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Friday, July 02, 2010

Change Management in New Philippine Government


In view of the inaugural speech delivered by President Aquino, I propose that the whole government look into adopting a change management mechanism.

Am I veering away from my usual topics again? I don't think so, because we are talking about running an organization here. We can all agree that the government is an organization run by people. Contrary to typical views, I believe that governmental organizations and private organizations are more similar than different. In fact, I believe it's the different handling of it that's causing us all these problems. If we can make the government as accountable for results as the people running private organizations are, we'll see more useful changes.

Every so often, we Filipinos are treated to campaign promises, embellishments of "accomplishments" and some generalized vision that in the end make us realize they are all empty rhetoric and promises. We've had so much, no, too much of it that we as a people become even less committed to change as the government is.

The changes being envisioned by the newly elected President if they are pushed will cause some great deal of discomfort to a lot of people. I can already foresee the very people who are ranting about the lack of changes to be the same people who will complain about the them.

The government is a large organization. We all know that the larger the organization is, the more difficult it is to institute change. This government needs to recognize this fact and take action by establishing mechanism for planning, effecting, evaluating and improving all the promised changes in government practice. The one thing that comes to my mind is the establishment of a commission with a presidential mandate who will make all the government agencies accountable for initiating and institutionalizing change. This same commission should regularly submit a report to the people (after all, the President said we are the boss) so we know how changes are happening and know how we should respond. This commission should also look into effective implementation of change so as to minimize discomfort. I've seen some very well meaning government officials lost the last election because of their failure to manage the change. For example, one local government official, in her bid to stop environmental destruction, displaced a lot of people which left them with little or no alternative, not to mention angry. Change have to be managed and there has to be a mechanism for it.

You might think that it is very convenient for me to just throw the responsibility to the government. Or you may say that the president or the government can't do it alone without the people also committing to change. Having grown and lived in the slums of brgy commonwealth and Payatas most of my life, I can say with conviction that I believe the Filipino masses will not do it on their own because of most us don't know how to. We have to be led out of the muck we are in.

This country has not had a leader who will capture our imagination and inspire us to change for ages. We've had some promising ones but they ran their campaign as if they don't want to win so some competencies are missing. This is of course not to say that this President has everything, but I believe that if he plays his cards right, he can lead our people out of mediocrity and into the first world. If he wants all his promises fulfilled, he has to manage the changes.

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