Thursday, August 17, 2017

The elite class holds the key to the transformation of Juan de la Cruz

Translation: We are a disaster waiting to happen because the elite class is not predisposed to change – given we cherish that we belong? “If people keep growing, their various false selves usually die in exposure to greater light. That is, if they ever let greater light get in; many do not.” [What Is the False Self (?), Richard Rohr’s Daily Mediation, 7th Aug 2017]

Let’s start with education – which in more ways than one explains how we stitch up institutional failures. Where do we stand? And do our actuations reflect our standing? We still believe that we are God’s gift to mankind? “Philippines lags in Asian university rankings,” Janvic Mateo, philstar.com, 16th Mar 2017. Unsurprisingly, those of us that can afford, do send our kids to the West. And why should we send them to local schools? Yet, we’re the ones not predisposed to transformation? [More to the point, we need more than the K-12 initiative, for instance. See below re our culture of impunity. It explains why whether in the regional or global arena we’re in a downward if not death spiral. And consider what Einstein says about education: It is not the learning of many facts but the training of the mind to think.]

“The ranking is based on 13 performance indicators grouped into five areas: teaching (the learning environment), research (volume, income and reputation), citations (research influence), international outlook (staff, students and research) and industry income (knowledge transfer) … [T]he Philippines was not included in the countries identified to have the potential to follow the footsteps of Asian higher education powerhouses such as China and South Korea.” [Mateo, op. cit.]

But do our actuations square with reality? “My spirits were … buoyed when Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said that “build, build, build” was about not only infrastructure but also human capital.” [Unity of purpose now, Peter Angelo V. Perfecto, Business Matters, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 12th Aug 2017]

What is reality? “Execution problem,” Boo Chanco, DEMAND AND SUPPLY, The Philippine Star, 14th Aug 2017. We have a habit of electing officials who talk big, encourage us to dream big, but fail to deliver. They seem to think that their only obligation is to make feasibility studies. Never mind implementation or execution. That’s why they call their programs, The Dream Plan.

“I just came upon a memo dated April 11, 1995 jointly signed by then DTI sec. Rizalino Navarro and then finance secretary Roberto de Ocampo that suggested we should have had a new international airport at Clark 20 years ago. That’s right – two decades ago. That Navarro and de Ocampo memo was approved by FVR May 18, 1995.”

Recall a recent post re sub-optimization … and here is another example: ‘Outages’ send tourists packing, Robert A. Evora, Manila Standard, 14th Aug 2017. “[Puerto Galera Mayor Rockey] Ilagan lashed out at [Ormeco general manager Pat] Panagsagan and NPC manager Maximo de los Reyes for ‘holding the town hostage’ since they just announced in a recent public consultation that the 69 kv rehabilitation was approved since last February.

“In between the months of February and July or for six months, Ormeco and NPC did not tell Puerto Galera officials that there would be a major rehabilitation of the 69 kv line that would affect power delivery in the municipality.”

And what about something truly mind-boggling? Or have we already turned callous and blasé? “P25-B discrepancy in Malampaya Fund,”EDITORIAL, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 14th Aug 2017. “It seems that the multibillion-peso Malampaya Fund will never be free of controversy. Four years ago, former president Gloria Arroyo and her top officials were charged with plunder for the reported diversion of P900 million in Malampaya money meant for typhoon victims to bogus foundations of alleged pork scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles.

“Three members of then President Benigno Aquino III’s economic team also faced graft charges at the Office of the Ombudsman for allegedly failing to account for P136 billion worth of royalties from the Malampaya natural gas project.”

What is our saving grace? “Not too late for manufacturing (Part I),” Bernardo M. Villegas, Manila Bulletin, 13th Aug 2017. “One of the worst consequences of the Philippine economy descending to the level of ‘the sick man of Asia’ in the last century was the lackluster performance of its manufacturing sector … This weakness of the Philippine economy was highlighted in a Special Report of the Hong Kong-based think tank CLSA entitled ‘Quest for a champion:  ASEAN manufacturers.’ 

