The Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) held a webinar series on Public Workforce Futureproofing: Elevating Productivity in the New Normal on 28-29 June 2022. The series discussed the changing landscape of the public sector’s work environment and the strategies that can be applied to face the challenges.

Former CSI Executive Director, Mr. Arthur Florentin (upper right) and Mr. Edward Santiago of Lifekite (upper left) discussing the trends and challenges around future-proofing the public sector workforce.

The changing landscape of work in the the public sector

The series opened with the former executive director of the Civil Service Institute (CSI), Mr. Arthur Florentin, who provided an overview on the future of work and the new competencies that need to be developed in the public sector. He identified four characteristics that continue to be evident, despite modernization efforts in recent years:

  • Rigid practices
  • Attendance-driven without indicating the type of work
  • Manual processes for service delivery
  • Standardization of past success factors

To better prepare the public sector for future risks and opportunities, Mr. Florentin suggested applying more results-oriented performance measurement, flexible working arrangements, and a strategic and anticipatory mindset. He explained that these changes would help organizations continue their work regardless of the situation and build the digital skills of staff.

Asked by a participant if the work-from-home arrangement has ensured productivity, Mr. Florentin said that, from the recent studies, it has ensured continuity but its effectiveness still depends on how leaders guide their staff. He also told another participant that retooling and upskilling strategies should focus on flexibility, agility, and lifelong learning.

Resiliency and wellness in the new era of work

The second day of the webinar series featured an interactive session on mindfulness and resilience led by Mr. Edward Santiago of Lifekite, a transformational growth company.

At the beginning of his lecture, Mr. Santiago defined mindfulness as a therapeutic technique to achieve a “mental state that is focused and aware of the present moment with acknowledgment of one’s feelings and thoughts.” He explained that mindfulness can help improve social relationships, reduce stress, and enhance one’s resilience through positivity and gratefulness. Organizations also benefit from mindfulness because it helps individuals focus better, thus elevating productivity and performance.

Mr. Santiago outlined four steps in practicing mindfulness:

  1. Pause and look for a breather
  2. Identify things to be thankful for and to improve
  3. Take deep breaths to calm down
  4. Care for one’s self to be healthy

During the Q&A with the participants, Mr. Santiago promoted compassionate leadership, educating staff, facilitating communication among individuals, and creating a psychologically safe environment in offices.

In relation to reaching targets in the public sector, a participant asked, “how can our managers help staff mitigate the mental health risks of overwork?” Mr. Santiago responded by saying, “compassionate leadership is essential in that it thinks how its team can better accomplish the job, but are also being productive and efficient. Education, also, to teach people that there is a new way of doing it, and communication.” The second session ended with a question on what structure an office can observe to maintain psychological safety and productivity in the workplace. The speaker suggested for a team to meet at least one hour in a week where they’ll be able to have a space to discuss their thoughts and express support for each other.

Replay of this webinar series is accessible on Facebook and Youtube. Stay tuned for more upcoming webinar series in the coming months.

As the Asian Productivity Organization (APO) Center of Excellence on Public Sector Productivity, the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) held a Webinar Series on Productivity and Quality Frameworks in the Public Sector last 13-15 October 2021.

The webisode was attended by over three thousand participants from various public and private sector agencies. Speakers included Engr. Charlie A. Marquez, DAP resource speaker; Dr. Ralph Sherwin A. Corpuz, director of Quality Assurance at the  Technological University of the Philippines; and Dr. Juliet J. Balderas, head of Management Services Department at the Philippine Heart Center (PHC).

Webinar speakers answer questions from the participants during the program forum. 

Lean Management

Engr. Marquez, who is a certified QMS Lead Auditor and a Lean Six Sigma practitioner, gave a general overview of Lean Management. It is a philosophy based on the Toyota Production System (TPS) that is focused on improving process performance. He explained, “when we say Lean, the objective is simply eliminating everything that does not add value to the customer’s eyes… Meaning, who defines quality is the customer, not us as service providers.”

