Aguilar: Intangible assets

Against the current

AS A governance and leadership consultant, my job starts with diagnosing the conditions surrounding a local government unit (LGU). I look into their structure and then troubleshoot their systems and design interventions that can help hit their desired target on a given term. I also provide capacity development trainings tailor fitted to their needs as they implement the recommendations I give with periodic coaching and mentoring.

While it may sound complicated, the procedures are actually quite simple. First, I look at the trends in their poverty incidence. If their people are getting poorer and poorer then it’s a no-brainer to say that there is something wrong with what they are doing. I then proceed to evaluate each of their department on how they fair using the Local Governance Performance Measurement System report (LGPMS) as well as evaluate them in comparison to their neighboring municipalities (putting balance between criterion and norm evaluation). At this point, I would know what department is off-tangent to the LGU targets and what departments are underperforming.

As I went around from one municipality to another, it was always disheartening to know that none of the places I visited was ever strategic in alleviating people from hunger. Most of them just go through the motion of responding to whatever issues presented on them and that the only things they sit down to plan are infrastructure projects. This explains the increasing percent of poverty incidence each year.

As I challenge each municipality and each department head on the laxity and failure to deliver, they would almost always use the lack of budget as the best excuse, something I never allow. You see, according to Harvard Business School experts 70% of the value of organization, be it public or private, lies on its intangible assets or in simple terms; the knowledge of the workers or the lack of it. The tangible assets of the organization, i.e., infrastructure, buildings, technology and finance, are only 30% of the value.

There are two types of intangible assets – the right people and the wrong people. The right people are the disciplined ones possessing the right thoughts and the rights actions. They need less structures and supervision because they are generally self-motivated and very innovative. They always find solutions to any given problem. The wrong ones on the other hand are those that need a lot of supervision and do not generally buy the mission and vision of the organization. They are there for all the wrong reasons.

The common problem of most local government units is that they hire employees based on patronage rather competitiveness. The mayor accommodates unskilled staff just because they helped him win the elections. The civil service defines the minimum requirements, yet surprisingly it’s hardly complied with.

Perhaps we should learn from the late former mayor Jess Robredo of Naga. In his term, he upgraded the qualification standards set by the Civil service making his team top notched. LGUs are actually allowed to do that.

Without a doubt, our city government and our provincial government can produce more with the right people. Perhaps our local leaders should seriously start entertaining the reorganization of the existing bureaucracy. It may seem costly at the start, but the gains would surely outweigh its cost. After all, what produce sustaining results are not really great leaders but rather great organizations.


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