“The Philippines was readily discarded as a potential winner because of its past poor performance in this important part of the industrial sector (which comprises in addition to manufacturing such other sectors as mining, construction, and public utility).

“The contest, though, remains open; the country that resists protectionism and opens its economy fully to trade and foreign investment will ultimately be champion.”

But can we resist protectionism and open PH economy fully to trade and foreign investment? As the blog has argued, ours is a culture of impunity, the outcome of our way of life: Parochial and insular; hierarchical and paternalistic; political patronage and dynasties; and oligarchic. And they kill inquisitiveness, imagination and creativity.

And that is why we’re not even in the game. But because we’re between a rock and a hard place, we must do our homework. Take this classic article, for instance: “Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail,” John P. Kotter, Harvard Business Review, May-June 1995.

“Over the past decade, I have watched more than 100 companies try to remake themselves into significantly better competitors. They have included large organizations (Ford) and small ones (Landmark Communications), companies based in the United States (General Motors) and elsewhere (British Airways), corporations that were on their knees (Eastern Airlines), and companies that were earning good money (Bristol-Myers Squibb). These efforts have gone under many banners: total quality management, reengineering, right sizing, restructuring, cultural change, and turnaround. But, in almost every case, the basic goal has been the same: to make fundamental changes in how business is conducted in order to help cope with a new, more challenging market environment.

“A few of these corporate change efforts have been very successful. A few have been utter failures. Most fall somewhere in between, with a distinct tilt toward the lower end of the scale. The lessons that can be drawn are interesting and will probably be relevant to even more organizations in the increasingly competitive business environment of the coming decade.

“The most general lesson to be learned from the more successful cases is that the change process goes through a series of phases that, in total, usually require a considerable length of time. Skipping steps creates only the illusion of speed and never produces a satisfying result. A second very general lesson is that critical mistakes in any of the phases can have a devastating impact, slowing momentum and negating hard-won gains.

“Perhaps because we have relatively little experience in renewing organizations, even very capable people often make at least one big error. [And among them …]

“(1) Not Establishing a Great Enough Sense of Urgency; (2) Not Creating a Powerful Enough Guiding Coalition [Major renewal programs often start with just one or two people. In cases of successful transformation efforts, the leadership coalition grows and grows over time]; (3) Lacking a Vision; (4) Under communicating the Vision by a Factor of Ten; (5) Not Removing Obstacles to the New Vision; (6) Not Systematically Planning For and Creating Short-Term Wins; (7) Declaring Victory Too Soon; (8) Not Anchoring Changes in the Corporation’s Culture [In the final analysis, change sticks when it becomes ‘the way we do things around here,’ when it seeps into the bloodstream of the corporate body. Until new behaviors are rooted in social norms and shared values, they are subject to degradation as soon as the pressure for change is removed.]”

Why are we a disaster waiting to happen? Beyond our culture of impunity, consider: (a) we lack the sense of urgency; (b) foresight is not in our bag of tricks that we can’t formulate and agree on a vision and be focused and engaged; (c) we can’t anticipate and banish obstacles to change; (d) we don’t prioritize and seek quick wins and get the biggest bang for the buck to boost our confidence in the change efforts; (e) we like to declare victory prematurely; (f) we can’t internalize the imperative of change especially when outside our comfort zones.

“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]

“National prosperity is created, not inherited. It does not grow out of a country’s natural endowments, its labor pool, its interest rates, or its currency’s value, as classical economics insists . . . A nation’s competitiveness depends on the capacity of its industry to innovate and upgrade.” [The Competitive Advantage of Nations, Michael E. Porter, Harvard Business Review, March–April 1990]

“Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.” [William Pollard, 1911-1989, physicist-priest, Manhattan Project]

“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]

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Sub-optimization mindset behind PH underdevelopment

“Sub-optimization is a situation where a processprocedure, or system yields less than the best possible outcome or output, caused by a lack of best possible coordination between different components, elements, parts, etc.” [businessdictionary.com]

This is not the first time the blog raised sub-optimization – aka “pwede na ‘yan” – as a barrier to PH growth and development. And it boils down to our inability to demonstrate foresight – and why community and the common good is alien to us.

