back to "Various Projects" page

    Tristan H. Calasanz
Vice-President, Utility Operations

This paper was presented by the author at the Conference on Electric Power Supply Industry held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, December 1-5, 1980, and revised for the May 1982 Conference of the Philippine Society for Training and Development
1 - Introduction
2 - After Four Years
3 - The Human Person is a Product of Culture
4 - The Filipino's Flexibility of Character
5 - Catalyzing the Growth of the Spirit of "Bayanihan"
6 - Conclusion - The Development of the Total Person
7 - Some Interesting Features
8 - Preface of the President, National Power Corporation





1 - Introduction

T O P         NEXT

The National Power Corporation dared to reformulate the sociological description of the Filipino and his society, and adopted a change strategy in accordance with the reformulated model.  This strategy is anchored on the belief that the effectiveness of any Human Resource program or system is conditioned by an infrastructure founded on a sociological theory opted for by and organization.

The Strategy for Change and Development revolves around two basic realities: the human person as an individual, and the human person as a product of his culture.

The human person is the locus of change and development in the Strategy.  It recognizes that the human person has his own conviction of who he is and what he wants to do with his life or career in the Corporation.  He directs his own course of action and belief and no external force can make him do anything he does not want to do, or is not prepared to do.  Only he can direct his own life in a meaningful manner and attain satisfaction and fulfillment from his own action.

When an individual joins an organization, he brings with him insights of what he wants to make out of his life.  The organization cannot tamper with this, nor force its way in on him even with the best of intentions.  If the organization does this, it destroys the person - together with what he might have contributed to the organization.

The Strategy for Change and Development recognizes the primacy of the human person.  The first pronouncement of the Corporation's President and Chief Executive Officer upon assumption to office was, "Our human resources are our most valuable asset - not capital, not our generating plants, not machines, but our people."



2 - After Four Years

T O P         NEXT         PREVIOUS

The management of the Corporation set directions and thrusts over the last four years that have resulted in:
  • A set of policies on Management Values and Internal Communications was formulated, disseminated and discussed by management with the 10,500 people in the organization. Among the features of the twin policy statements are premium on maintenance of self-respect and recognition of individual personality of every employee, encouragement of innovation, creation of a work environment that enhances personal, growth, etc.

  • A local and foreign scholarship program was launched. This in line with the Corporation's desire to upgrade the professional and technical capability of its human resources. The end objective of the scholarship program is to gain self-reliance and achieve savings in foreign exchange which would have been spent on external consulting services.

  • Opportunities for human resources development at all levels in the Corporation are given great emphasis. The budget for the development of the Human Resource is usually the last to be trimmed.

  • A two-path career system has been established with the bifurcation of specialist and line functions. Those who have specialized technical competence need not be appointed to managerial positions to enjoy the rank, status and pay of the manager of a line function. Those who have the competence for supervisory and managerial positions may pursue the regular path of promotion in the line departments. This way, the individual need not be drawn to a position which will bring out his "level of incompetence", just because he seeks the monetary reward of the position.

  • The schemes for selection and promotion to supervisory and managerial positions have been sanitized of diseases affecting other organizations. They seek to select the most qualified and best fit for the job through a process that includes assessment center, interviews by the Management Committee (for managerial positions), promotions board deliberations, qualification tests, etc.



3 - The Human Person is a Product of Culture

T O P         NEXT         PREVIOUS


The Strategy for Change and Development recognizes the human person as a product of his culture. The NAPOCOR provides the Filipino employee a continuing process of socialization, by providing an atmosphere in the organization where the norms and practices of the culture where he comes from are reinforced. He lives within, is affected by, obeys the rules of, and subsumes himself to the norms, values and orders of society. The forces of family kinship, the extended family (ninong, compadre, etc.), camaraderie and group association are very strong in the Filipino.

A Filipino worker who comes to an organization, is a product of paradoxical patterns of relationships and behavior:
  • On one hand, he is a product of a highly-structured and authoritarian familial set-up where roles are prescribed especially for younger members of the family.

  • This is characterized by autocratic leadership of the elder-member, the younger-member, submitting to the decision of the family elders, and almost one way communication.

