Friday, March 25, 2016

The good, the bad . . . and the caveat

Development is a continuum . . . Juan de la Cruz is neither living in a tree nor in the 21st century world. Yet he’s part of the latter – an OFW (working in faraway places separated from family) or manning the phones of a BPO. Indeed he brings home the bacon – aka as our major income streams.

And with our 100-million strong consumers, we enjoy a consumption economy that: (a) delivered enviable growth over the recent past; (b) created 11 billionaires that made it to the Forbes’ list; and (c) generated public coffers that, sadly, sustained a culture of impunity. What is our reality? The good, the bad . . . and the caveat.

The caveat? Would sitting in Metro Manila’s traffic be a “teachable moment” for us? What would explain our inability to deliver something as basic as vital infrastructure? Try (a) crab mentality and/or (b) the tyranny that comes with hierarchy and paternalism. And did we create a monster by our parochial bias – protecting and preserving (a) political patronage and dynasties and (b) crony capitalism and oligarchy? And everything goes downhill from there? 

And so when we talk of competitiveness demanded by the 21st century world like trade, we talk defense not offense, i.e., protectionism? Indeed we’re not ready for TPP – we don’t have the competitive products like our neighbors do? Conversely, we know why we don’t attract FDIs. Benchmarking is (a) outward-looking and (b) focused on the best practices of others – not their weaknesses. Try growing up. 

Indeed man wants the familiar, and the stability, that comes from a routine and a habit. Even excellence is derived from a habit. But what’s the difference? The mindset. A fixed mindset nurtures a routine that perpetuates the status quo. A growth mindset attains stability via a platform – e.g., a sense of purpose and values – that can be built upon . . . geared to stand up and face a changing world with confidence.

But if globalization is what a changing world is about then it's a failure? Because we want to take the good – e.g., OFW remittances and the BPO industry – but not the bad?

And why Trump is winning the hearts and minds of America with his isolationist (aka parochial and insular) rhetoric – albeit less than the majority of the party’s delegates and caucus-goers? They forget that to whom much is given much is expected – like to be the hegemon amid the world’s despots?

There’s a piece of America that is not well-informed! Try selling “Coca-Cola” (i.e., major US brands) only in the US and see: (a) how the multiplier effect will work in reverse; (b) how much unemployment they will suffer; and (c) how the US will retreat in the development continuum. It’s about scale (think Zara and Uniqlo) and the economies and benefits that come with it. [To think big, we Pinoys must first develop a community sense – beyond family and beyond local?]

Advanced economies indeed have challenges that come with full-development – where productivity and growth have reached diminishing returns and thus much slower. Still, they must keep looking ahead and up the value chain. Man has much, much more to learn – he claims to know the Big Bang theory but not its construct, for example – and so he keeps messing things up. Unsurprisingly, the US failed to punish the culprits of the Great Recession. Similar to the Great Depression it has unleashed man’s bad side. When man is hungry how different is he from a raging bull if not the rest of the animal kingdom?

Still, the Tea Party’s it’s my way or the highway (aka paralysis) is not the answer. Try restitution [from greedy bankers that matches the crime] instead of crab mentality.

“It’s the Global Economy, Stupid,” Jeffrey E. Garten, Time, 25th Feb 2016. “Most of [the candidates for US president] give the impression of wanting to turn the clock back to an older, simpler world of many generations ago when the US could go it alone or else call all the shots.

“It cannot be done. Globalization began some 60,000 years ago, when a number of families walked out of Africa to find food and security. There have been pauses in the trend, such as during the middle ages, and even some interruptions, such as the period between the two world wars in the 20th century. Globalization has been beset by wars, depressions and horrendous natural disasters. But whatever the swerves and setbacks, the inexorable direction and momentum has been towards a smaller and more interconnected world.”

Development is a continuum. It is “biology” – the survival of the fittest. It’s the ability to transform, e.g., from a caterpillar to a butterfly or a tadpole to a frog. The writer’s laptop runs on Windows 7 Professional. If Windows has had several versions, what more of globalization?

“Our genes influence our intelligence and talents, but these qualities are not fixed at birth. If you mistakenly believe that your capabilities derive from DNA and destiny, rather than practice and perseverance, then you operate with . . . a “fixed mindset” rather than a “growth mindset.” [What you believe affects what you achieve, Bill Gates,, 7th Dec 2015]

Note the point Gates makes about practice and perseverance. Perseverance is resoluteness, a strong belief or faith like conviction. And so we can’t turn against crab mentality and the culture of impunity? It takes a growth mindset to develop perseverance. Did our sheltered upbringing inform a fixed mindset?