“But as the old Bob Dylan song goes, the times are a-changin’. There are at least four trends [(a) unemployment rate; (b) deployment of OFWs has slowed down; (c) quality of domestic jobs improving; (d) the economy is growing on a broader base, both on the supply and demand sides] in the economic data that suggest growth is getting more inclusive, and benefiting a wider range of our people, including the poor … These are indeed clear signs of more inclusive growth. We must have been doing something right in the past several years. Whatever it was, we need to keep doing more of it.” [Inclusive growth is finally happening, Cielito F. Habito, NO FREE LUNCH, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 8th Aug 2017]

In other words, given OFW remittances and the BPO industry bring roughly $50-B or 17% of the economy, we must be doing something right. And we need to keep doing more of it.

A consumption economy (that accounts for 73% of GDP) like ours generates what economists call the multiplier effect of investment – though not to the extent an investment economy does – and at the end of the day, it explains why the economy has been growing in the 6%-7% range; as well as our lead in industrial production growth of 8.4%, against Vietnam’s 83% of PH, Malaysia – 50%, Indonesia – 42%, Thailand – 37%.

Oishi, Jack ‘n Jill and Jollibee (foods) and Islander (flip-flops) are popular, successful and growing Philippine brands and businesses, to name just a few, and they benefit from our consumption economy – and are among those behind the uptick in investment. Although Islander can learn from the others by thinking regional, if not global, and compete against global brands like Havaianas.

As the blog has argued, we must learn to look outward and forward, not keep to our backward, parochial and insular instincts. Take investment in fixed capital which represents the supply side of the economy, how do we compare against our neighbors? Ours stand at 22.3% of GDP while Thailand is 108% greater than PH; Vietnam – 115%; Malaysia – 117%; Indonesia – 148%.

That is what the blog means when it talks about our need to rapidly erect an economic platform that is world-class – i.e., to overcome decades of deficits in infrastructure development, industrialization and innovation and competitiveness.

Figure out if indeed ours is an inclusive economy given our income per person (GDP at PPP) which stands at $7,700 when Indonesia is 152% better than PH; Thailand – 218%; Malaysia – 353%. And we cannot celebrate that Vietnam is behind us at 83%. Vietnam beats us in FDI (183% more) and exports (443% greater) and the compounding effect will leave us in the dust.

Those are staggering numbers that we must overcome and they explain why it will take a generation even at 7% GDP growth for PH to truly be an inclusive economy. And that is assuming we get our act together to keep that pace of growth. And the blog has pointed out the obvious: the generation of the writer is toast!

Consider: “The flow of Japanese investments has started to slow down in the Philippines, blamed partly on certain policy changes such as the government’s pivot to China and Russia.

“Preliminary data from the Japan External Trade Organization (Jetro) showed Japan’s outward foreign direct investments (FDI) in the Philippines plunged 56.6 percent in the first five months of the year to $561 million.

“On the other hand, Japan’s FDI in other Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam, Thailand and Singapore increased by double digits in the same period.” [Japan investments plunge 57%, Richmond Mercurio, The Philippine Star, 8th Aug 2017]

In other words, for a guy playing catch up, we truly know how to mess things up. Consider too: “Is MRT 3 hopeless (?),” Boo Chanco, DEMAND AND SUPPLY, The Philippine Star, 11th Aug 2017.

“That visit to Clark and the news that BCDA’s Vince Dizon is all set to bid out construction of the airport very soon is good news. Vince PMed me to say that the ‘Terms of Reference’ or ‘TOR’ will be released this week. Interest has been expressed by 12 parties, all foreign and with experience in building airports. 

