Sunday, November 30, 2014

“Bureaucracy must die . . .”

“There’s no other way to put it: bureaucracy must die. We must find a way to reap the blessings of bureaucracy—precision, consistency, and predictability—while at the same time killing it. Bureaucracy, both architecturally and ideologically, is incompatible with the demands of the 21st century.” [Bureaucracy Must Die, Gary Hamel, Harvard Business Review, 4th Nov 2014]

Given PHL’s cacique hierarchical system and structure, do we then have a prayer to be relevant in the 21st century? At every level of our bureaucracy power is exercised not necessarily for good but for ill as evidenced by our culture of impunity? Is it surprising then that we rank poorly in doing business? We can only pity the efforts behind raising PHL’s competitiveness. And we think a good salesman and good advertising will sell PHL? As marketers know, such idiocy has no place especially in the 21st century.

The solar system gave us the fundamentals of an “ecosystem” – i.e., that it is a synchronized system. And even Einstein would thus acknowledge that there is a Higher Being. Things don’t happen by accident, to paraphrase Speaker Belmonte. For example, while the CB is doing the right thing – “BSP grants full foreign voting rights in banks” – to attract FDI, if we do a rigorous benchmarking exercise and figure out why we rank poorly in this regard among others, the bottom line is we have yet to get our act together, and be in sync!

“It is the unchallenged tenets of bureaucracy that disable our organizations—that make them inertial, incremental and uninspiring.  To find a cure, we will have to reinvent the architecture and ideology of modern management . . . Architecture. Ask just about any anyone to draw a picture of their organization — be it a Catholic priest, a Google software engineer, a nurse in Britain’s National Health Service, a guard in Shanghai’s Hongkou Detention Center, or an account executive at Barclays Bank — and you’ll get the familiar rendering of lines-and-boxes. This isn’t a diagram of a network, a community, or an ecosystem — it’s the exoskeleton of bureaucracy; the pyramidal architecture of ‘command-and-control.’ Based on the principles of unitary command and positional authority, it is simple, and scaleable. As one of humanity’s most enduring social structures, it is well-suited to a world in which change meanders rather than leaps. But in a hyperkinetic environment, it is a profound liability . . . A formal hierarchy overweights experience and underweights new thinking, and in doing so perpetuates the past.” [ibid.]

“Ideology. Business people typically regard themselves as pragmatists, individuals who take pride in their commonsense utilitarianism. This is a conceit. Managers, no less than libertarians, feminists, environmental campaigners, and the devotees of Fox News, are shaped by their ideological biases. So what’s the ideology of bureaucrats? Controlism. Open any thesaurus and you’ll find that the primary synonym for the word ‘manage,’ when used as verb, is ‘control.’ ‘To manage’ is ‘to control’ . . . Managers worship at the altar of conformance. That’s their calling—to ensure conformance to product specifications, work rules, deadlines, budgets, quality standards, and corporate policies. More than 60 years ago, Max Weber declared bureaucracy to be ‘the most rational known means of carrying out imperative control over human beings.’ He was right. Bureaucracy is the technology of control. It is ideologically and practically opposed to disorder and irregularity. Problem is, in an age of discontinuity, it’s the irregular people with irregular ideas who create the irregular business models that generate the irregular returns.”

“As we learned with the Soviet Union, centralization is the enemy of resilience. You can’t endorse a top-down authority structure and be serious about enhancing adaptability, innovation, or engagement.”

But even ideology can be unlearned as the Vietnamese are demonstrating? “Vietnam has emerged as one of the fastest-growing economies in Southeast Asia. It has an open Foreign Investment Law, offering up to 100% foreign ownership . . . Open policies of Vietnam have brought about low trade barriers, fast custom clearances, and simple administrative procedures, thus, shaping a dynamic business environment for Vietnam nowadays. As of June, 2014, more than 16,300 FDI projects were active in Vietnam, pulling in US$238 billion. Manufacturers like Samsung Electronics Co., LG Electronics, Inc., Nokia Oyj, and Intel Corp., have set up operations in Vietnam, another option after China.” [Phoenix-like Vietnam, Floro M. Mercene, Manila Bulletin, 16th Nov 2014]

But how do we Pinoys keep pace with progress? Will Binay be the next president? And will PHL media continue with same old, same old? And so come the election of Binay, we will read more of the same? He will be the salesman-in-chief? And we will read more about PHL oligopoly? More specifically, business headliners will be Ayala, SMC, MVP, SM, Tan, among the chosen few? It is this picture that is our normal that has convinced the world that we simply don’t get it? Of course, given the global economic slowdown since the financial crisis of 2008, underdeveloped countries like us are being given the second if not the third look by investors, but as Vietnam and even Myanmar have demonstrated, we ought to lament that we are only getting the crumbs of these investments.

“Given the impoverished state of Philippine print and broadcast journalism today, there are not too many journalists I turn to for the nourishment of spirit and higher faculties . . . Which only makes more painfully obvious the pallid and insipid hogwash that is made to pass for journalism by those are best licking boots in high places rather that pontificating on issues far in excess of their less than modest intellectual endowments! Inelegant turns of phrase, non sequiturs strung together in some contemptible poor excuse for argument, bits of science artfully combined with voodoo and a generous dose of lower Philippine mythology—these are the morsels these quacks who pass themselves off for bona fide journalists regularly throw the way of their hapless viewership.” [Cheap shots (!),Fr. Ranhilio Aquino, Pensées, Manila Standard Today, 17th Nov 2014]

History and PHL fortunes would have been different if it was Padre Damaso – or a representation of the padre – that was hanged instead of Rizal? That’s more than a century ago yet it appears in 21st century PHL, Rizal’s currency endures? In the meantime, beyond the Age of Enlightenment and even the moon, man has tapped and explored Mars and Comet 67P!

No comments:

Post a Comment