BY LAW, at noon of June 30, 2022, all elected officials who won in the elections held last May 9 shall already assume office. Positions in the recent elections were very hotly contested from the local level up to the national level as the Information Age has amplified the aspiration of Filipinos for a better life, a better country than the current situation we are in. The bar has been raised insofar as the standards of governance is concerned since the stakes are high – it is either we move further down because of the pandemic or recover and rise again and move higher. Although the fate of this country and our cities, towns and provinces does not solely depend on the hands of our elected officials, we need to have strategic leadership across all levels of government to bounce back as a nation.

Here is what I call 11 unsolicited advices to elected officials of 2022 in order to avoid wasting taxpayers’ money:

First, study – actions and decisions of ordinary citizens will not affect the lives of many people normally, but your every action and decision in office will.

Second, collaborate with all key players in the ecosystem – your office is not a private office, it is a public office, you cannot refuse to collaborate especially with other agencies and organizations that possess more knowledge and experience and/or are mandated to perform similar tasks.

Third, listen – listening is one of the most effective ways to gain knowledge and to understand a given situation and create more responsive strategies.

Fourth, build on the existing gains of your local ecosystem. Not all achievements of the local government are the handiwork of your political enemies, many of them are because of concerted efforts of all stakeholders working together.

Fifth, understand and respect the separation of powers of the executive and the legislative. If you are the executive, know your role and limits. If you are in the legislative area, know how those policies are very important to set the direction of your communities.

Sixth, design strategies and develop policies according to accurate and relevant data and insights from all stakeholders, not from whim, from what “you think” or what your political allies say.

Seventh, develop concrete and sustainable projects that will produce long term impact. Think about how your actions today will affect your citizens even when you are already no longer around. Do not think of the next election. Think of the next generation that will be benefitted or affected by your decisions today. Think systems.

Eighth, use resources creatively. There are many forms of resources, not only money. Harness every avenue that will achieve for your community the biggest impact with the lowest need for resources, especially natural resources or resources that are hard to find like taxpayers’ money.

Invest in systems and manpower upgrades of public servants, among other things.

Ninth, find the right people. Good leaders tap good people, even better than they are. Successful leaders tap people they don’t even like but whom they know can deliver. Meritocracy is a blessing to every government.

Tenth, work by looking towards the future as much as possible. Avoid blaming past administration for every mistake you see or every problem that comes your way. Running after people who no longer matter in the quest for you to succeed will only consume your time. Let the system of redress and grievances take care of them.

Finally, my eleventh tip has to do with building a digital innovation ecosystem and that is to cultivate a growth mindset. As cited by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), a mindset is a disposition, attitude, or inclination.

There are several elements of a growth mindset that drive innovation, namely problem-driven solutions (creating ideas that are meant to be solving real ecosystem problems), inclusion (consideration of the needs of all stakeholders involved), empathy (understanding who is involved at each stage and having the ability to put yourself in their shoes), co-creation (collaborating on equal ground and building on different perspectives) egoless (humility), driven (the grit and determination to achieve an objective).

I shall be actively rooting for innovation champions in government, or those with a growth mindset who learn and grow from the challenges of creating ICT-centric innovation ecosystems.

It is important to share and collaborate with other stakeholders when using the innovation tools along the ecosystem-building journey. Innovation requires a growth mindset that allows individuals to create better ICT-centric innovation ecosystems.