“More specifically, the pre-bid conference is set for Aug 22; opening of bids on Oct. 28 (two months to prepare proposals); award to be made on Nov. 28; groundbreaking on Dec. 19 and first quarter 2020 for turnover of the facility. Since it will be on a turn-key basis, there will be no money problems to delay execution.

“Back in Manila, it is back to reality. Is the MRT-3 hopeless?  A recent column of my colleague, Jarius Bondoc, seems to indicate it is. Our last hope, the new Chinese-made trains, is a no-go.

‘The 48 coaches from China bought by former DOTC Sec Jun Abaya at the cost of P3.8-billion in 2013 is a total waste. Jarius reported that the coaches are 3,300 tons too heavy. Specifications were for a weight of 46,300 tons for the 48 coaches. What the Chinese manufacturer delivered totaled 49,600 tons.

‘The new units cannot be driven up the hundred-million-peso jack for periodic inspection and upkeep of the bogey frames, wheels, and brakes. There is no space at the depot to install a new jack just for the faulty trains. Mechanics have no elbowroom to repair or replace crucial under-chassis parts.

“I suppose this means they are back to square one.”

“Here's why your attitude is more important than your intelligence,” Dr. Travis Bradberry, World Economic Forum, Industry Agenda, 9th Aug 2017; Dr. Travis Bradberry is Coauthor of EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE 2.

“When it comes to success, it’s easy to think that people blessed with brains are inevitably going to leave the rest of us in the dust. But new research from Stanford University will change your mind (and your attitude).

“Psychologist Carol Dweck has spent her entire career studying attitude and performance, and her latest study shows that your attitude is a better predictor of your success than your IQ. Dweck found that people’s core attitudes fall into one of two categories: a fixed mindset or a growth mindset.

“With a fixed mindset, you believe you are who you are and you cannot change. This creates problems when you’re challenged because anything that appears to be more than you can handle is bound to make you feel hopeless and overwhelmed.

“People with a growth mindset believe that they can improve with effort. They outperform those with a fixed mindset, even when they have a lower IQ, because they embrace challenges, treating them as opportunities to learn something new.”

This is not the first time the blog spoke to the growth mindset. In our case, do we in fact value being static as opposed to dynamic? We appear to be in the Benedict camp, does it mean we don’t buy the theology of Francis?

“What Is the False Self (?),” Richard Rohr’s Daily Mediation, 7th Aug 2017. “Your egoic false self is who you think you are, but your thinking does not make it true. Your false self is a social and mental construct to get you started on your life journey … It is largely defined in distinction from others, precisely as your separate and unique self. It is probably necessary to get started, but it becomes problematic when you stop there and spend the rest of your life promoting and protecting it.

“Jesus would call your false self your ‘wineskin,’ which he points out is only helpful insofar as it can contain some good and new wine. He says that ‘old wineskins’ cannot hold any new wine; in fact, ‘they burst and both the skins and the wine are lost’ (Luke 5:37-38). This is a quite telling and wise metaphor, revealing Jesus’ bias toward growth and change. ‘The old wine is good enough’ (Luke 5:39), says the man or woman set in their ways.

“The false self, which we might also call the ‘small self,’ is merely your launching pad: your appearance, your education, your job, your money, your success, and so on. These are the trappings of ego that help you get through an ordinary day.

“Please understand that your false self is not bad or inherently deceitful. Your false self is actually quite good and necessary as far as it goes. It just does not go far enough, and it often poses and thus substitutes for the real thing.

“The false self is bogus more than bad; it pretends to be more than it is … If people keep growing, their various false selves usually die in exposure to greater light. That is, if they ever let greater light get in; many do not.”