He briefly touched on the history of the TPS and Toyota’s 4P’s, namely Problem Solving, People and Patterns, Process, and Philosophy. Engr. Marquez also expounded on the Lean Management Framework. 

Stability and standardization serve as the foundation of the Lean Framework. He added, “If there is no standardization, bawat office kanya-kanya [each office will vary in their ways of doing things]… We do not want that. We want standardization.”

Engr. Marquez expounds on the Lean Management Framework.

Engr. Marquez underlined some principles of Lean and mainly discussed the eight (8) wastes in Lean Management, namely defects, overproduction, waiting, transport, inventory, motion, extra processing, and skills. He also highlighted a few benefits of Lean, which include an increase in sales and profits, improvement of quality and lowering of costs, optimal utilization of resources, and most importantly, improvement of customer satisfaction. As he pointed out, “in everything that we are doing—Total Quality Management, ISO 9000, Lean—at the top is ultimately customer satisfaction. That’s what we are here for.”

In his conclusion, Engr. Marquez recommended that participants perform an 8-Waste Analysis, using the Check Sheet that he shared in the talk. He also gave other practical suggestions such as the creation of Value Stream Maps (VSM), Root-Cause-Analysis (RCA), and formulation of solutions and prioritization of projects or activities.

TQM and Business Excellence

On the second day of the webinar series, Dr. Corpuz presented an overview of Total Quality Management (TQM) and Business Excellence. His topic zeroed in on the application of the approaches in the public sector.

To start his talk, Dr. Corpuz outlined some of the needs and challenges faced by the public sector such as inconvenient and tedious government transaction processes and unsystematic queuing. He added that in order to meet the needs of the public, the Government must exert greater efforts to provide more citizen-focused services, invest in innovation and emerging technologies to improve services, push for a smart government through the integration of ICT with management systems to address red tape, provide seamless connection among processes and governments toward one-stop-shop services, and partnership with the private sector in the country and abroad.

Quality service is what public servants have sworn to deliver and hence should be the prime focus in all government endeavors, Dr. Corpuz pointed out. To realize this, the biggest hindrances to public sector productivity must be dealt with through a solid management solution such as TQM. These barriers include security of tenure which may result in the complacency of government employees, a culture of resistance to reforms in the organization, and a complex political environment.

The speaker discussed principles and tools of TQM such as cause-and-effect diagram, check sheet, control chart, histogram, Pareto chart, scatter diagram, and flow chart. He also explained business excellence approaches that evolved from TQM and its models, including the Malcolm Baldrige National for Performance Excellence and the European Foundation for Quality Management Excellence Model. Additionally, Dr. Corpuz described business excellence as more than a mere award but, more so, a journey of building a competitive nation.

Dr. Corpuz also shared his insights into other TQM tools, including Deming’s Seven Deadly Diseases that infect an organization’s culture, Ishikawa’s Diagram and Total Quality Control, and the Philippine Quality Award Framework.

Dr. Corpuz outlines Demings’s Seven Deadly Diseases of Management

Philippine Heart Center Best Practices

On the last day of the webinar series, Dr. Balderas presented the best practices of PHC to help flatten the curve amid the past COVID-19 surges. She also shared about the center’s quality journey in the new normal, which dates back to 2010 when the center was awarded the PhilHealth Center of Excellence. To improve its hospital processes, the PHC has also been undergoing multiple internal accreditations since 2011. In 2015, it received national recognition for good governance at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit. Dr. Balderas noted, “our history of quality is stronger than COVID. If we look back at the history in 10 years, we have improved ourselves so much that probably, what we evolved over the years could be something that we can use productively against COVID.”

Dr. Balderas looks back at PHC’s excellence journey over the years.

