Wednesday, January 13, 2016

“Reforms of a palliative nature . . .”

“[A]re not only ineffective but are even harmful when the Government is beset with ills that need radical remedy.” Wittingly or not we created an ecosystem that seems to perpetuate our state of affairs, and so it’s time to call on Rizal – who made the distinction – once again?

And what to do? “‘We are all capable of reinvention,’ says Dr. Roth, a founder of the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford and author of the book, ‘The Achievement Habit.’“ [‘Design Thinking’ for a Better You, Tara Parker-Pope, The New York Times, 4th Jan 2016]

But that means being transformed. “Having talent and good ideas is only part of the equation. The next step – the harder step – is thedoing, taking the responsibility for designing success . . .” [Introduction, The achievement habit: stop wishing, start doing, and take command of your life, Bernard Roth, Harper Business, 2015]

“In the words of Dr. Roth, design thinking helped me ‘get unstuck’ . . . To get started, design thinkers focus on five steps, but the first two are the most important. Step 1 is to ‘empathize’ — learn what the real issues are that need to be solved. Next, ‘define the problem’ — a surprisingly tough task. The third step is to ‘ideate’ — brainstorm, make lists, write down ideas and generate possible solutions. Step 4 is to build a prototype or create a plan. The final step is to test the idea and seek feedback from others.” [Parker-Pope, op. cit.]

“Design thinking is normally applied by people who are trying to create a new product or solve a social problem or meet a consumer need.

“‘Design thinking on the highest level is a way of reframing the way you look at the world and deal with issues, and the main thing is this idea of empathy,’ Dr. Roth says. ‘If you have tried something and it hasn’t worked, then you’re working on the wrong problem.’

“Bernard Roth, a prominent Stanford engineering professor, says that design thinking can help everyone form the kind of lifelong habits that solve problems, achieve goals and help make our lives better.”

How did we define the problem of Juan de la Cruz? That it is one of poverty? Yet we haven’t made a dent despite the billions spent on CCT? Did we in fact fail to “empathize” with Juan de la Cruz and incorrectly defined the problem? In our hierarchical system and structure the ones lowest in the totem pole must be the problem? While those higher up are supreme?

Consider: Even a Silicon Valley company (Evernote) valued at $1 billion fell into the trap – of running around like a headless chicken.

“Evernote had spread itself too thin, and there was no core experience. Though Evernote did, in fact, continue to push out new features and products, they never managed to fix the underlying problem.” [Evernote’s 5% problem offers a cautionary lesson to tech companies,Chris O', 5th Jan 2016]

“Last year, Libin stepped down as CEO and became a venture capitalist; Evernote cut 18 percent of its workforce; and new CEO Chris O’Neill promised to turn things around and bring focus to the company by winnowing that long list of features and services.

“The Silicon Valley mentality fosters a desire to continue building and iterating because if you don’t, you could get lapped by some new competitor who comes along and outflanks you. And sometimes engineers and product developers just get overly enamored with themselves and their ideas and lose sight of the bigger picture.

“Sitting here now, it’s hard to see how Evernote reinvents itself and ever regains that same momentum that justified a $1 billion valuation.

“If you lose sight of the core experience . . . you likely won’t find the road back out.”

Disclosure: The Evernote story was brought to the attention of this writer by a young Bulgarian brand manager who has been working on a new brand that they expect to market in several countries. “I’ve been thinking about this topic, the reason to exist, meeting with our marketing and R&D team. And I worry that we’re biting more than we can chew, coming up with a slew of product claims to the point of being undisciplined. You’ve always stressed the North Star to give us direction. Here’s a shortlist of value propositions that we came up with to put us back on track – any thoughts?”

And that applies as well to the public sector? “Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo continued laying out his vision for a modernized, statewide transportation network . . . During a news conference at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan, Mr. Cuomo called on New Yorkers to ‘think big’ as they did in the past, with equal measures of ambition and audacity.

“‘What happens tomorrow depends on what we do today,’ Mr. Cuomo said. ‘Let’s be as bold and ambitious as our forefathers before us.’” [Cuomo Lays Out Renovation Plan for Penn Station and Farley Post Office, Charles V. Bagli and Emma G. Fitzsimmons, The New York Times, 6th Jan 2016]

But The New York Times, Stanford University, Evernote, The State of New York . . . they’re not Philippine examples?

As a Filipino educator shared with this writer, we Pinoys would first want to know if an idea has worked in the Philippines. It’s too bad so sad, a reflection of our inward-looking bias – and why innovation and competitiveness isn’t associated with Juan de la Cruz?

“How does a company become big—fast, beginning the second decade of the 21st century? Three things. One, have a vision. Two, that vision must be about creating value for customers and your other businesses. Three and probably, the most important, execution must be brilliant, though not necessarily flawless.” [When vision and execution pay off, Tony Lopez, Virtual Reality, The Standard, 8th Jan 2016]

“I looked at the performance of the largest Philippines corporations in sales or revenues in 2014. Then, I looked back at their sales/revenues in 2010.    

“It was the year the Philippines’ major conglomerates and largest corporations redefined their goals and envisioned themselves to become even larger, more profitable, and more relevant, locally and globally, and to provide greater value to their shareholders by diversifying and reaching new scale and breadth.

“San Miguel Corp., for instance, wanted to be the first to reach the P1-trillion mark in sales . . . Between 2010 and 2014, SMC more than tripled its revenues from P246 billion to P788.47 billion, up 220 percent . . . Nobody comes close.”

In other words, SMC is an exception? And given over 99% of our enterprises are MSMEs, indeed we’re far from becoming an industrialized economy? Which means to say if we wait for Philippine models before we espouse state-of-the-art thinking, we would continue to lag our neighbors?

“As a major component for the education and reorientation of our people, mainstream media – their reporters, writers, photographers, columnists and editors – have an obligation to this country . . .” [Era of documented irrelevance: Mainstream media, critics and protesters, Homobono A. Adaza, The Manila Times, 25th Nov 2015]

“Development [is informed by a people’s] worldview, cognitive capacity, values, moral development, self-identity, spirituality, and leadership . . .” [Frederic Laloux, Reinventing organizations, Nelson Parker, 2014]

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