“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]

“National prosperity is created, not inherited. It does not grow out of a country’s natural endowments, its labor pool, its interest rates, or its currency’s value, as classical economics insists . . . A nation’s competitiveness depends on the capacity of its industry to innovate and upgrade.” [The Competitive Advantage of Nations, Michael E. Porter, Harvard Business Review, March–April 1990]

“Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.” [William Pollard, 1911-1989, physicist-priest, Manhattan Project]

“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]

Sunday, August 6, 2017

What leadership is and isn’t

‘I think the president has to keep in mind a couple of things,’ Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.) said Thursday. ‘Jeff Sessions, like all Cabinet members, works for the United States of America. They don’t work for the president; they work for the people … The president’s a smart man, and he ought to know that.’ [GOP lawmakers openly defy president as frustration mounts, Mike DeBonis, The Washington Post, 27th Jul 2017]

Can we Filipinos square the circle? And here is how another US senator demonstrated what leadership is and isn’t. “Americans glimpsed a rather different idea of public service in the wee hours of Friday when Senator John McCain turned his right thumb down and blocked his party’s attempt at policy making by partisan riot, its farcical scramble to attack the health care system with no vision for how to remake it.

‘Stop listening to the bombastic loudmouths on the radio and television and the internet,’ he implored the Senate. ‘To hell with them. They don’t want anything done for the public good. Our incapacity is their livelihood.’

“Let’s hope that Senator McCain’s words, rather than Mr. Scaramucci’s expletives, echo in Americans’ ears in the days to come. Perhaps the new chief of staff, John Kelly, will change things [like he fired Scaramucci], but to date the president has too many aides who lack the competence to govern the country or the character to set an example for it.

“Over and over again, Mr. Trump has shown himself to be a small man, and he is engaged in shrinking the presidency to fit himself. As Mr. McCain demonstrated again on Friday, the senator is built of different stuff, and on a grander scale.” [Mr. McCain and The Mooch, Editorial, The New York Times, 29th Jul 2017]

And it’s not just one or two senators that have [sturdy] backbones … “They passed legislation to stop him from lifting sanctions on Russia. They recoiled at his snap decision to ban transgender Americans from the military. And they warned him in no uncertain terms not to fire the attorney general or the special counsel investigating the president and his aides.

“Republican lawmakers have openly defied President Trump in meaningful ways this week amid growing frustration on Capitol Hill with his surprise tweets, erratic behavior and willingness to trample on governing norms. But at the same time, they’ve worked to advance legislation they want him to sign.

“In the latest signs of a backlash, Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Wednesday he would not hold hearings on a replacement if Trump dismissed Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said Thursday he would pursue legislation that would prevent Trump from summarily firing special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

‘Some of the suggestions that the president is making go way beyond what’s acceptable in a rule-of-law nation,’ Graham said. ‘This is not draining the swamp. What he’s interjecting is turning democracy upside down.’

“Some of the defiance came from already outspoken Trump critics such as Graham and Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), who rebuked the president from the Senate floor Thursday.

‘If you’re thinking of making a recess appointment to push out the attorney general, forget about it,’ Sasse said. ‘The presidency isn’t a bull, and this country isn’t a china shop.’” [DeBonis, op. cit.]

And they’re not talking about killings as in EJKs – which in our case we accept as a given. And we claim we don’t live in trees because we’re wiser than Solomon – to set a legislator accused of plunder free but let poor Juan de la Cruz and his family suffer via EJK? Indeed, we hold the keys to heaven? Or we’re stuck in an ideology – the Damaso theology – and yet to be introduced to the Franciscan theology – a God of love and not of fear – that Francis has embraced. Because like all of creation, the Church isn’t static but dynamic?

Must we – the Filipino people – figure out what the rule of law is and isn’t … and what leadership is and isn’t? Sadly, our instincts of hierarchy and subservience firmly hold us like the claws of a vise. And why the blog has teed up the risk we face – if we’re not a disaster waiting to happen, yet – and that is, there is a thin line between a downward spiral and a death spiral, if we chose to be static instead of dynamic.

Why have nations in the region overtaken us growth and development-wise? And as insane as Einstein calls it, we go through our Pinoy ways over and over again – and yet expect PH to magically turn into an inclusive economy, unmindful of the vicious circle upon us?

Because we now have a president that is the knight in shining armor?

“The recent State of the Nation Address of President Duterte, where he declared he will pursue his war against drugs in an unrelenting manner, confirms that we have the closest thing to a one-issue presidency.