  • Here, there is no way that a child may infiltrate the social set of his father or mother. There is no way he can lead the elders in any form of decision-making.

  • Anyone who disrupts or does not conform to this "comfortable familial set-up" is named a rebel and an ingrate or a presumptuous child.

  • On the other hand, he is also conditioned by social relationships, which ironically exist side by side with the highly structured set-up described earlier. He is famous for Bayanihan or Balikatan or Tulungan. These words defy any translation that will really capture the essence or spirit of cooperation and camaraderie that engulfs the Filipino when he sets to complete a task.

  • Like when a Filipino peasant moves his house, he can call on the "brawny support" of all his neighbors, fellow peasants and friends in other villages to literally carry on their shoulders the house that is being moved. Same is true in planting or harvesting task in the rural area. In the urban setting, this is shown in the different social groupings sprouting around like Barangay Tanod, Operation Tulong, Citizen's Traffic Action Group, etc. Through a mutual sharing of responsibility in a job to be done, it is finished with the least manifestation of a structure social set-up.

  • This communitarian practice ignores social ranking, structures, leadership roles and authority relationships. People gather for the work to be done. The spirit of the exercise is not to assert anyone's importance or role, but simple to help in getting the task done. The roles in the structured set-up, mentioned earlier, cease to exist! A child who proves that he has the right quality needed for the task may lead the neighborhood, not excluding his father and elder brothers.



4 - The Filipino's Flexibility of Character

T O P         NEXT         PREVIOUS


Surprisingly, the Filipino is at home with both cultural practices in his social life. He shifts from one setting to another with unbelievable ease and grace.

The NAPOCOR's Strategy for Change and Development seeks to set the atmosphere for the Filipino character to fully grow. It retains and balances in the organization the two social structures which make up the Filipino spirit.

The supervisor-subordinate arrangement is not far different from the father-son or elder brother-younger brother relationship, with all the attendant roles and patterns as prescribed. One other part of the Filipino makeup is left outside. The side that tells him that with his social group, he can accomplish tasks through synergy of forces. (Synergy is the simultaneous action of separate elements which together have greater total effect than the sum of their individual effects). This makes the Filipino uncomfortable and not at home with the organization. Consequently, he feels little or no ownership of corporate goals.

The Strategy provides an atmosphere in NAPOCOR where people at all levels have something to offer or contribute.

Akin to the Balikatan spirit, task forces or task teams are formed consisting of employees coming from all ranks to accomplish certain organizational missions. Management teams are created in all five operating Regional Centers where collegial decision-making has been adopted and are consciously being practiced. The concept of the Management team has been such an effective catalyst that NAPOCOR has institutionalized it in almost all organizational units.

The actualization of the Bayanihan spirit in NPC starts from the top of the organizational ladder. The Office of the President is composed of the President and two Senior Vice-Presidents, a set-up which institutionalizes collegial policy-making and shared leadership. The Office of the President consults and makes decisions through a Management Committee consisting of the Senior VPs and the five VPs heading each of the functional groups in the organization.

Each VP in turn has his own Management Team consisting of the Department Managers under his group. This principle cascades down the line and in effect is practiced down to the division level. In the true Bayanihan spirit it is not surprising if the newest and youngest member of any management teams gets to chair meetings, has his idea adopted, or have his lead the work unit as a special assignment.

The idea is to make the Filipino whole again in the organization. If before, only that structured cultural part of him is transplanted and reinforced in the work environment, NPC is now providing organizational opportunities to "unleash" the long-suppressed forces that make the Filipino such an effective accomplisher in his cultural and social life. For if this "other side of the Filipino" cultural spirit is not liberated and legitimized, it will seep out in whatever shape or form, sometimes positive but surely in some instances away from, or indifferent to organizational goals.



5 - Catalyzing the Growth of the Spirit of "Bayanihan"

T O P         NEXT         PREVIOUS


A series of events recently took place in the organization that aimed to promote the bayanihan/balikatan spirit and hence preserve "that side of the Filipino character":
  • The adoption of a Policy on Internal communication which not only encourages every employee to relate to his peers, bosses and subordinates, but also makes it the responsibility of the managers in every unit to open lines of communication within his work area.

