we are now is ignorance. We know more of telenovelas and showbiz personalities reflecting of our life as a people and nation is never in our awareness generally. This is the kind of ignorance I am speaking about. Your article are thought-provoking and insightful for a start. Thanks.