Submitted for the Design Thinking For Innovation Course
University of Virginia
Darden School of Business
July 8, 2019
CHALLENGE: Information and communications technology (ICT) have transformed economies all over the world. As early as the seventies, the Philippines business ecosystems road the wave of opportunities that came with the ICT. Government pave the way for stronger telecommunications infrastructure by dismantling the long – standing monopoly and opened the telecommunications industry to other players. ICT allowed businesses to transcend locational challenges such as need for innovation, high cost of labor and utilities, lack of quality or available workforce, political and social risks and many other challenges. ICT allowed companies to avail of services and products outside of its business structure, commonly known as outsourcing, and today most comprehensively referred to as global services.
As the Philippines moved further in creating jobs and opportunities in the ICT industry, the pattern became apparent – that these investments were only concentrated in the metropolis, particularly in Metro Manila, and not in the outlying provinces of the country.
The challenge for me along with all the stakeholders in different cities is to improve the socio-economic conditions of the countryside where unemployment rate is very high, taking advantage of the growing number of jobs in the ICT industry. These issues have not been effectively addressed since the Philippines undertook an aggressive campaign to attract foreign investors in the ICT industry since 2004, yet stakeholders in the countryside, mainly cities outside of Metro Manila began to develop strategies to attract foreign investments.
ICT investment promotions had been concentrated in metropolitan cities, and leaving the countryside to piece-meal strategies that do not consistently give them sustainable programs to conduct foreign trade mission and investment promotions. Selected cities, from time to time, are invited to join trade mission but on a case-to-case basis. No concerted efforts have been devoted to developing countryside investment packages design to attract foreign investors to locate outside of Metropolitan cities.
Seventy percent of the Filipino populace reside outside of Metro Manila hence the need to address the challenge of for attracting jobs and investments in the countryside.
SELECTION: To address the challenge of creating jobs and investments in the countryside, I had to gather all the stakeholders to make it happen. I used visualization as tool to create a platform for the vision to be achieved.
There has to be a set of key drivers to push the vision to reality and stakeholders must visualize their respective roles in the whole picture.
As a first step, various stakeholders were gathered based on their respective mandates to understand the general ICT roadmap of the Philippines which details the vision and initiatives needed in order to achieve these goals.
I started with one city, my own city – Bacolod, located in the Province of Negros Occidental, Western Visayas Region. Upon my initiative as local leader, stakeholders were able to come together in several sessions creating and sharing ideas to address the needs in order to scale up Bacolod as an investment hub.
Eventually, the stakeholders designed the ICT Council as a platform to be a collective effort of the academe and human resource development, real estate and business and local governments to undertake projects and programs complementary to the vision of making Bacolod City and Negros Occidental as viable locations for ICT and business process outsourcing (BPO) services. It assisted local government units and the national government especially in designing programs that will complement the educational system and integrate ICT therein to produce a more competent and job-ready workforce.
It aims to establish and institutionalize a strong network and various linkages with all academic, formal and non-formal, technical and vocational training institutions in Bacolod and Negros Occidental in order to formulate, consolidate and implements strategies and programs that will address the challenges and gaps identified in the ICT sector.
The ICT Council also regularly helps to develop a comprehensive plan on a provincial basis in order to yield a more accurate picture of the workforce and a rationalized program of infrastructure and human resource build-up based on strengths, encourage synergy among the sectors involved in developing government support, business environment and talent development, in order avoid duplication of efforts, minimize competition among local government units, and maximize resources to better prepare the province and the region to become competitive globally.
As a result, Bacolod was named as one of the Centers of Excellence in ICT in the country, and more than 30,000 new jobs were created for Bacolod and Negros Occidental. Today, there is an estimated 30,000 direct IT-BPM jobs in Bacolod. The ICT Council of Bacolod today has become a role model for other cities, and has been instrumental in inspiring and helping various cities and provinces in the Philippines to create their ICT councils or to strengthen their existing councils by encouraging the adoption four-fold underlying principles:
Government is a catalyst of all stakeholders and must initiate and encourage all key sectors to set and join in pursuing a direction
The private sector must actively support the government by providing resources to improve the business ecosystem, provide the real estate and telecommunications infrastructure.
The academe must continuously link with the industry to ensure relevant education
All three sectors must work together to pursue competitiveness and readiness in ICT using the multi-stakeholder approach and has embraced the principle of collaboration among the local government and national government agencies with the academe and industry.
The ICT Council model is now recognized in various fora as an organizational model that brings together movers and key decision makers from the public or government sector (local or national line agencies), academe and human resource, and private or business and industry sector. The idea is to provide a platform to set directions to position their respective communities as strategic locations for ICT-enabled jobs and investments
APPLICATION: To create the ICT council, stakeholders were gathered to create a common vision, identify challenges and weaknesses, discover and understand weaknesses and potentials and eventually develop strategies to answer the weaknesses.
First, the stakeholders are made to understand their roles and mandates as individuals belonging to various institutions, understanding the core values of their organizations as well as their limitations. Then the stakeholders are requested to identify and extract their common vision for their cities through interaction.
