A Blog for Philippine Development and Competitiveness

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Government Bureaucracy Should Practice Quality

Where does Government start with the "Quality of service" Program ?

It should start with people. Not hardware nor software but "humanware".

Again let me quote a French anthropologist named Levi-Strauss :

" In order to produce better systems, a society should be less concerned with producing material goods in increasing quantities than with producing people of a better quality--in other words, (human) beings capable of producing these systems."

In short, as Masaaki Imai said, an organization that is able to build quality into its people is already halfway toward producing quality products or services".

A few other important quality principles should be included in the education and training (aside from the Fourteen Points) of people in government.Before they even start improving systems or processes, they should know these vital principles which they should come equipped to use in their jobs :

1. 85-15 Rule or the Pareto Principle.

2. Know Thy Customer

3. The PDCA Cycle ( Plan, Do, Check, Act)

4. In God we trust ; All others must use DATA. Do it with data.

5. Decisions must be based on facts. Speak with data.

6. The people who know the work best are the ones who perform it.

7. Groups of people working in teams can have more success than individuals working alone. Teams need to be trained in a structured problem-solving process.

8. Know the use of the 7 Statistical Tools of Quality.

It is said that to solve a huge problem, one should break it down into small components and start solving the tiny manageable components first. The steps for Process Improvement or problem- solving are outlined below (source : Deming Management at Work - M. Walton) :

select a process to improve
Organize a team that knows the process
Clarify current knowledge of the process
Understand causes of Process Variation
Select the Process Improvement
Plan the Improvement and continue data collection
Do the improvement, data collection and analysis
Check the results and lessons learned from the team effort
Act to hold the gain and to continue to improve the process.

There is always the danger that managers, department heads or cabinet secretaries for that matter will delegate these important tasks to their quality professionals or departments and go on with business as usual or "ningas cogon" treatment. This is a BIG COP-OUT and if these guys should get caught giving important responsibilities mere lip service, they should be sanctioned or even replaced with the more deeply committed and serious professionals or public servants.
It will probably take 10 years of iron discipline to get the Philippine government bureaucracy to adopt the Quality culture. But we have to start now.

Philippines : How to get things done

An article in Newsweek in 19 January 2009 titled "WHY CHINA WORKS" reads in parts as follows :

"Once Chinese leaders signal a new direction, they rarely waver....The leadership's faith in its own ability to mold markets may derive from the fact that most are engineers, trained to build from a plan. Eight out of the nine top party officials come from engineering backgrounds..The ruling engineers preside over a system that is highly process-oriented and obsessed with performance metrics."

"Leaders who don't meet internal performance standards are, more often than not, held accountable, and do get sacked, which is still unusual in many developing economies."

"A command and control system run by relatively skilled technocrats allows China to get things done quickly. Experts are struck by the ability of the Chinese state to move in a coherent manner and to marshal its people and the resources of the country to a common target.

In the Philippines, lawyers more often than not, dominate the political and government landscape. I have nothing against the profession but the results are quite easy to discern when Philippine competitiveness is measured to be lagging in the global competitiveness index.
Former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew in his Memoir described what he observed about what was lacking about the Philippines in the 50's which remain eerily relevant today : "Something was missing, a gel to hold society together. People at the top, the elite mestizos, had the same detached attitude to the native peasants as the mestizos in their haciendas in latin America had towards their peons. They were two different societies: those at the top lived a life of extreme luxury and comfort while the peasants scraped a living, and in the Philippines it was a hard living. They had many children because the church discouraged birth control. The result was increasing poverty.

Mr. Lee goes on to say that the culture of the Filipino is a "soft and forgiving" culture which allows former leaders removed by people power, to return and engage in politics.