“Mr. Duterte himself had on many occasions pointed out that poverty fuels the drug trade while terrorism is partly funded by the drug lords.

“On this basis, it would appear that the war on poverty should be our primordial concern since it underpins the two other ongoing wars. Nonetheless, the war on drugs has defined our national policy.

In foreign relations, we have classified as unfriendly any leader or country criticizing Mr. Duterte’s bloody war on drugs, among them former US President Barrack Obama, former UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, Pope Francis and lately, the European Union.

“On the other hand, we have claimed as friends leaders like Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin who had not endorsed Mr. Duterte’s war on drugs but simply remained silent on the issue.” [Single-issue presidency, Hermenegildo C. CruzPhilippine Daily Inquirer, 31st Jul 2017]

If repeatedly Trump has shown himself as a small man, what about Du30? “Duterte is in over his head. His conceit is that his overrated stint in Davao City provides him the blueprint for dealing with the complexities of the country’s historical ills. He misrepresents authoritarianism for political will and resort to mass murder and bullying tactics for decisive leadership.” [Unmasking Duterte, Carol Pagaduan-Araullo, Streetwise, BusinessWorld, 31st Jul 2017]

It is not only in politics where leadership matters. Do we wonder why we don’t represent innovation and competitiveness? Leader-dependency and deference kills inquisitiveness and imagination and creativity. And why foresight isn’t in our bag of tricks.

Test every “kuro-kuro” we come across and chances are they are a reaction to a stimulus aka reactive as opposed to proactive or, at best, a product of incremental thinking. [Why do we think the Chinoys today dominate PH economy?]

What we sorely need is out-of-box thinking. Instead of shrinking our playing field, we must seek to expand it. But we are handicapped by parochialism and insularity. We take it for granted that our two major income streams – OFW remittances and the BPO industry – can make us the next Asian Tiger so long as we pursue the conventions of monetary and fiscal policies.

Of course, we saw the opportunity presented by tourism. But to transform PH from an underdeveloped to a developed economy demands a world-class platform. Yet we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. And it is not rocket science to learn from the Asian Tigers. But it takes a commitment to community and the common good if the leadership and the people are to figure out and traverse the journey from poverty to prosperity. 

Even expertise can’t be absolute – and stand in isolation – and why the blog has raised the collapse of Long-Term Capital Management (a hedge fund) which was led by two Nobel Prize-winning economists; while endorsing Design Thinking, developed by Stanford University, which is cross-discipline and team-based. And so, the blog also brought up the pioneering efforts of Fr. Bulatao in group dynamics, Filipino-style.

For example, the right leadership recognizes that innovation and product development does not reside in R&D alone. And it explains the following statement referenced above: “Over and over again, Mr. Trump has shown himself to be a small man, and he is engaged in shrinking the presidency to fit himself.”

True leadership delivers synergy and outsized outcomes by leveraging the dynamism of the team. And why in the case of Apple products, Steve Jobs is not the only name that comes with the patents they earned.

While Du30 is brave … is this … and is that …? Because it is Juan de la Cruz that chose to be a small man?

What is leadership? It is not the opposite of leader-dependency and subservience – because the latter feeds and breeds the monster we know as impunity!

“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]

“National prosperity is created, not inherited. It does not grow out of a country’s natural endowments, its labor pool, its interest rates, or its currency’s value, as classical economics insists . . . A nation’s competitiveness depends on the capacity of its industry to innovate and upgrade.” [The Competitive Advantage of Nations, Michael E. Porter, Harvard Business Review, March–April 1990]

“Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.” [William Pollard, 1911-1989, physicist-priest, Manhattan Project]

“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]

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

AmBisyon Natin 2040

The Neda must be applauded and encouraged for coming out with AmBisyon Natin 2040: A long-term vision for the Philippines. What about media, should media be allocating time and space to keep AmBisyon Natin front and center of Juan de la Cruz? Or how do we become more sensitive to the imperative of “community and the common good”? Think about it. If we acknowledge that our institutions have failed us, it is the starting point.