The three major stakeholders were identified as government, academe and private sector, each playing a specific role to complement the vision. The role of the government was to catalyze the stakeholders and bring them together, provide for enabling policies and resources and set the direction. The role of the academe is to ensure quantity, quality and scalability of talent supply. The role of the private sector is to provide capital, economic guidance and impetus to the efforts of the two other sectors by creating business models, jobs and opportunities aligned with the ICT sector.
Using the diagrams, the stakeholders identified six key thrusts to focus on based on the general roadmap.
INSIGHT: The stakeholders, by visualizing their goal through the use of interaction, discussion, posting in the board colored notes in the board for everyone to see how all the pieces fall into place, have collated the bigger picture. Using diagrams and matrix, with the aid colored sticky notes, the stakeholders grouped together according to their sector and discussed the strategies. The groups discussed the baseline data – “what is” what is the current situation, the existing policies and resources, in order to develop relevant and responsive strategies. They eventually tackled “what if” to develop the vision and direction, such as number of jobs attainable. Then moved to programs that are new and innovative, in response to the question “what wows”. After a series of meetings, the groups developed their vision, goals, objectives and strategies based on major areas such as talent development, business environment, cost and infrastructure and digital innovation.
Eventually, the stakeholders realized that the ICT council model can serve as a platform for collaboration to achieve a common goal, a venue to share best practices for ideation and replication, a driver for innovation, a medium for collective expression to achieve results and a tool to empower stakeholders
Stakeholders saw the need to make the ICT council a platform for collaboration to achieve a common goal among government, education, industry, private and business sector. They identified the need to be open, friendly, innovative, aggressive, dynamic, risk-taking in their approaches to achieve the vision. For example, the key decision makers arrived at a conclusion that there needs to be a roadmap every 3 to 6 years for the ICT Council to push and manage.
Academe, human resource and talent development stakeholders were inspired to be more innovative, inclusive and collaborative in their educational approaches to facilitate industry – academe collaboration. Local government became more supportive, innovative, catalyst, pro-active, goal-oriented, and people-centric. The national government agencies which had presence in the city embraced their role as target-setting, accessible, guiding and supportive along with the local media, to drive awareness.
As a tool to empower stakeholders, the ICT Council developed programs to empower and train ICT council members and equip different sectors needing digital skills to qualify for ICT jobs. The ICT Council helped the city government harness public resources for greater use such as in job generation, investment promotions and conduct orientation of different stakeholders to understand their roles
The stakeholders were able to identify the basic criteria for a city to generate ICT jobs and opportunities. These are talent (quantity, quality, scalability), business environment and risk management (natural, political, social risks), infrastructure and telecommunications, cost of doing business to include tax incentives, non-fiscal incentives that translate to savings on business cost and digital innovation.
The ICT Council has become a venue to share best practices for ideation and replication especially for talent development strategies, startup incubators and shared service facilities, resource mobilization, benchmarking activities and learning conferences.
As a driver for innovation, the ICT Council identified the need to help public sector implement eGovernance, new technologies and new skills (ai, data analytics, IOT, cybersecurity), hybrid or shared service facilities, and new business models (homegrown companies or startups, shared service facilities, incubators).
As medium for collective expression to achieve results, the ICT Council came up with unified position on need to grant tax incentives, improve connectivity, and grant more scholarships for ICT. The ICT Council leveraged on collaboration to access more support, equipment and facilities. It also helped and assisted investors and entrepreneurs by championing their concerns and set avenues to air out collective stand on various issues such as peace and order situation, lack of trainings and many others.
APPROACH: For other sessions in developing the ICT Council model for other cities, new insights on new technologies can be shared through effective storytelling as a tool in design thinking to ensure more stakeholders’ engagement and involvement. Stories of successes of other ICT councils can inspire stakeholders of other cities to develop their own. Another way to scale up participation and reduce the period of time to come up with strategies is learning launch, to provide a platform for ICT councils to experiment new ideas such creating incubators for startups.
In future sessions, stakeholders need more input to develop strategies and hence it is important that the presence of other stakeholders who hold the necessary data for validation must be obtained.
In a faraway kingdom of Pandemonia in the Land of the Idiots, King Moron was left to think on his own. The following is his monologue.
I know now I should have started these things before the pandemic
I know now that shortening the time to do things is more efficient and cost-effective than doing it in for a longer period even if it means there is a add-on cost to that efficiency
I know now that many things can still be achieved, and achieved better, even when I get rid of manual or face to face system
I know now that many objectives and deadlines can still be met even on a zero physical contact basis
I know now that investment in improving my digital skills at least the basic level like operating a computer or mobile gadget) will eventually pay off and eventually become a matter of survival
I know now that investing in building intermediate and advanced digital skills could mean finding me a job of higher value and even of greater value when my manual job or my business is destroyed by the pandemic
I know now that I should have gradually installed digital transformation in my company, even just for simple payroll and personnel management, virtual conferences and digital marketing
I know now that as a government leader, I should have a long time ago installed digital innovation to ensure ease of doing business and zero contact prolicy and created a data base to ensure updated and proper profiling
I know now that aside from simply importing medicine and giving lip service to healthcare, we could have invested in manufacturing of medicines and research laboratories, and in health sciences to create vaccines and treatments
I know now that as a school, a hospital or an institution many of our services can be migrated to virtual format so we can still serve our core vision and mission
I know now that industries need to innovate and apply technology to increase production or yield like agriculture and manufacturing
I know now that accurate and real time data can help make sound policy decisions instead of guesswork and impulse
I know now that innovation can bridge communities, people and families in a timely manner, and the world come become smaller because we can share our ideas, aspirations and culture with everyone
I know what innovation means now. Its simply thinking out of the box to look for ways to do things faster, and more efficient because time is precious.