Dr. Balderas discussed one of PHC best practices when the pandemic started—the creation of an Incident Command System, which is a standardized emergency response management structure comprising an incident commander, liaison officer, public information officer, safety/security officer, and operations, planning, logistics, and finance divisions. According to Dr. Balderas, the chain of command members meet every month to discuss all the operations in the hospital. They also hold multidisciplinary daily COVID-19 meetings to ensure that COVID-related problems are addressed as they happen. Additionally, new COVID-19 policies by ISO standards on patient admission and on the cohorting of COVID and non-COVID patients among other policies were implemented. These policies were also made accessible to the staff and the patients through its Intranet. The speaker also put forward other best practices of PHC such as stricter compliance to safety protocols, observance of ICP policies for healthcare workers in terms of daily symptoms monitoring and electronic health declaration every fourteen days, and expansion of GeneXpert PCR Testing.

Dr. Balderas also presented PHC’s Beyond Better Strategy Map for the year 2017 to 2022. The map outlines the center’s support and core processes, strategic position, and impact areas that are geared towards its change agenda, which are to become a leader in cardiovascular care that is at par with global benchmarks and to be a leading advocate in the prevention of cardiovascular disease in the country.

Maintaining a high standard of quality is doubly difficult due to the ongoing health crisis, but PHC’s performance governance system, which includes unit scoreboards that help monitor the staff’s individual performance and breakthrough results, has made it possible. Dr. Balderas explained, “when there was little budget for the Heart Center, [our question was] how do we go towards development? We only know that we have to remain the best heart hospital and we are the heart hospital referral center. Our strategy was to improve the performance, so performance monitoring despite COVID was a PHC Culture.”

Despite changes in leadership every five to six years, the center has achieved outstanding breakthrough accomplishments yearly until 2016. And even amid the ongoing COVID surge in 2021, the scoreboards guided the center in decreasing patient safety incidents and the number of healthcare workers diagnosed with COVID 19 by 50 percent.

Dr. Balderas shares the major institutional breakthroughs of PHC in 2020.

The use of scoreboards has been recognized as a best practice in all of PHC’s external audits. In 2019, the center was awarded by the Philippine Quality Award as the leader in upholding standards of cardiovascular care. PHC’s quality and performance excellence have also led the center to be recognized as a “Leader in Upholding Highest Standards of Cardiovascular Care” in 2018 at the 21st Cycle Philippine Quality Awards. Dr. Balderas noted that despite the hurdles brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, good governance and pursuit of excellence in quality improvements must continue.

The public sector must adopt more dynamic strategies and mindsets and continue delivering effective services in the face of fiscal and regulatory constraints. This was the call of the  Conference on Public Sector Productivity, organized by the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) in partnership with the Asian Productivity Organization (APO), last August 25, 2021.

Through presentations and a panel discussion, the conference tackled alternative workplace and service delivery strategies, measurement and management of work productivity, and nurturing a productivity mindset in the new normal. 

Over 3,700 participants made up of policymakers and government officials, representatives of government enterprises, and staff of public-sector organizations and research institutions watched the livestream through Zoom, Youtube, and Facebook. Participants also included 181 international delegates from Bangladesh, Cambodia, Fiji, India, Indonesia, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Republic of China, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Turkey, and Vietnam.

APO Secretary-General Dr. AKP Mochtan and APO Director for the Philippines, Undersecretary Jose Miguel R. De La Rosa both emphasized the need to leverage the available digital platforms because of the multifaceted impact of the pandemic Aside from highlighting productivity and innovation, Senator Juan Edgardo Angara added that public sector professionals should perform their duties to the best of their ability and go beyond the call of duty if they can. 

Dynamism, Flexibility for Service Continuity

In South Korea and Malaysia, the public sector used regulations and digitalization to ensure continued functioning despite the pandemic. 

Using public-private data for their Covid-19 Response System, the South Korean government was able to easily detect the location of the patients for effective contact tracing. Data-sharing was also used in their Mobile Vaccine Reservation in cooperation with the leading messaging service in the country, Kakao Talk, making it easier, faster, and more accurate. Through this, the citizens can also easily access information if there are leftover vaccines.