The challenge then is for Neda to engage us beyond the roadshow they did to showcase the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) for 2017-2022. If you have bought a book from Amazon, you will be in their engagement crosshairs. It can be annoying but this writer is a sucker and he’s not alone otherwise Jeff Bezos would not be the richest man in the world.

Full disclosure: The writer – given his MNC background where bridging planning and execution is religion, and it’s the mantra he has preached to his Eastern European friends – finds the Neda document loaded with platitudes. But that should not discourage us because visions are not as concrete as the war on drugs, for example. And concrete is what gets people’s attention as in EJK despite putting our Christianity to a test.

Neda can learn from one of the great visionaries of all time – a genius in the league of Einstein and Beethoven. “20 Years Ago, Steve Jobs Demonstrated the Perfect Way to Respond to an Insult,” Justin Bariso, inc.com, 26th Jul 2017. “In 1997, Steve Jobs had just returned to Apple, the company he had been ousted from over a decade before. He was answering questions for developers at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference when one audience member took a shot at him: ‘Mr. Jobs, you’re a bright and influential man,’ he begins.

‘Here it comes,’ responds Jobs, as both he and the audience chuckle. Then, the famous insult:

‘It’s sad and clear that on several counts you’ve discussed, you don’t know what you’re talking about. I would like, for example, for you to express in clear terms how, say, Java and any of its incarnations addresses the ideas embodied in OpenDoc. And when you’re finished with that, perhaps you can tell us what you personally have been doing for the last seven years.’ Ouch.

“But Jobs’s response is a perfect demonstration of what to do in this situation. He takes a pause. He takes a pause, sits in silence ... And thinks. ‘You know,’ he begins his reply. ‘You can please some of the people some of the time, but ...’ Another pause.

‘One of the hardest things when you’re trying to effect change is that--people like this gentleman--are right! ...In some areas,’ explains Jobs.

“But becoming familiar with every feature of every app is not the CEO’s job, as he goes on to explain. He helps everyone see the big picture. Jobs goes on to outline his role at Apple: ‘It’s not to know the ins and outs of every piece of software. Rather, it’s to see the big picture, to reiterate the vision, and to keep everyone on course:

‘The hardest thing is: How does that fit into a cohesive, larger vision, that’s going to allow you to sell eight billion dollars, 10 billion dollars of product a year? And one of the things I’ve always found is that you’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology. You can’t start with the technology and try to figure out where you’re going to try to sell it.’

‘And I’ve made this mistake probably more than anybody else in this room. And I’ve got the scar tissue to prove it. And I know that it’s the case … There are a whole lot of people working super, super hard right now at Apple,’ Jobs exclaims. He names a few examples, before going on to credit the whole team, literally ‘hundreds of people.’

‘They're doing their best,’ says Jobs. ‘Some mistakes will be made, by the way. Some mistakes will be made along the way. And that’s good. Because at least some decisions are being made along the way. And we’ll find the mistakes, and we’ll fix them,’ Jobs says to applause.

“He then comes full circle to the original questioner: ‘Mistakes will be made ... some people will not know what they’re talking about, but I think it is so much better than where things were not very long ago. And I think we're going to get there.’”

There is a lot to digest from the Steve Jobs story. Neda with the help of media can direct us to the big picture, constantly reiterate the vision and keep all of us on course – fitting the pieces into a cohesive, larger vision.

As AmBisyon puts it, “Where do we want to be?” In the case of Apple, with products to sell, Jobs explains, “you’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology. You can’t start with the technology and try to figure out where you’re going to try to sell it.”

“AmBisyon Natin 2040 is a picture of the future, a set of life goals and goals for the country. It is different from a plan, which defines the strategies to achieve the goals. It is like a destination that answers the question “Where do we want to be?”. A plan describes the way to get to the destination; AmBisyon Natin 2040 is the vision that guides the future and is the anchor of the country’s plans.”

