Thursday, January 4, 2007

Have a blessed new year, lah!

Business Times p.B3
Thursday, January 04, 2007

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
Have a blessed new year, lah!

LAST YEAR we spent anidyllic Christmas vacation in Batangas communing with nature, exploring the marine sanctuary and enjoying the bounty from the sea away from the holiday frenzy of Metro Manila.

This year we are glad to be back from a brief sojourn in Singapore to welcome 2007 here in Manila. New Year’s Eve in Barangay 596, Sta. Mesa, was never noisier and more joyous than before. And the fireworks were very well organized in at least two distinct corners in our small community. That prompted all my neighbors to come out of their houses and celebrate together in the streets. No stray firecrackers to surprise you while you walk.

My mind, though, wandered back to Singapore. The whole of Singapore went full blast preparing for welcoming 2007. As expected, they were planning for a big bang in a very well organized manner. No need to buy your own expensive firecrackers and noisemakers; you just go to the designated places for celebration. Not one killer gun was irresponsibly fired.

How and why does Singapore do that? Well besides attracting millions of tourists during the Christmas season alone, maybe they subscribe to the thoughts of authors Terrence E. Deal and M.K. Key.

In their book Corporate Celebration, they write that we participate in celebrations for the joy they offer and what they reveal to us of life’s deeper mysteries and meaning. Celebrations address issues that otherwise interfere with an organization’s ability to accomplish important goals and objectives. They identified the generic functions and business benefits of celebrations.

• Building relationships among individuals, strengthening bonds across diverse subcultures and knitting the community together. (Remember that Singaporeans are either Indians, Malays or Chinese plus there are all sorts of peoples working or doing business there such as Filipinos and other Asians, North Americans, Europeans, Latin Americans, Middle Eastern. Singapore is truly a cosmopolitan country that needs celebrate for its functional consequences.)

• Leveling the hierarchy to provide a common ground where bosses, managers and employees can intermingle freely without fear. (The Singaporean leadership as always sang and danced to the same beat of the drum.)

• Summoning the collective spirit which creates energy, excitement, commitment and loyalty. (The many civic and church organizations in Singapore jointly worked to make their celebration a success.)

• Establishing a connection between historical roots, current realities and future dreams. (Exactly the focus of the Singapore celebration.)

• Allowing intangible values and visions to be experienced and appreciated. (Ditto)

• Transforming difficulties into opportunities, tragedies into growth experiences, losses into gains. (Singapore uses its being a small city-state as a strength.)

• Providing a safety valve to discharge drives, relieve tension, express emotion and deal with conflict. (Singapore is a “fine” but celebrations give Singaporeans some kind of a poetic license to feel.)

• Creating a forum for sharing stories, breaking bread, dancing and linking joy with work. (Work and life in Singapore are intertwined.)

“In our view, the shortfall between an optimistic strategic forecast and a less-than-robust financial performance has two main causes: (1) individuals who are unhappy, unmotivated and dissatisfied; and (2) an organization that relies mainly on short-term, rationally based management strategies to focus energy and produce results. Celebration helps narrow the performance gap by simultaneously stimulating positive feelings and knitting people together in a well-focused, unified work community.”

And that is exactly what Singapore is doing.

And the Philippines? Kanya-kanya pa rin. The only thing our government does is to warn people not to do this and not to do that. There is no leadership even in celebration.

The one thing that bound Filipinos all around the world this season is Wowowee’s “Boom Tarat Tarat” song and dance.

(Moje consults business excellence and talent management. Her e-mail addy is )

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