The Malaysia Productivity Corporation (MPC) ensured productivity gains through the integration of regulatory facilitation and digitalization between public and private players. The digitalization of their procurement system diminished the use of hardcopy documents and enabled better tracking of the application process. Increased productivity and flexibility were noted because of the use of online meeting platforms as well as limitless educational possibilities with a full subscription to online platform learning. The transformation from physical seminars to online webinars boosted the number of participants as they can participate from all around the globe. Companies can receive certification from MPC faster and at a lower cost through an online self-assessment mechanism.

One of the public sector’s major stumbling blocks during a crisis is that it does not anticipate and innovate enough. The architecture of system thinking, innovation and foresight functions will enable efficient governance approaches in the new normal, according to Dr. Piret Tõnurist of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Using Anticipatory Innovation Governance, organizations can foresee various futures and explore options. The framework requires an authorizing environment with networks and partnerships, public participation, vested interests, legitimacy, evidence evaluation, and learning loops to develop policies for complex and uncertain contexts. 

The framework pushes governments to challenge the status quo by asking the following questions: Should governments rely on crises to make technology, solutions, and innovations within the public sector possible? What other processes, tools, and methods can organizations use continuously to improve its processes? What behavioral, organizational, and institutional drivers within organizations will drive innovation?

Innovation and COVID-19 Responses

Partnerships are the great enabler for the Office of the Vice President of the Philippines (OVP) pandemic response programs. By working with the private sector, they were able to expand their reach and multiply their efforts making their presence felt throughout the country. By working with local government units, the online application market service Community Mart, improved the income of market vendors and tricycle drivers while having less exposure to customers. Volunteers paved the way for the Bayanihan E-Konsulta, a free teleconsultation service that aims to help decongest hospitals in Metro Manila.

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In Makati City, the Makatizen application and card served as lifelines for residents who needed government support and emergency services. The Makatizen Card is a multipurpose card that allowed the Makati government to transfer financial assistance to its constituents, and enabled citizens to make electronic purchases. The Makatizen app offered a platform where users can access the latest announcements from the city government and offered access to the proper authorities for any emergency that requires urgent government assistance and intervention. Technology aided new possibilities in addressing the demands of governance under the new normal.Education should continue despite the challenges of internet-based/blended learning through the establishment of community learning hubs, which serves multiple school-age children, rather than trying to ensure that each household has a device or internet service.

For his closing remarks, DAP President and Chief Executive Officer, Atty. Engelbert Caronan, Jr. relayed that pushing for productivity, innovation, and foresight in the public sector is not a matter of perspective anymore, and the government’s capacity to respond effectively and efficiently to the current and emerging concerns of the people should be a given. According to him, the government must be agile  and must assume that we have to hurdle the digital divide on behalf of our clients, instead of them having to invest in additional resources to access our services. And lastly, he imparted that every organization’s quest for productivity should consider the effects their interventions have on the lives of the people they serve.

How will governments be more productive? This is the big question addressed in the fourth installment of World Bank’s six disruptive debates and constructive conversations in the Future of Government series, held on 1 September 2021.

The forum aims to provide global leaders and thinkers an avenue to share views and ideas on how governments might seize the opportunity from the current global pandemic crisis and climate crisis to achieve greener, more resilient, and more inclusive future development (GRID) outcomes. It featured global experts such as Francis Maude, Peck Kem Low, Francisco Gaetani, Marta Arsovska Tomovska, Edward Olowo-Okere, and Raj Kumar.

Government Productivity

Government productivity is fundamental to the world’s future. The pressure to do more with less is heightened now more than ever, especially as the time frame for Sustainable Development Goals achievement nears its end and the global pandemic remains ongoing.

Maude, FMA chairman and former UK Minister, shared his insight on how this can be carried out. First is by ensuring efficiency. He shared about how he had helped in reforming procurement during his term in the UK government program in efficiency and reform. “We did a huge digital transformation program which saved a lot of money but also got the UK ranked best in the world by the UN for e-government,” Maude added.