And clearly to bridge planning and execution equals lots and lots of hard work ... as well as making mistakes and fixing them. And why there is constant decision-making challenges. And that is a handicap we must recognize as a nation. Beyond the lack of foresight, do we suffer from the inability to learn from our mistakes?

We are now into Martial Law II or ML Lite. We used to dread it ... yet now many of us applaud it? Have we learned from the past? Another example: It took decades to make NAIA 3 a reality ... and the next airport will take decades again? Where is the credibility behind Build, Build, Build ... if there is one? Is it EJK?

What about tax reform? Are we taking BOC, as an example, for granted? Tax reform cannot take a bureau tasked with tax assessment and collection for granted. If we truly understand global competition, there are imperatives we must step up to. There is no tentativeness in global competition. We either win or we lose.

It applies as well to our inability to attract foreign direct investment (FDI.) Yet we want to count the chickens before they hatch? Comparing FDIs – and let’s forget Singapore for the moment being a league all its own – what is the real picture? Relative newcomer (to the free market) Vietnam has amassed 183% more FDI than PH, Malaysia – 246%, Thailand – 304%, and Indonesia – 466%.

And why “investment” is central to the blog and the requisite platform of an inclusive economy – e.g., infrastructure development, industrialization and innovation and competitiveness. To be an inclusive economy is not about platitudes and populism. It is about reality. Which reminds the writer of Fr. George?

And, the Oxford University program, “From poverty to prosperity: Understanding economic development.” This body of knowledge is truly relevant if we are to succeed with AmBisyon.

We’ve always been tentative in the pursuit of industrialization. Wittingly or not, we wasted 6 years with the Aquino administration that kept the JFC’s 7 industry winners in the backburner. And is Du30 doing any better? As the blog pointed out in an earlier post, if we are to get industrialization going, we must learn to focus on fewer industries – to overcome “crab mentality” – and where we will get the biggest bang for the buck. We must get quick wins to give us the confidence in the quest for something truly grand – and where we have no track record to bank on. Our penchant for “kuro-kuro” is no substitute for real world experience.

“And the top PH exports are a good starting point while we inject greater market orientation and figure out consumer needs – and scale and ascend the value chain. [These are PH’s top exports that yield a trade balance surplus: (1) Electronic machinery, equipment; (2) Wood; (3) Optical, technical, medical apparatus; (4) Ships, boats; (5) Fruits, nuts; (6) Ores, slag, ash; (7) Gems, precious metals; (8) Knit or crochet clothing, accessories; (9) Leather/animal gut articles; (10) Vegetable/fruit/nut preparations]

“To establish a true north and to prioritize both demand foresight.”

Beyond learning from Steve Jobs, Neda must also figure out the “driving and restraining forces” that will either spell the success or failure of AmBisyon Natin 2040. While problems in execution are bound to crop up, being proactive and putting on the table these positive and negative forces will stand the AmBisyon enterprise in good stead.

And overcome something that has dogged us, a vicious circle, a sequence of reciprocal cause and effect in which two or more elements intensify and aggravate each other, leading inexorably to a worsening of the situation. [Google]

And what better example than our culture of impunity, a by-product of: parochialism and insularity; hierarchy and paternalism; political patronage and dynasties; and oligarchy. And unsurprisingly, foresight is not second nature to us.

More to the point, our instincts of hierarchy created the Pinoy caste system that neutered “forward-thinking” on one hand, and nurtured subservience on the other. This vicious circle must constantly be in the headlines to clear the way forward for AmBisyon.

“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]

“National prosperity is created, not inherited. It does not grow out of a country’s natural endowments, its labor pool, its interest rates, or its currency’s value, as classical economics insists . . . A nation’s competitiveness depends on the capacity of its industry to innovate and upgrade.” [The Competitive Advantage of Nations, Michael E. Porter, Harvard Business Review, March–April 1990]

“Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.” [William Pollard, 1911-1989, physicist-priest, Manhattan Project]

“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]