Sunday, December 1, 2013

Trend forecasters

It will be a multi-faceted world, full of ironies; connecting technology and art/fashion; connecting different themes and genres. It will be a world of contrast, not harmony; even conflicting ones – or good and bad – like economies, one part of the world will be wealthier while another could even be in decline. The emerging markets of Asia and Latin America will be wealthier and trendier. Individualism because of the human instinct to be happy will be pronounced; including the desire for luxury even in a mass-market world. The bottom line: progress and development will continue despite the sense of imbalance.

What does it mean for PHL? We have a choice: (a) we could be with the declining economies, with more poverty; or (b) with the wealthier ones, with less poverty? Of course, for the elite class, the third choice is evergreen: the status quo?

Every year for the last several years, my Eastern European friends and I would sit down to listen to trend forecasters. It’s very critical in a business that demands continuous product development. It’s part of our continuing education and training efforts. They weren’t that forward-looking before. Consider: our office kitchen running out of coffee or sugar or milk or our printer running out of paper. And so I commented that at my old MNC company, the pantry was next to the office of the president. And like a light switch being turned on, we don’t run out of any of them anymore.

But one incident affected me personally when the individual (and he was fired) who pays the bills in my apartment missed paying the electric bills (apparently for 3 months.) And as I was coming home from a trip to a neighboring country, a colleague who was driving got a call that my apartment was dark. And after a couple of phone calls: “I have to take you to a hotel, it has been arranged. It’s a Friday night and you won’t have electricity until Monday.” They called it “golyama katastrofa” or a major catastrophe!

It brings to mind typhoon Yolanda? “It takes a village,” as Hillary Clinton would put it. We may need a czar but not only given Yolanda is an add-on to our to-do list: to eliminate the restrictive economic provisions of the Constitution; to fix the power or energy crisis; to get basic infrastructure erected; to get industrialization off and running? It takes a village – to get political dynasties and "savage capitalists" [to borrow from Pope Francis] and their cohort, including in the media, to unshackle their stranglehold on Juan de la Cruz? Hint: The world is moving at warp speed; it won’t wait for us!

First we must have a vision beyond “que sera, sera,” then we must get the basics right, and then we can be proactive? And it is not new; Rizal saw it over a hundred years ago? And it takes a village. Even my Eastern European friends, despite deliberate efforts over the last ten years could still lapse into complacency. And so during our recent session with the trend forecasters, I felt it prudent to separately pull aside a couple of them if only to confirm that we were all hearing the same message.

But being human, despite two Mensa members among them, I'd expect them to be defensive whenever they sensed that I saw a chink in their armor. “I see these things – surprise, surprise – because I’ve been around the block a few times; been there, done that.” But as importantly, it is imperative to appreciate that “constantly raising the bar” is a fundamental given in the 21st century globalized – and very competitive – world. And so not just one has been fired since I arrived. While my role is to assist individuals and the organization, in a culture of transparency and meritocracy that they've embraced, non-performers are exposed. And one rotten apple spoils the whole barrel. And why in this blog I have raised “mistaken compassion” a few times. Which translates to PHL failure in good governance – as in the rule of law – or crab mentality or Bondying culture? Question: why do we have corruption, again?

We Pinoys are very defensive about criticisms and that is to be expected. We’re as human as everyone else. Yet we named Jose Rizal national hero so that he’d be our model? But it appears Padre Damaso is our model instead? Because he’s higher up in the hierarchy and even holds the keys to heaven? How are we going to handle the future given Rizal’s assessment that we’re backward and anti-progress?

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