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7 habits of highly effective public-sector proponents

7 habits of highly effective public-sector proponents

HOW can we apply Stephen  R. Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People in public-private partnerships (PPPs)? Why should public-sector proponents or implementing agencies (IAs), desiring to be involved or are already involved in PPPs, adopt the seven habits?

This columnist was reminded about the seven habits as he was about to give a briefing on PPPs to professionals enrolled in the Sixth Diploma Program in Corporate Finance organized by the Ateneo Center for Continuing Education. This is his attempt to apply the seven  habits of highly effective people to organizations, particularly, IAs involved in PPPs.

Habit 1: Be proactive. PPPs involve choices and even the choice of PPP among other development strategies entails the exercise of freedom and discretion. Proactive IAs are accountable and responsible for decisions they make and their responses to the needs of the people, even for their inaction. Pursuing a monorail project through a PPP based on a needs assessment shows proactivity.

Habit 2: Begin with the end in mind. The destination of all PPP projects is better quality of life for all Filipinos. The purpose of a PPP project is to complete the project and to operate it. Reclaiming land for an airport and seaport starts with a vision, a plan and a mental creation.

Habit 3: Put first things first. The plan should not remain a “PPP”—a PowerPoint presentation. Mental creation, per Covey, must be followed by physical creation. A road map is needed to set in motion what has been created in the mind. A water project starts with a concept and should end with water inside our homes.

Habit 4: Think win/win. PPPs are all about interdependence. The government cannot, on its own, undertake all projects that the people need. To be viable and sustainable, both parties must gain. Actually, it should be a triple win scenario, that is, the people, the core of PPPs, should benefit and participate in any PPP arrangement. A market redevelopment with commercial spaces and intermodal transport terminal should yield a win-win-win result.

Habit 5: Seek first to understand, then to be understood. PPPs are premised on understanding the needs of the people because PPP projects are for the people. Listening is key to an effective response. Part of a project study is the conduct of a willingness-and-ability-to-pay survey. A bridge, intended to connect islands, may not become feasible if the intended end-users cannot pay for the toll fee.

Habit 6: Synergize. PPPs are synergistic relationships. To achieve the ends of PPPs, all partners and stakeholders must work together, trust each other, talk to each other, and innovate together. This codetermination and coownership is captured in the Filipino tradition of bayanihan, where the bayani move toward one direction for the benefit of the bayan. Synergy is needed for creating smart cities through PPPs.

Habit 7: Sharpen the saw. Moving together with a purpose does not mean neglecting the interest of each party. All aspects of the organization must be taken cared of. As instruments of progress, IAs must be ready. The physical, spiritual, mental and social/emotional aspects of an IA, as well as its officers and staff must be addressed.

Let us all embrace the 7 habits. Let us start with the “ends” in sight.

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