Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Inclusive like quality is built-in

Inclusive like efficiency or quality – as quality gurus preach – is not an afterthought? It must be part of our way of life, and built-in to the way we do things. If we simply look around, do we see efficiency or quality – or even inclusive? When people in positions of influence carry themselves with impunity – with no regard for the common good – how will being inclusive become part of our culture? On the other hand, promoting an industry like garments and overseas employment, with the goal of generating employment, proved short-sighted? The goal must be viability and sustainable growth. And presupposes efficiency and quality, thus competitiveness – which comes from investment, technology and innovation and talent, product and market development! Competitiveness remains abstract since we’re stuck with ‘low-price is nirvana’ – when it should be ‘margin is nirvana,’ if we are to have the firepower to compete globally! [Dominant players would want the status quo because the local market is theirs’ for the taking – and thus “free-market” is criticized for being rigged? Or the kinder version is we’re instinctively parochial it is not on our radar screen?] And why the writer talks of Eastern Europe, where the consumers aren’t well-off either. And why the iPhone outsells cheaper smartphones.

When we travel to Hong Kong or Singapore isn’t efficiency and quality simply palpable and tangible – that even the West is blown away, i.e., the US lags Singapore and Hong Kong in competitiveness? The writer, who worked with them as a regional manager for 10 years, saw firsthand that they learn fast, are forward-looking and committed to competitiveness – the key to economic development in the 21st century. We have to cease leading with our heart telling ourselves that our neighbors are not smarter than us! Action speaks louder than words? And the way we talk of inclusive brings to mind why Rizal was critical of the friars: “Follow what we preach not what we do!” We take our values for granted but if we pause for a moment we may recognize how little we value community, or the common good, while we keep a strong identification with our "own” – if not our status, our parochial or selfish interests? We value family yet the mention of family from amongst ‘the chosen few’ equates to invoking rank and privilege – the same reason many people never warmed up to George W. Bush?

Three years ago when the writer started the blog people were sensing hopelessness. Today, with President Aquino, people don’t necessarily feel assured but are hopeful because of his “daang matuwid.” Unfortunately, the horror stories get worse – and even worst! Says one, “Do you know why there is a debate about the SALN? The reality is our culture of impunity has rendered the very concept of SALN inutile! He who is pure cast the first stone!” Says another, “We like our way of life; our quality of life is to die for – unlike the ‘do-it-yourself’ lifestyle in the West. And so we accept the reality that the chosen few would be calling the shots – be lord and master. And beyond the three branches of government are the kingmakers. Because to run for public office requires tons of money – i.e., the system perpetuates corruption and abuse. There are those who are altruistic, but they are simply overshadowed by the system.”

On the other hand, we’re quick to point to the deficiencies of others forgetting that there is no perfection in this world. Even Eden wasn’t perfect. And in the modern era, even NASA isn’t perfect – and so is Microsoft or Apple or Facebook. And which is why quality gurus preach continuous improvement – i.e., man is the true measure of himself and thus ought to keep raising the bar. Even piousness is work in process. The operative word is work, not inaction. Is our inaction, our being execution-challenged, rendered by our instinctive model of perfection which we won’t satisfy? Where is the image of perfection coming from – our split-level Christianity? Are we fixated with the myth of absolutes like 'materiales fuertes'? Or are we simply backward-looking instead of forward-looking?

What do we really value? Hong Kong and Singapore aren't perfect – but if some of our movers and shakers would visit either one to digest how these people have made competitiveness a way of life, and keep raising the bar, they may realize how deep a hole we've dug ourselves in. Celebrating individual successes is not what it's about. But we have our OFW remittances – which, unfortunately, is simply clutching at straws, ‘consuelo de bobo’? And that’s all we deserve until we galvanize ourselves into action!

No comments:

Post a Comment