Sunday, February 26, 2017

PH to move forward needs more than a knee-jerk

Poverty, politics and patriotism. When we especially in the chattering classes are asked about PH, chances are, we would name a couple of these or similar interests or concerns. But would quickly add, “but we’re moving forward.”

More than a few would have advocacies to address poverty and many look up to the leadership and the role of politics to address them. Take federalism, for instance. There are those that believe we must move from the unitary system to a federal system as though it’s a magic wand. [See below re model thinking.]

The writer is winding down their annual homecoming where with the wife they visit with friends and family and see places, meet friends of friends and new acquaintances. It can be a jaded world, i.e., traveling on the Skyway to Makati is liberating, or relying on Uber. But the writer would choose to drive to visit parents’ resting place in Loyola Marikina. And even on a Sunday, Edsa would make one wish that it’s the Skyway . . . and reality hits home . . . “DOJ chief falls victim to ‘fake ambush,’ screams a news report. 

But PH is moving forward. The glass is half-full. It is more than half-full going by what wife and writer would feel – whenever they’re home – in Palawan, the Hacienda Sta. Elena [with its tasteful and green-inspired clubhouse] and the surrounding community (they watched an Oscar-nominated movie in a world-class cinema), Tagaytay High/Midlands, Lian (in Batangas in a beach house) and, of course, the dining and shopping experience – be it Greenbelt, Filinvest or Solenad, among others.

Reality. A friend would assure the wife that “we don’t just party among ourselves, we have advocacies to help, feed and educate the poor.” What version of the iPhone do you have, the writer asked a group of friends as the conversation drifted to what we really mean when we say we’re moving forward. And more to the point, what is it like to be forward-looking?

A recent posting discussed how we can move up the value-chain in tourism. Because to be forward-looking is to be dynamic, not static – not to settle for “pwede na ‘yan.”

Consider: There is no sacred cow, no hierarchy in brainstorming. If we are to move forward, we must recognize that today’s excellence is tomorrow’s commonplace. Not surprisingly, globalization and technology, that have brought us the iPhone, have become fodder for the waves of nationalism and isolationism confronting nations.

Does leadership know best? Let’s take Trump, does he have a good handle on his agenda? Is that manifested by retreating to his “base” – and his comfort zone – campaigning instead of governing? Because his approval rating is at a low 40%, the lowest, compared to his predecessors? Not surprisingly, “Quinnipiac’s survey found that 52% of voters trust the media more than they trust Trump, while only 37% said they trusted Trump more.”

What about Du30? Edward de Bono, the creator of “Lateral Thinking,” developed the “6 Thinking Hats.” That hierarchy does not necessarily grant a franchise to one individual – including the boss – to be all-knowing. And in a brainstorming session, to generate the best ideas, de Bono postulates leveraging the six thinking hats: (1) fact-based; (2) brightness and optimism; (3) judgmental; (4) feelings, hunches, intuition; (5) creativity; and (6) manage the process.

In other words, “[G]roups that display a range of perspectives outperform groups of like-minded experts. Diversity yields superior outcomes, and Scott Page proves it using his own cutting-edge research. Moving beyond the politics that often clouds standard debates about diversity, Page explains why difference beats out homogeneity. And he examines practical ways to apply diversity's logic to a host of problems.” [The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies, Scott E. Page, Princeton University Press, 2007; Page is professor of Complex Systems, Political Science and Economics, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor]

And “[M]ost social scientists sensibly thought that interdisciplinary knowledge was better than knowledge obtained by a single discipline.” [The major blind spots in macroeconomics, John Lanchester, The New York Times, 7th Feb 2017]

“The difficulty with the 4Cs (critical thinking, collaboration, communication, creativity) is that you cannot just teach them in a purely classroom setting. These are skills [students acquire] as they grow and learn, interact with their environment, and how that environment is supportive to the development of these skills. Proper parenting is very important in developing the 4Cs.

“Most families are ruled by an autocratic parent or both who do not allow open and honest conversations. The same with the dominant religion that purports to have all the answers and does not allow dissent or open discussions.

“In its 2011 report titled ‘Crosswalk of 21st Century Skills,’ Hanover Research based in Washington, DC, analyzed the list of 21st-century skill sets . . . The six frameworks listed a total of 13 themes, with four skill sets common to all. Not surprisingly, these are: 1) collaboration and teamwork, 2) creativity and imagination, 3) critical thinking, and 4) problem solving.

“The report likewise saw a definite trend toward emphasizing the global community, from civic literacy and citizenship and global and cultural awareness to social responsibility. Another up and coming skill is the ability to demonstrate flexibility and adaptability—an outcome of living in a fast-paced, digital environment in which information and situations change rapidly. [The] aim is to teach students to not only recognize the fast pace of the digital world but also to take it upon themselves to seek out the new and innovative.” [More on 21st-century skill sets, Butch HernandezPhilippine Daily Inquirer, 11th Feb 2017]

Translation: there is no place for “pwede na ‘yan” in the 21st century. Nor even in addressing poverty.

There are no precise estimates of rural poverty incidence today, but it would be in the region of 33% as compared to about 10% urban incidence. Low productivity and narrow diversity of agricultural raw materials limit the scale of agri-food processing industries that create steady jobs.

“Development analysts agree about the need for agriculture to grow at 3.5% to 5% over long periods to reduce poverty, especially rural poverty. Rural poverty in the medium term cannot be reduced by lower income taxes, employment in BPOs (business process outsourcing) and the 4Ps (conditional cash transfers).

“Where to? Growth must be broad-based. Growth and poverty reduction should not rely on two or three products. There are markets and market constraints to consider. Reality checks are paramount why investments in agriculture have not taken off.

“Land reform, NPA taxation, and poor infrastructure, among others, have been flagged by the private sector. Investments require economies of scale to attract investors. The five-hectare retention limit is way below investors’ threshold, like it or not. Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand had no comprehensive land reform but managed to dramatically reduce poverty. Sobering lessons.

“Strategy guru Richard Rumelt once said: ‘The kernel of a strategy contains three elements: a diagnosis, a guiding policy, and coherent action.’ [And] Unilever CEO Paul Polman said in World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2012: ‘Investing in agriculture brings one of the highest returns you can have.’” [Growing agriculture to reduce poverty: The simple math, Rolando T. Dy, MAP Insights, Business World, 21st Feb 2017]

PH needs more than a knee-jerk. Whether it is to overcome poverty or our concerns about politics or the war on drugs or federalism and patriotism. [Let’s reprise the 21st century skill sets: 1) collaboration and teamwork, 2) creativity and imagination, 3) critical thinking, and 4) problem solving.]

The blog recently discussed model thinking, which is a methodology to oblige collaboration and teamwork. That is, teams would harmonize into an ecosystem different frameworks from different disciplines and perspectives.

For example, whether it is services, agriculture or industry, there is a product or service that must find a wide base of consumers or market. And why innovation must be second nature to the enterprise. And a fundamental framework is what marketers call the marketing mix (product, pricing, placement, promotion). And another one is the resource mix (men/women, machine, materials, money, method) and also the execution mix (who will do what, when, where and how.)

Of course, it takes practice and experience to move away from linear and logical thinking to model thinking. And from individual work to collaboration and teamwork. Or for a PH to imagine and become a competitive, developed and wealthy nation. That presupposes we want to reinvent Juan de la Cruz. Otherwise we can be well on the way to a failed state if we aren’t there yet. Are we in fact better off today that when we pulled off People Power?

“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]

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