Friday, December 4, 2009

Your Vision of the Philippines

Most of the vision about our country we know of have come off the propaganda of politicians. A body of literary wish lists for their reign that only reflects that they want and not what the nation needs.

From the first Philippine Republic which reflected the agenda of the Illustrados, to the Commonwealth that clearly showed the stamp of the United States, the Philippine vision was dictated by personalities and the "special interest groups" that partake of the pie we call the Philippine economy. After, the Philippine Republic was supposedly independent, the political agenda of a president became the de facto vision of the country until the next national election introduces the nation to a new one.

It was always an incumbent president dictating the vision of our country. This actually means the Philippines has a new vision every three (3) years. Rather than uniting Filipinos, Philippine leaders are actually confusing Filipinos every three (3) years and spending resources and their personal energy convincing the nation it will work and that Filipinos should support it. For many generations, the Filipinos have experienced the rollercoaster of open hostility to these visions or silent disobedience to their implementation.

What is a vision? If somebody writes on the wall about their vision of the Philippines, how will it sound like? Understanding what a vision is requires that we know what it means. Let's start with its definition.

Wikipedia gives the meaning of vision like this:

"Vision: Defines the desired or intended future state of an organization or enterprise in terms of its fundamental objective and/or strategic direction. Vision is a long term view, sometimes describing a view of how the organization would like the world in which it operates to be. For example a charity working with the poor might have a vision statement which reads "A world without poverty".

Defining Vision

Another definition of vision comes from Oren Harari: "Vision should describe a set of ideals and priorities, a picture of the future, a sense of what makes the company special and unique, a core set of principles that the company stands for, and a broad set of compelling criteria that will help define organizational success." (National Defense University)

Harari is a professor at the Graduate School of Business in the University of San Francisco. He teaches strategic and global management to MBA and executive MBA students.

By this definition, it is obvious that the meaning of vision is framed in the context of organizational development. Most definitions of vision you will find will be within the framework of organizational development simply because most research on the subject were done and advocated by management practitioners and management educators. There will be more lectures on the subject applied to business organizations than applied to the development of a country. For purposes of creating analogy with defining vision for national development, this definition for now should suffice. For further clarity, additional definitions should be explored. Burt Nanus is a well-known expert on the subject and provides a more operative definition of vision for organizations and for countries pursuing national development agenda.

Burt Nanus' management theory focuses on the leadership requirements for non-profits. According to Nanus in his book "Guide to Management Theory", a vision must be realistic, credible, attractive and in the future:

  • "Realistic: A vision must be based in reality to be meaningful for an organization."
  • "Credible: A vision must be believable to be relevant."
  • "Attractive: If a vision is going to inspire and motivate those in the organization, it must be attractive."
  • "Future: A vision is not in the present, it is in the future."

From an article published in the National Defense University: Nanus' concept of a vision being realistic, credible, and attractive future for an organization, can accomplish a number of things for the organization:

  • "It attracts commitment and energizes people. This is one of the primary reasons for having a vision for an organization: its motivational effect. When people can see that the organization is committed to a vision-and that entails more than just having a vision statement-it generates enthusiasm about the course the organization intends to follow, and increases the commitment of people to work toward achieving that vision."
  • "It creates meaning in workers' lives. A vision allows people to feel like they are part of a greater whole, and hence provides meaning for their work. The right vision will mean something to everyone in the organization if they can see how what they do contributes to that vision."
  • "It establishes a standard of excellence. A vision serves a very important function in establishing a standard of excellence. In fact, a good vision is all about excellence."
  • "It bridges the present and the future. The right vision takes the organization out of the present, and focuses it on the future. It's easy to get caught up in the crises of the day, and to lose sight of where you were heading. A good vision can orient you on the future, and provide positive direction."

Once you have a true grasp of what vision is all about, the most obvious next step is to know how to create a vision for an organization and in this case for a country.

Guidelines to Creating a Vision

Nanus suggests several guidelines for creating a realistic, credible, attractive future for an organization:

  • "A good vision is a mental model of a future state."
  • "A good vision is idealistic."
  • "A good vision is appropriate for the organization (or country) and for the times."
  • "A good vision sets standards of excellence and reflects high ideals."
  • "A good vision clarifies purpose and direction."
  • "A good vision inspires enthusiasm and encourages commitment."
  • "A good vision is well articulated and easily understood."
  • "A good vision reflects the uniqueness of the organization, its distinctive competence, what it stands for, and what it is able to achieve."
  • "A good vision is ambitious."

Once you understand how a vision is created, how do you go about starting the process of actually making a vision? Nanus also sugguests a process, a seven step process in fact to creating a vision.

The Seven-step Process for Formulating a Vision:

Nanus describes a seven-step process for formulating a vision, as follows:

  1. "Understand the organization."

    The organization in this case is the Philippines. The first step in creating a vision is understanding the Philippines, its government and its people (the Philippine nation). Filipinos must know and understand how our government works, how the economy works, and the dynamics of a multi-cultural nation dispersed in more than 1,700 islands. Relevant links about government, about the Philippine economy, and Philippine politics are found at the bottom of this post to get you started in understanding the Philippines in the eyes of foreign governments and international organizations. What will it take for the Filipinos to get from now to where they want to go? Who should be participating in the process of creating the vision and formulating the strategy to accomplish the vision? What will be the expectations of all those participating and contributing to the process?


