A year with the Institute for Solidarity in Asia (ISA) is not complete without the conduct of the partner-favorite Governance Boot Camp, ISA’s best practice and leadership training program that gathers strategy, planning, and governance practitioners from all around the country. Having adjusted to the COVID-19 pandemic norms, this highly anticipated training program also migrated to the online platform. In lieu of the three or four-day stay-in setting, the 22nd Governance Boot Camp Basic Class was hosted through Zoom, with around 100 participants and guest speakers from hospitals, national government agencies, and local government units.

Becoming a different creature

The 22nd run consisted of morning sessions spread over four consecutive days starting November 24, 2020. Per Boot Camp tradition, participants—dubbed ‘Governance Warriors’—from each attending organization were shuffled into different groups for the duration of the program to maximize peer-to-peer learning and interactions. 

ISA’s PGS Practice Leader and Executive Director Mr. Chris P. Zaens also returned on the virtual stage to facilitate the modules centered on strategy design and execution. On the first day, Mr. Zaens tackled Strategy Fundamentals with the governance warriors. Here, he underscored the importance of a clear strategic position that breaks away from the present way of doing things in order to create a “demonstrably superior impact” compared to the current delivery of mandate.

“The core of the strategy,” said the Practice Leader “is a clear position that brings the firm to a much higher level that, when attained, makes the enterprise a different creature.”

This module was followed by a detailed discussion the next day on the different disciplines of execution. Mr. Zaens walked the participants through the five disciplines that help create a sound strategy design and ensure its effective execution. Part of these entail the differentiation between the core and strategic activities of the institution, as well as the active involvement of units in identifying their own contributions to the strategy.

“It is best that the roadmap is designed by the implementing unit itself. This way, you are acknowledging that they have the capacity and that they own the process,” advised the Practice Leader.

Finally, Mr. Zaens’s last module, Beyond Cascading, delved into the mechanism of Conversation, Feedback, and Recognition that institutions must have in place to secure the continued commitment of units and individuals to their contributions.

Room setups and themed getups

In between the discussion hours, the governance warriors also participated in multiple workshop and energizer activities to test and practice their knowledge about strategy and its implementation. Though most come to expect vigorous learning activities, many were also happily surprised by the balance between the comprehensive modules and the more interactive (and  competitive!) workshop activities that unfolded as they went along.

As an added element that is unique to the online setting, a handful of participants were also recognized and awarded for their noteworthy room setups and getups in line with the prescribed theme of each day.

A send-off to the governance warriors

On the last day, three invited keynote speakers sat down for a panel discussion to tackle the most asked-about elements when it comes to rolling out a strategy: the Office for Strategy Management (OSM), PGS Core Team, and Multi-sector Governance Council (MSGC) — also known as the PGS Movers. 

Ms. Noemi Jucar of the Provincial Government of La Union (PGLU) discussed best practices in establishing the OSM. By developing an OSM concept paper, PGLU was able to pass an ordinance to formally create the office and include its requirements in budget appropriations.

Meanwhile, Dr. Rene Francisco of Dr. Paulino J. Garcia Memorial Research and Medical Center tackled the unique role of the PGS Core Team, highlighting their unique role as “champions of the strategy” coming from each unit within the institution that gives strategic contributions.

Lastly, Mr. Mark Gabriel V. Solis of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office introduced the inner workings of the MSGC. He advised that members of the MSGC should represent the sectors that impact one’s organization and that are relevant to the fulfillment of the strategy. It also helps, according to Mr. Solis, to assign them to a specific active project to level up their role from just externally monitoring to directly contributing.

To cap off these discussions, ISA Trustee and Fellow Ms. Mary Jane Ortega delivered the last segment of the program on Building our Dream Philippines. As a send-off to the governance warriors, she reiterated that one must strengthen the individual to strengthen the institution, and beyond that—the nation.

“We want to have a Dream Philippines where there is enough for everyone, where no Filipino is left behind,” closed Ms. Ortega.

Officially ending the Boot Camp was the recitation of the National Solidarity Covenant by the attendees, where they pledged to trust in the creative energies of each person, to lead in change, and to help one another change, too. 

Thus, after four days of letting the strategy know-how seep in, this new batch of Boot Campers returned to their own bubbles, armed not only with the tools to run their governance vehicles but also the mindset to keep them going on this road to stronger, more responsive public institutions.