Following the success of its first virtual Boot Camp in 2020, the Institute for Solidarity in Asia (ISA) held its 23rd Governance Boot Camp Basic Class last April 27 to 30, 2021. The partner-favorite training program gathered 88 delegates from 43 organizations comprising the health sector, local government units, and national government agencies. Hosted through Zoom, the four-day program consisted of modules that focus on the fundamental concepts of the Performance Governance System (PGS) and governance best practice sharing.

To kick off the first day of the program, ISA PGS Practice Leader and Executive Director, Mr. Chris P. Zaens acknowledged this year’s governance warriors and recounted the significance of the program since migrating to the virtual space last year.

“In these 23 Boot Camps, what is evident is there are no two Boot Camps alike. The PGS is founded on co-creation,” he said. “What we do [to the content of Boot Camps] is filter all of those practices that have worked for organizations and share it with everybody. And that is what you’ll see in this Boot Camp.”

He then discussed the first module on Strategy Fundamentals, where the delegates learned the core components of designing a strategy and how to differentiate operational effectiveness from strategic positioning. Mr. Zaens said that one way to check the articulation of a strategic position is the presence of new offerings, new users, and new delivery models. This was followed by a workshop where the delegates identified the strategic position of two sample entities and learned that a well-designed strategy aims for a breakthrough.

On the second day of the program, Mr. Zaens discussed the five disciplines under his module on Disciplined Execution, namely depth, breadth, subsidiary, engagement, and accountability. To help the delegates check the strategic quality of their institutions, he introduced the Sniff Test, an exercise suggesting that if the opposite of your strategic choices are “stupid”, then your choices are merely “non-stupid” choices and not a good strategy at all.

“You can avoid falling into statements like these if we articulate our choices in relation to your position. Avoid generic motherhood non-stupid choices,” Mr. Zaens said.

This was followed by the last module, Beyond Cascading, where Mr. Zaens walked the delegates through the processes that an Office for Strategy Management (OSM) must lead and mechanisms that help clarify the roles of an institution’s leadership team. To end the discussion, he summarized the key takeaways from the three days of learning about the fundamental concepts of the PGS.

“On Day 1, we said that the strategy must aim for breakthrough, meaning a clear position that we must show. That’s the starting point of the journey. And then we said that must be implemented among everybody in the organization. Lastly is the oil, a lubricant that makes these gears work,” he said. “What the PGS offers is to be part of a community whose heart is in the right place. It is a whole advocacy that puts Juan and Juana dela Cruz front and center.”

The delegates were all ears during the last day of the program to the PGS journey stories of the speakers who play key roles in their organizations namely the Office for Strategy Management (OSM), the PGS Core Team, and the Multi-Sector Governance Council (MSGC).

Mr. Romeo Tuazon of the Batangas General Hospital and Medical Center highlighted the proactive approach of its OSM in the delivery of its functions, through actively monitoring employee progress and creating empowerment among units with awards and recognitions.

Meanwhile, Dr. Rene Francisco of the Dr. Paulino J. Garcia Memorial Research and Medical Center (PJG) discussed the difference between the members of the OSM and the PGS core team, identifying the former as the guardians of the strategy and the latter as the strategy champions. He then shared the COVID-19 efforts of the PGS Core team, including the PJG Telehealth, a system that aims to provide online consultation to patients amid the health crisis.

Ultimately, Mr. Mark Gabriel Solis of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office underscored the role of the MSGC as committed shepherds, collaborative partners, and ambassadors of good governance.

To end the 23rd run of the Boot Camp, ISA Trustee Atty. Alex Lacson led the last segment on Building our Dream Philippines, where he discussed the concept of good governance and how the efforts of the PGS practitioners have contributed to nation-building. He ended the discussion by reminding the governance warriors that achieving our Dream Philippines is not, after all, an impossible task.

“The solution to our many problems is not rocket science. The truth is the solution to many of our problems is already within us. It is in our hearts. Love, as expressed in kindness, compassion, generosity, integrity, fairness, justice, patriotism, dedication, and excellence in public service, is the answer to all of our problems,” he said. 

“Let us fight very hard to make our Dream Philippines come true and make the Filipinos get the respect that it truly deserves in the eyes of the world.”