Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Pearl Principle: The Prescriptive Approach For National Progress

(First of three parts of a series of articles written for the Business Section of the Philippine Daily Inquirer by Professor Nelia Cruz-Sarcol, Founder and CEO of the Centre for International Education.)

Part 1:

The Pearl Principle advocates believe that perennial problems of the country may be solved by addressing them at source. When we say at source, we really mean on per province basis, or the closest we can go--- to able to solve certain problems. Since policy making is very much influenced by the actual needs of clients who are end-users and beneficiaries of our services, the closest we are to the actual implementers and beneficiaries of a development plan, the more viable and relevant the solution/plan would be. This is not a new strategic approach because most successful private businesses have been using it to better manage the quality of delivery of their products or services. There may be variations in the implementation for private sector and the government but the fundamental principles are still the same and applicable to both.

We do not believe in “generic solutions” to the problems that beset the country. A “shotgun approach” may hit the target, but the splinters may cause harm to the surrounding “by-standers”… we mean, other neighboring cities, towns and municipalities. Generic solutions should supposedly “kill the enemy” called poverty. Decades have passed, the situation still remains the same, to some localities, it’s even worse now.

There are prosperous cities in certain provinces but some of the surrounding areas are still disadvantaged, depressed and underserved (DDUs). Even within city enclaves, you can see poor sections within the vicinity of progressive districts or even within a barangay. Example of which is in Makati and Muntinlupa, among others. Development has not trickled down to the greater majority.

I personally see this situation everyday whenever I turn my chair around and look out through the glass curtain wall of my office on the 28th floor of RCBC Plaza. I look down and I can see the Makati Medical Center, the famed Ayala Avenue, the old, yet, still beautiful, and the upcoming commercial buildings and condos being marketed as very modern- or should I say, post-modern in design with world-class amenities. But as I move my gaze to a small area right in front of Makati Medical Center- two blocks away from Ayala Avenue… is a group of shanties sticking out like a “severely sore thumb” of a confused society. I say “confused” because I question our role in the continued existence of such maladies.

It is still mind-boggling to see such a scenario in a very progressive city. This small spot that I see from my window is just approximately 5,000+/- square meters in size with maybe 150+/- families. If the leaders (government and civil society) cannot address such a problem, how else can we solve bigger and more complex issues at hand? The Pearl Principle idealogy teaches that CHANGE MUST BEGIN FROM WITHIN… AND WITHIN OUR SPHERES OF INFLUENCE.

We should ask ourselves… have we done enough? Who did we do it for? Who else should benefit from the perceived development that is happening? What can we do now? We must do right thing.

The Pearl Principle proposes the use of the Prescriptive Approach as against Generic Approach to Development Planning. The Prescriptive Approach, as it is used in the practice of medicine, would normally comprise of a team of doctors (experts) of different specializations needed to cure the patient. The patient and his family, in modern medicine, are also active participants in determining the course of action of treatments to be done. This is imperative because non-cooperation of the patient and his family cannot do it by themselves. There is a vital need for the objective expertise of the diagnostic team. The same principles are also recommended as part of the Prescriptive Approach to Development that we have been proposing for quite some time now.

We have been using the Prescriptive Approach in Mentoring start-up businesses since 1998, in the business school which I founded, the CIE Global Colleges. This came about because CIE has been using the Problem Based Learning (PBL) Pedagogy for quite some time now. PBL is also inspired by the way medical doctors are trained. As part of our outreach projects, we are using the PBL-Prescriptive Approach in coming up with a holistic development plan for Tabuelan, a small municipality in the northern part of Cebu.

In the Tabuelan Project, we sat down with community representatives to discuss and propose the people’s vision of Tabuelan. Based on what was discussed, we created a diagnostic team, composed of experts in different fields necessary to advise the Tabuelans as to their course of action to move them closer to their vision.

Now that the Pearl Principle National Movement has been established, we are have started to organize our qualified cell groups to form the initial Enterprise Development Centers (EDCs) all over the country. This, I believe, is one of the foremost reasons why so many are responding positively to the Pearl Principle National Movement. The role of EDCs is to provide the provinces with a diagnostic team for Prescriptive Intervention. The EDCs will be led by young- successful entrepreneurs and other experts- depending on the need of the area- who are willing to lend a helping hand to address the unique needs of the underserved Filipinos and bring about prosperity in the communities.

Here are the activities that the EDCs will engage in:

  • Encourage Entrepreneurship across the country
  • Advocacy and propaganda
  • Enterprise Development Training
  • Enlistment in SME Programs
  • SME Business Development
  • Social Entrepreneurship
  • Regular Enterprise
  • Management Support
  • Bring Investment to rural communities
  • Advocacy and propaganda
  • Venture Capital Roadshows
  • Trade Fairs in cooperation with other agencies and NGOs
  • Non-traditional Business Development and Incubation Center
We have an acronym for this strategy- T.E.A.C.H.:

Train to the tenets of the Pearl Principle for Peace and progress
Engage people for collective action
Assess collective strengths and weaknesses
Create opportunities from current problems
Hand-holding and advising

The Pearl Principle. Copyright Centre for International Education. All rights reserved.

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