Saturday, February 6, 2016

Assume you are God . . .”

Is that the way for us Pinoys to overcome “pwede na ‘yan”? If it isn’t obvious yet, this blog has a consistent footnote: “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]

That explains the title of this posting. Development or progress like problem-solving is not linear, and beyond spirituality are the other elements or dots that must be connected.

The first time this writer met his Eastern European friends 13 years ago, he introduced them to a number of biblical metaphors. That if they are to move beyond what they called their dark ages, having been under communist rule for decades, they had to understand that development or progress like problem-solving is not linear. That spirituality is one of the elements or dots that they must learn to connect.

“Humans find it hard to believe in things we did not choose or create ourselves. Such gratuity is precisely the meaning of grace and also why we are afraid to trust it. ‘I am not the source,’ the ego says, ‘so it cannot be happening.’ Yes, it is God in you that always seeks and knows God; like always knows like. We are made for one another from the beginning (Ephesians 1:4-6). Maybe the ultimate grace is to fully know that it is entirely grace to begin with! It is already a grace to recognize that it is grace. 

“In Deuteronomy, God says to Israel, ‘If Yahweh set his heart on you and chose you, it was not because you were greater than other peoples. In fact, you were the least of all the peoples. It was for love of you and to keep the covenant that he swore to your fathers and mothers that Yahweh has brought you out with his mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery’ (7:7-8).” [Implanted Desire, Richard Rohr’s Meditation, 2nd Feb 2016]

But we Pinoys would fall into the trap of holier-than-thou given that we’re the only Christian nation in the region? And so instead of benchmarking and learning from our neighbors we would be critical – i.e., they’re not a democracy? But that’s why it’s good to be reminded that Rizal saw our propensity for tyranny given how we let it be?

The writer has been asked why he talks about the economy when he says he’s not an economist. Development or progress like problem-solving is not linear. [And in the case of PH, we haven’t moved beyond underdevelopment.] And precisely why he introduced his Eastern European friends to “experiential teaching.” That every challenging situation could be a potential teachable moment when the group or team members pull their experiences together and connect the dots.

In the beginning they would always ask, how do they do it in the West – under the assumption that the West has all the answers? While there are best practices that could be borrowed from the West, no one has a monopoly. And that would help them develop the confidence to compete – anywhere in the world.

Assume you are God. What will you do to capitalize on the pluses that you sense or are inherent in the challenge and as important to overcome the minuses? What are and how do you connect the dots? And the writer would break into a smile whenever he hears their back and forth. (He is in Singapore and witnessed how the local team conducted themselves and inspired this posting. And was most recently in New York and before that Bucharest. And they would all assume they’re God.)

Once people get on board and engage in the problem-solving exercise, it is almost predictable how many ideas they will generate. Yet when a challenge or problem is first perceived and acknowledged by the team, the knee jerk is to assume that it is unsolvable. And a typical group will come out with a zillion reasons why.

But once the initial resistance is overcome, they’d come up with five pluses against four minuses or a total of nine. And the magic comes when they would generate an aggregate of eleven ideas – to exploit the pluses and overcome the minuses. [It is called Kurt Levin’s Force Field Analysis and is a powerful strategic tool that this blog has discussed.]

Of course, execution is the next hurdle. And again, prioritizing consistent with Pareto brings clarity and a sharper focus on the problem-solving initiative. Meaning, not all the eleven ideas would be mandatory – i.e., sheer numbers can invite analysis-paralysis – and chances are “the vital few” (or Pareto’s 80-20 rule) would address the challenge. Quick hits and successes bring confidence that the team can build upon . . . Rome wasn’t built in a day.

The evidence? How many industry roadmaps were we looking at? 50? We’re down to 30 yet are neither here nor there? Even Germany would not have 30 industry roadmaps? Why don't we start with 7 like the ones offered by the JFC?

But that is where we Pinoys struggle. We can’t seem to move away from our definition of “inclusive” even when it perpetuates “crab mentality”? And if we don’t learn from experience, we can only sink deeper into the abyss? [And a more fundamental question is: can Juan de la Cruz overcome corruption and incompetence? “Phl left far behind due to bad leaders,” GOTCHA, Jarius Bondoc, The Philippine Star, 5th Feb 2016. “The country has had a succession of crooked, inept transport chiefs.”]

The must to execute is where schoolwork and the real world would part ways. Dissertations are meant to train the mind how to think – and dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s is part of the exercise. The writer assisted two PhD candidates and understood and accepted that – which Einstein would capture in a now popular quote: “education is the training of the mind to think, not the learning of many facts.” But in both cases he had to stress the caveats, that even the most elaborate algorithm can’t be absolute. And in the real world, Pareto’s econometric model rules. Which is also a confirmation of what the scribes and the Pharisees learned – not quantitatively but qualitatively, the affirmation of wisdom beyond law?

And what a coincidence: one of them just emailed the writer. “I was offered to be the global manager of one of the company’s top brands based in London.” From a subsidiary job in a small Eastern European country to a global project assignment at HQ to a regional job in Europe and to a global job today. Does she dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s? Of course not! But she would blow them away . . . every step of the way.

Assume you are God. Can Juan de la Cruz step up to the plate?

“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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