Thursday, July 22, 2004

Encouraging fresh thinking

Business Times p.B1
Thursday, July 22, 2004

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
Encouraging fresh thinking

TAKE note of the initials FPM after my name. Please share with me a personal triumph. I have just been accepted as a Fellow in Personnel Management (FPM) and I am now a member of the Philippine Society of Fellows in Personnel Management. It is the recognition that I have been yearning for all these years that I am in human resource and organization development field. It is also recognition by my peers in the profession. Kumbaga, allow me to brag, “I have arrived.”

My acceptance into this elite group of professionals brings to mind a favorite quotation of my friend Bheng Relatado. She quotes the first lady of American theater, Helen Hayes, who was taught the difference between achievement and success by her mother, “achievement is the knowledge that you have studied, worked hard and done the best, while success is the praise you earn from others. Achievement is fulfilling—success is motivating.”

So, whenever I sign my name now, I shall always proudly affix to it the initials of professionalism—FPM. I can now stand proudly beside the likes of Noli Payos, Orly Zorilla, Met Ganuelas, Lina Azeneta, Virgie Men¬doza, Sally Estrada, Dina Orosa, Lucy Tarriela, Mon Medina, Ernie Espinosa, No¬nong Contreras, and many other highly esteemed pillars of human resource management and development here in our country.

Being a Fellow is not just sporting the initials, though. It entails a lot of responsibilities that call for adherence to lofty ethical standards, commitment to excellence, a passion for continuous learning and taking pride in the profession. I shall always remind myself with the words of author Stephen Ambrose (Nothing Like It in the World) that the past is a source of knowledge and the future is the source of hope.

It will take a long time and lots of hard work, but I am gearing up to becoming Diplomate in Personnel Management (DPM) and join the trio of King Doromal, Tito imperial and Orly Peña.

Now going back to our Abandonment Retreat, being a Fellow also means rejecting, not just knowing, those thoughts, ideas, feelings, behaviors and attitudes that signals, in two words, unprofessional and counterproductive. Achieving and being successful also means getting unstuck. Keith Yamashita, principal at Stone Yamashita Partners, says, “There is no voodoo to how to get unstuck. It’s about taking actions every day in a sensible way with a little bit of creativity and invention.”

Abandonment Retreat encourages fresh thinking. In their book Retreats that Work, authors Sheila Campbell and Merianne Liteman suggest the use of Wide Open Thinking which sparks associations that can help the group solve old problems in new ways.

“Using the names of organizations that have lots of character and personality, participants work in silence and write ideas on Post-it notes. How would this organization go about solving this problem?

“For instance, if the problem were how to speed up processing time in the accounting department, and someone has the CIA on his list, he might write, ‘Give rewards when somebody spies accounting employees doing something helpful to speed up the process,’ which could be a good idea. He might also write, ‘Give them truth serum to find out what the real problems are.’ Now, that’s an outlandish idea, but ridiculous ideas not only acceptable but very valuable at this stage of the process. When participants run out of inspiration from the first organization on their lists, they should move on to the next one, generating as many ideas as possible.”

Then, participants share their ideas and post them on flip charts. They work to find the kernels of great ideas that emerge from the bizarre ones. This is definitely a fun way to find ways to address long-standing problems.

Abandonment Retreat is not a one-off activity. It is regular meetings, in-house and off-site, until every product, service, process, market, distribution channel, customer and end-use has been examined and decisions made about what to do with them such as retain as is, improve or totally renounce. Yes, this is going to be tedious and painful but Chris Doyle, vice president at, prods “Pain is a good learning tool.”

Becoming a Fellow does not end in the Investiture; it is a continuing journey to more successes.

(Moje, the president of Paradigms and Paradoxes Corp., is an active member of the Personnel Management Association of the Philippines and a lifetime member of the Philippine Society for Training and Development. Her email address is

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