Sadly I know it only now that time became equivalent to life. The life threatened by waste of days to deliver healthcare, amelioration, real-time information.
I only know now that innovation can save lives.
But when I heard about innovation before – I thought of it as – – an additional expense – simply just a fad – something we need to fear because we don’t know about – something only tech-savvy people know about – nothing of value that we need to learn about – a burden to my comfort zone – something that will simply make me vulnerable to the public – of no consequence in my present because the future will take care of itself – something a naive politician will say instead of simply buying our votes – something voters won’t understand so I would rather give doleouts
The list of my reasons are long. Because I don’t know.
After this pandemic is over, there is a tendency I will not know again. I know.
Then King Moron retired to his chambers to rest. Another day is over in the Kindgdom of Pandemonia.
Disclaimer: All characters in this book are fictional and not real. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
One day, in a faraway Kingdom of Pandemonia in the Land of Idiots – there was a great pandemic which needed a massive quarantine of all people. King Moron assembled his leaders.
Leader 1: Let’s wait for orders. We cannot act without orders.
Leader 2: Let’s alarm people. They need to know. This is something big.
Leader 3: Let’s inventory all our resources from food to healthcare supplies so we can prepare. Let’s ensure we protect our doctors and nurses.
Leader 4: Let’s make sure we are safe. I am going home to prepare my family.
Leader 5: Let’s make sure all key agencies are coordinate.
Leader 6: Let’s create solutions to ensure the orders are curated and blasted real time in readable formats. Let’s also give more information to people so they panic less and know what to do instead of assume things. Let’s create solutions to track our resources real time and connect with requests so we know how much is left and how much we need every minute. Let’s harness systems to lessen exposure of our frontliners to the virus like telehealth and other solutions. Let’s create solutions to connect us with our families and communities so we can keep and eye on everyone and know who needs immediate medical care and isolation. Let’s make solutions to ensure all agencies data are interoperable so a citizen just asks one portal and not go to all agencies for each single item of assistance.
Leader 1: You might violate rules. Don’t do anything of that sort. Stick to what we follow now.
Leader 2: No, I am now going to post on Facebook whatever I want to post just to alarm people. I am well versed with social media.
Leader 3: Sorry, our manual system is more reliable. It maybe slow but its what we re used to.
Leader 4: What???? What is that gibberish?
Leader 5: That will take a long time. Agencies will surely flag down those ideas. And besides, our citizens are scared of using digital solutions.
Leader 6: I was just concerned for all of you.
Then Leader 6 went on auto-pilot mode. Thanks to some citizen innovators who created it- at least the AI Leader got to suggest.
Post script: Unlike in the TikTok Republic above, in the Philippines there are many Filipinos who are like Leader 6. Not an AI but real human beings. Sadly they are not leaders.
Disclaimer: All characters in this book are fictional. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental
“Show your work because you will never know who will like it.” I recently learned this from a young Bacolodnon designer whose works are sought after by big brands. Indeed, it’s time I highlight my designs. The things I have created as part of my different roles.
In most of my projects, I have always used my own designs. During my last two years as City Councilor for Bacolod, from 2014 to 2016, I chaired the Committee on Tourism and enjoyed producing materials for Bacolod. Here are some of them.
This was my version, using young artist Daryl Jimenea’s rendition of the Bacolod Masskara. Eventually he improved the MICE pictures for me as shown below.
When we hosted APEC meetings, I was assigned to head the Tours and Souvenirs Committee and was advised by DOT to create a story for the free tour and the give-ways. This was the story I presented for the “tour” for executive delegates. We needed to factor in the time-frame of the tour.
We also had to prepare “paid tours” and I designed a Bacolod “baggage”. Along with a presentation featuring the different prices of our tour packages made by our travel and tours organizations in Bacolod.
For the souvenirs, I created the story entitled “Tam-is”. Here is the story-line. We needed to factor in the requirements of DOT as to what types of souvenirs can be given to international delegates. We were also working on a very limited budget.
In all these designs, I develop the concept in consultation with stakeholders. Then I also compose the words, the flow and the images. The pictures that are not mine, I ask permission for or otherwise get pictures from government sites.
I really enjoyed putting words and objects to animate my ideas. Work was difficult but it gave me a chance to create show my artistry and writing skill.
Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.