  • Organizational structures which used to be based along functional lines are now being re-examined and subsequently replaced with "adaptive structures," e.g., matrix or project groups, which are created to perform a certain mission with greater flexibility and which allow for maximum utilization of all competencies and skills in the organization. This organization type is being experimented in the Engineering Group, the Corporate Planning personnel force and to a certain extent, the Human Resource Department and the Utility Operations Group.

  • Management encouraged the formation of an Employee Affairs Council consisting of representatives from the Employees' Association, Supervisors' Association and Managers' Association. The Council convenes to discuss issues which will promote employee welfare. It has become a co-partner of Management in the pursuit of corporate goals. The Council has representatives in the administration of the Employee Welfare Fund and in the Promotions Board.

  • Task teams and committees with inter-functional group membership are being formed to undertake special activities and functions, e.g., Management Information System, Plant Automation, Performance Appraisal System, Planning Process, etc. In these task teams, it is not unusual to have subordinates heading these teams with his boss as a regular member.



6 - Conclusion - The Development of the Total Person

T O P         NEXT         PREVIOUS


The Strategy seeks to set the atmosphere so that the Filipino gets a balanced perspective in his work setting. While it recognizes the human person as the locus of organizational strength and productivity, the NAPOCOR also recreates his cultural environment by encouraging him to work with his co-employees in the true bayanihan spirit. By this, it is hoped that he will become a total person, both at home and in his place of work.












7 - Some Interesting Features

T O P         NEXT         PREVIOUS



The human person is the locus of change and development in the Strategy
















T O P         NEXT         PREVIOUS



Our human resources are our most valuable asset - not capital, not our generating plants, not machines, but our people." - G Y Itchon, NAPOCOR President
















T O P         NEXT         PREVIOUS



The highly structured familial set-up is characterized by autocratic leadership of the elder members, the youth submitting to the decision of the family elders, and an almost one-way communication downwards.
















T O P         NEXT         PREVIOUS



The societal structure is no different from the ordinary Filipino family. It is characterized by the autocratic leadership of the elders, where the youth submit to their decisions and communication is almost one way and mostly downward.
















T O P         NEXT         PREVIOUS



The bayanihan/balikatan spirit is a reality in the Filipino social setting.
















T O P         NEXT         PREVIOUS



The structured set-up in the community is reinforced in the organization through the authority structure, chain of command, boss-subordinate relationship, etc.
















T O P         NEXT         PREVIOUS



A Filipino worker who comes to an organization is a product of paradoxical patterns of relationships and behavior: one, a highly structured and authoritarian familial set-up; the other, a strong communitarian spirit - Bayanihan/Balikatan. He is at home with both, and can shift from one setting to another with ease and grace.
















T O P         NEXT         PREVIOUS



The supervisor-subordinate arrangement is not far different from the father-son or elder child-younger child relationship, with all the attendant roles and patterns as prescribed.
















T O P         NEXT         PREVIOUS



Akin to Balikatan, task forces are formed consisting of employees from all ranks to accomplish organizational missions.
















8 - Preface of the President, National Power Corporation (NAPOCOR)

T O P         NEXT         PREVIOUS

When I assumed office in 1978 as President and Chief Executive Officer of the NAPOCOR, one of the priorities we had to establish was a framework for managing change in the organization.

The task of managing change was as crucial as the other missions that we had to undertake like maintaining the financial viability of the corporation and pursuing our social obligation to the population. There were a thousand and one things that had to be done at the same time. We tried to effect changes by delineating operations according to functional groups, elevating organizational units and certain managerial positions, adopting the profit center concept at Utility Operations and the matrix set-up in Engineering, etc. We had to effect and manage these changes if the organization had to respond to the challenge of its national mission.

The NAPOCOR Strategy for Change and Development provides a culture-based framework for such changes that have been effected in NPC over the past three years.

The foundation of the change strategy is the Filipino, both as an individual and as an element working in a synergistic fashion with his teammates in the organization. Every employee in the National Power Corporation is this human person.

Gabriel Y. Itchon
President


T O P         PREVIOUS