With most of the public sector’s efforts focused on responding to the COVID-19 crisis, it has become a struggle to find the right balance between mitigating the effects of the crisis while continuing the organization’s pursuit of the strategy. New dimensions and questions on strategy management have emerged and these are what the Skills Lab on PGS Strategy Review tackled last August 4 and 5, 2020.

No template for pandemic response

This two-day online lecture was facilitated by Institute for Solidarity in Asia’s in-house Performance Governance System (PGS) Practice Leader, Mr. Christian Zaens. He began the course with a thoughtful situationer about the difficulty of finding a good framework for responding to a pandemic.

“Our response to the pandemic doesn’t have a template,” said the PGS expert. “The science for responding to the pandemic is still evolving. [Thus] the execution of our strategy during the pandemic is [also] not templated.”

Given that, he reminded the participants that this course, in the end, encourages them to identify their unique scenarios and respond accordingly. These tools for strategy review, per Mr. Zaens, were meant to establish the facts of the organization’s situation. These facts are then to be used by the leadership team.

“Once you have the facts, it’s easier now to get to higher level questions that can foster learning. Strategy Review must facilitate learning, not control,” advised Mr. Zaens.

Strategies re-examined

In between the modules, three PGS partners presented their own strategy review experiences as prompted by the pandemic situation.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) talked of their challenges in mitigating the massive effects of the pandemic on the socio-economic lives of Filipinos, whose need for Social Protection programs have been amplified. With varying community quarantine guidelines, DSWD also faced an increase in the number of Locally Stranded Individuals and stranded Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW). As a result, their COVID-19 response plan has been their interim strategy.

From the health sector, Mr. Romeo Tuazon, Jr., Office for Strategy Management Head for Bataan General Hospital and Medical Center (BGHMC), narrated how some of their deliverables relating to multi-speciality services were fast tracked due to the pandemic. Similar to DSWD, their pandemic response plan became the enterprise strategy in the interim as they responded to the crisis from the frontliners.

Meanwhile, for the Provincial Government of La Union (PGLU), whose strategy has been anchored on the heavily affected agri-tourism, the pursuit of the strategy continues though with the introduction of some innovations. PGLU maintains that their direction is still relevant to achieve economic development.

PGS and the pandemic

On the second day of the Skills Lab, Ms. Guia Luistro, Head of ISA’s Program Management Unit, delivered a module on advancing the PGS during the pandemic.

In it, she first highlighted aspects of the PGS that turned out to be highly useful for institutions now in their COVID-19 response. This includes the Multi-sectoral Governance Councils (MSGC) from which many donations of essential supplies were sourced.

On changes in strategy and progress reports, Ms. Luistro emphasized the need for proper documentation that effectively captured the reboots, delays, and new success indicators in light of the pandemic situation.

She advised delegates to demonstrate how the PGS, with all its principles and elements, was adapted to reflect the realities on the ground and used, not only to manage pandemic response, but also bring about quick wins.

This, ultimately, is the spirit behind the governance program.