Maude noted that the government’s procurement of goods and services from outside must be done better. Specifically, he highlighted the necessity of getting rid of restrictive practices that can, in the end, corner the government with an oligopoly of suppliers. He added, “In the UK, we got rid of a lot of the restrictive practices. That was a real factor in driving or enabling the huge growth upsurge in the tech sector. Startups were finally able to bid for and win government contracts and they grew off the back of it. So procurement, major projects, digital transformation, all of that– these are reforms available to every government that [are] crucial.”

Another factor he brought forward was impact investment, a strategy that aims to generate positive social and environmental impact alongside financial returns. A few examples of this are government partnerships with small social entrepreneurs and efforts to support environmental initiatives with economic benefits. The UK was the first in the world to set up a social investment bank, which offers another, more holistic option to address social problems other than providing in-house services or having to go full on conventional, commercial outsourcing.

Digital transformation toward improving productivity

Tomovska, director for Public Administration Reform and eGovernment at the Office of the Prime Minister of Serbia, shared how they were able to realize ‘doing more with less’ in Serbia through digital transformation. She underlined the value of investing in digital transformation given that there are still governments that are apprehensive about what such a shift may entail.

“Some governments are hesitant to take this road. Either they don’t have a vision or they don’t have enough talent in the government for digital transformation. Sometimes, investment is a challenge because digitalization itself is not a cheap toy. But the crisis showed that every single dollar invested in the digital transformation of the government paid off and then paid over big time,” she explained.

The director, who was also the former Macedonian Minister for ICT and Public Administration, pointed out that digital transformation not only makes services more efficient, more effective, and low cost, but more so it provides a safeguard against corruption. She said, “In some parts of the world where corruption is a challenge, digital government can be seen as an excellent tool to fight corruption. There is no physical contact, no discretionary decisions; everything is recorded in the system”

Tomovska also cited a few technologies that are now in the spotlight for digital transformation. One of which includes automated decision-making systems which use algorithms that sync across sectors in the government. Tomovska shared that, in Serbia, they were able to save millions of dollars annually and cut down costs in terms of time, electricity, water, and even paper sheets because of the said innovation. In the past two years alone, they were able to save around 180 million sheets of paper, which is equivalent to 18 thousand trees, 76 ml. water, and six thousand watt-hours of electricity. Another example she mentioned was big data and algorithms for data-driven policies, which contribute to better planning, improved outcomes, and increased savings.

She also shared about software robots that can do basic routine tasks. She added, ‘[The technology] frees up hours for some crucial things, for example, dealing much more with the citizens and understanding their needs. There are a lot of things to be done there. And we’ve seen some numbers, which are in billions of dollars, with what would be the cost savings if we introduce this kind of automation.” 

In her conclusion, Tomovska emphasized that digital transformation must be a collective effort. There are many avenues for cooperation to contribute to government productivity.  The private sector, startups, and innovative companies may play a significant role in this.

Singapore’s Example

Singapore, with its advanced technology and efficiency, may be a hint of what the future of government would look like. 

Fast service is one of the things that the country can take pride in. Chief human resources officer & workforce management advisor in the Singapore Government, Kem shared, “Today, in Singapore, when you land in Singapore airport, from the point you land to the point you’ve grabbed your luggage bag, checkout and get a taxi, [it would take] no more than ten minutes. That’s the level of technology that we have invested in.”

Kem spoke about how Singapore has been focusing its efforts in driving towards a smart nation. Given the country’s limited resources, going digital is not merely an option but is integral to its system.

She explained, “For us, going high tech or digital is not an option, mainly because we are so small and we really don’t have enough people. We don’t have natural resources. Our only natural resource is our people, even our people, we don’t have enough Singaporeans per se, and one-third of our workforce is really from all over the world… because we don’t have the warm bodies to fill those jobs, very often, we have to make use of technology in order to still deliver services, and yet, high touch.”