  2. "Conduct a vision audit."

    Supposedly this step involves assessing the current direction of the Philippines and its momentum. Since we do not have a clear direction or vision, the country or its leaders must articulate clearly in a unified voice (Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches) the current direction of the country. The executive, legislative and the judicial branches of government must show both in their policies, statements and programmes how the country will go from its existing state to the desired state. Is the structure of government designed to pursue the vision? Will the laws and policies support the initiatives or programmes of the government? Are there legitimate processes for the different stakeholders to participate contribute to the formulation of strategy and in implementing it? Does the Philippine government have the people, incentives, resources and information systems to support the direction it is taking?


  3. "Target the vision."

    The Philippines as a country must narrow in its vision. Key questions must be answered such as, what will be the constraints to the vision? What must the Philippine vision accomplish? What critical issues (corruption, poverty, illiteracy, health, etc.) must the Philippine vision address?

  4. "Set the vision context."

    This is where the formulation of the Philippine vision becomes difficult. The vision is the desirable future for the Philippines. Filipinos must make an approximation or estimate of how the Philippines will look like in the future. First, Filipinos must categorize future developments in the Philippine environment that might affect the Philippine vision. Next is to list down the Filipinos' expectations under each category. Third, determine which of those expectations in the list will most likely happen. Last, assign a probability of occurrence to each of the expectations.

  5. "Develop future scenarios."

    Having determined expectations most likely to occur and those with the most impact on the vision, you are to combine these to create scenarios showing the range of possible futures. These scenarios are to be the alternative "futures" that we anticipate will be the environment under which the Philippines will operate within.


  6. "Generate alternative visions."

    Just as there are alternative scenarios (futures) there are also alternative directions that can be taken by the Filipinos in the future. "Do not evaluate these possible visions at this point but use a relatively unconstrained approach" according to Nanus.


  7. "Choose the final vision."

    This is the step where you are suppose to select the best possible vision. According to Nanus:'To do this, first look at the properties of a good vision, and what it takes for a vision to succeed, including consistency with the the culture and values. Next, compare the visions you've generated with the alternative scenarios, and determine which of the possible visions will apply to the broadest range of scenarios." The final version of the vision must:

    • meet the criteria of a good vision
    • be compatible with the Filipino culture and values
    • applies to a broad range of alternative scenarios (or possible futures)

With the above guide for creating a vision, anyone who wants a better future for the Philippines can attempt to frame a vision for the country.

A good example of a vision is the one created by Singapore and express in a speech by the country's Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong. The speech was entitled "A Learning Nation, A Thinking Nation" as Singapore's "Vision for a New Era - Singapore 21".

Are you ready to participate in creating a vision for the Philippines?

If you are ready, please complete a Survey Form. Click to open the online form.


References:

"Strategic Leadership and Decision Making"
National Defense University
http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/ndu/strat-ldr-dm/pt4ch18.html

"The Way to Become"
The Filipino Ideology
http://filipinoideology.blogspot.com/2008/01/way-to-become.html

"Vision"
Wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strategic_planning

"Life-and-Times of Oren Harari"
Oren Harari
http://www.harari.com/

"Guide to Management Theory of Burt Nanus"
Nanus's Management Theory for Nonprofits
By Geraldine McGowan
Business.com
http://www.business.com/directory/management/management_theory/management_theorists/nanus,_burt/

"A Learning Nation, A Thinking Nation"
Singapore 21: Vision for a New Era
Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong
Excerpt from a speech made in Parliament, June 5, 1998
http://www.nlb.gov.sg/annualreport/fy97/htm/vision.htm

Get to know the Philippines in the eyes of foreign governments and international organizations.

"Country Profile: The Philippines"
BBC News
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/country_profiles/1262783.stm

"Profile of the Philippines"
AsianInfo.Org
http://www.asianinfo.org/asianinfo/profiles/philippines.htm

"Philippines"
InfoPlease
http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0107887.html

"Philippines"
NationsOnline: Countries of the World
http://www.nationsonline.org/oneworld/philippines.htm

"Country Profile: Philippines"
Foreign & Commonwealth Office - United Kingdom
http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travel-and-living-abroad/travel-advice-by-country/country-profile/asia-oceania/philippines/

"The World Factbook: Philippines"
Central Intelligence Agency
https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/rp.html

"Philippines"
National Geographic
http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/places/countries/country_philippines.html

"Philippines Economic Profile"
EconomyWatch
http://www.economywatch.com/world_economy/philippines/

"Background Note: Philippines"
U.S. Department of State
http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2794.htm

"Philippines: Country Profile"
National Implementation of Agenda 21
United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development
http://www.un.org/esa/earthsummit/pilip-cp.htm

Republic of the Philippines
Official Web Portal of the Government of the Philippines
http://www.gov.ph/

Know how your local government works through Republic Act No. 7160.

Republic Act No. 7160 (PDF)
Philippine Export Processing Authority
http://environment.peza.gov.ph/getfile.php?fileid=28

The Local Government Code of the Philippines (Republic Act No. 7160
The Chan Robles Virtual Law Library
http://www.chanrobles.com/localgov.htm

History of Section 119 of Republic Act No. 7160:
House of Representatives
http://www.congress.gov.ph/download/researches/rrb_0307_5.PDF

"Politics of the Philippines"
Wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics_of_the_Philippines

8 comments:

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