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AmBisyon Natin 2040 has to engage beyond the roadshow

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The National Economic and Development Authority (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 for 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 to 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 extrajudicial killings 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.

Continue reading at Philippine Economy.

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