Consider: the Vatican stubbornly stood by “the world is flat” for the longest time. Fast forward to the 21st century: Finally . . . after a century . . . the world was able to prove that Einstein was right.

And do they explain why despite the lapse of several decades, we Pinoys have no track record in industrialization – and how to move up from Third-World to First-World? And Binay can fix this in 6 years? Or Poe or Duterte or Roxas? Or Santiago? What about Bongbong? See above: We created a monster . . . that even martial law and EDSA 1&2 failed to slay!

Yet we Filipinos don't like unsolicited advice the latest examples being (a) the JFC's 7 industry winners and (b) the RCBC money-laundering case? Are they reflective of the tyranny of parochialism and hierarchy that have isolated us from progress and development? Why is Francis battling the Curia? Blind obedience to hierarchy immortalizes tyranny and subservience isn’t what our faith is about? The evidence? Both PH and the Curia are transparency-challenged?

And what do we see around us? For example, why is the Korean community in the Philippines growing? The writer asked a Korean family and the response is: South Korea’s costs structure is that of a developed nation; and it is easier for a mom & pop’s enterprise like ours to thrive in the Philippines. 

Clearly this Korean family is entrepreneurial. And while the US is entrepreneurial as a nation, there are those that are away – in their mind or heart or spirit if not physically – from the economic hubs of the East and West coasts that are not. Which all the more makes globalization bad.

Enter: Lee, Mahathir and Deng – who would see through that! And why Singapore, Malaysia and China can compete and win? Water seeks its own level! Translation: (a) an SME can be an MNC; and (b) to be a small entrepreneur or a small farmer is not destiny. It’s all about the mindset! It is mind over matter!

Why are we Pinoys the regional laggard? “Who . . . [is] responsible . . .? Short answer: our political leaders . . . whose decisions, supposedly taken for the public good, are in truth motivated by a desire for private gain and result in policies and projects that impoverish rather than enrich our country . . . [they] find ‘public service’ so lucrative that they decide to make a family enterprise out of it, creating dynasties . . . Graft and corruption permeate all levels of public life . . .

“Perhaps in no other country in South Asia is political dishonesty so widely recognized, accepted and talked about as a part of the political game . . . [W]e are unique – in corruption . . . [T]he presence of these dynasties is correlated with higher poverty, lower per capita income, lower primary education completion rates . . . [T]hey account for 70 percent of regular legislators in the Congress [in 2012].” [“The Philippines’ ‘buwaya problem,’ Solita Collas-Monsod, Get Real, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 5th Mar 2016]

Why are we “blind” to political dynasties? Is it all about family – or our mistaken notion of family values? Or is it the outcome of the viciousness of our “ecosystem”. It cannot create and sustain a competitive economy – a characteristic shared by wealthy nations. Instead it goes from poverty – and circles back – to poverty!

Is Prince Charles not decent enough? Why do they need Prime Minister David Cameron? And why do we need Marcos and Imelda and Imee and Bongbong? Does the Marcos dynasty compare with the British Royalty – i.e., did the Swiss offer to reveal their Swiss account and return them to the British people and set an example for other tyrants? But we love tyrants – and are the breeding ground for generations more to come, so says Rizal?

In a recent posting the blog talked about Kurt Lewin’s Forced Field Theory. There are always positive and negative forces that drive and restrict our ability to move forward.

The key is to exploit the positives and overcome the negatives – via a growth mindset. Sadly, we’ve embraced destiny – a fixed mindset – and gave it a positive spin, charity? To develop a growth mindset we must learn to look ahead, internalize Pareto's 80-20 rule and learn to wait for our turn – to wait in line. And it applies even when driving in our archaic Metro Manila streets. 

It is the time of year when many Pinoys are in town as balikbayans – including those attending their alma mater’s homecoming. And the stories they hear would make one laugh if not cry. But it’s home – we take the good with the bad? The caveat: We must pursue transformation – not extinction?

“Why independence, if the slaves of today will be the tyrants of tomorrow? And that they will be such is not to be doubted, for he who submits to tyranny loves it.” [We are ruled by Rizal’s ‘tyrants of tomorrow,’ Editorial, The Manila Times, 29th Dec 2015]

“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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